The end of the rhizome

Just around the block is this little grey cable box. The end (maybe this is the other end) of the rhizome.

The rhizome in ‘rhizomatic learning’ is a metaphor of learning.
And “rhizome” is part of a theory about knowledge. As a theory of knowledge it is an answer to structuralism. Both theories are synthetical. In both theories a structure or the rhizome connects concepts. They stress the importance of connections and overview. In arts (education is an art) the overview, the connections, and synthesis are important. (This few sentences is the shortest and most unscientific text on epistemologics you ever read)

Is the rhizomatic metaphor for learning and education new? Jan Ligthart, Maria Montessori, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and so many others promoted synthesis in Project learning or thematic work. (Mainstream education had/has a very analytical approach). In higher ed nobody seems to practice these (old) pedagogical revivals.
What does rhizomatic learning add to the pedagogical wisdom of these and other pedagogues?
Why did mainstream schools (higher ed) hardly adapt these synthetical practices? If they had adapted we would not discuss rhizomatic learning.

The metaphor of rhizomatic learning does help to enhance teaching, so this is not the end.


8 thoughts on “The end of the rhizome

  1. I should not have included all colleges and higher ed in my questions. You show reality is more complex than we know. I was thinking of my impressions of some bad examples in universities.

  2. Well although we have done this work only some Universities use Craft of Teaching, MMU in the UK for example. Digital Practitioner captures emerging college practice, WikiQuals is a small project. In the UK university teaching is mostly very poor, relying on the subject knowledge of the lecturer with little interest in learning or the student…

  3. Good questions Jaap. I don’t know, but am curious to know. Will put on my thinking cap and get back later. @reprograma

  4. so Jaap… your question is more like, why are learning institutions unable to adopt views of learning as rhizomatic? Or why are teachers unable to apply it? Because I don’t think we have evidence that teaching with rhizomatic learning in mind fails… It is just maybe difficult to describe and scale out of context, so difficult for mass adoption? Maybe? not sure what I am saying… but I just think you mean a different question than what you wrote.. right?

    But you sort of made your point about structuralism and poststructuralism… people are more comfortable with structure and certainty… even though the world is really uncertain and describing it with poststructuralist approaches represents a more “complete” yet still very “partial” view – that recognizes itself as such – versus the other… ummm … u know what I’m saying???

  5. schools for little children (up to 12 years) did adapt new ways of learning more than universities. Teachers are able to apply new pedagogics, but teachers in higher ed do not do it. Older pedagogical thinkers did make about the same comments on learning as Dave Cormier is now.
    Thanks for your comment and questions.

  6. you’re right, of course, Jaap, about younger education adopting such ideas, Montessori being a great example (I never thought of her approach as rhizomatic, but maybe I understand neither well enough to recognize that)
    There is, of course, the very obvious point that higher ed professors are not usually *trained* as educators, so might know little to nothing about pedagogy when they start teaching… as opposed to school teachers who get certification before they can teach in most countries worldwide. Also, doing a PhD hardly prepares you to teach well, does it? It’s all about doing your own research on your own, deferring to one authority (your supervisor) and asking a few others to agree (your examiners in thesis defense) – so how does that prepare a person to teach later? Of course some get teaching experience while doing PhD and some univs offer teacher “training” (in UK I know they do) but it depends on how reflective this all is and how deeply it reaches the learners… and all the traditional thinking behind higher ed that doesn’t suit realities of learning…

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