The end of the rhizome?

rhizome#rhizo14 has a narrow view on learning: Learning by students in school.
Learning is a human quality, and school is by far not the only place where humans do learn. In one of the first weeks the incident in Facebook about academics  was prophetic as in many blogs and facebook messages now the subject is academic.

To describe learning we do not need the Rhizome-word. Humans do learn, humans are always learning. Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. One learns all kinds of things, easy, spontaneous. Where to find the coffee in the supermarket. How to find your way in your neighborhood. Humming that song. The name of your favorite people.  Humans learn, without end. This natural free style learning is connected, effortless, not determined, not voluntary,  endless.
Does the R-word add something to our understanding of learning? Or is the R-word an obstacle? Maybe the R-word was a pedagogical affordance to make teachers think about learning?

Learning is difficult, a tough job, when one wants to learn a subject or a skill , purposeful,  goal-oriented. To learn at will, we need discipline and care. We need a curriculum for this  learning, a plan and a teacher could help. Because you could learn the wrong basic skills or knowledge and never succeed. A liminal space – an in-between-space – between mastery and troublesome knowledge. This is a space of potential risk. Jenny Mackness writes in length about this risk. This risk of learning wrong is not the risk to fail. Maybe, risk is what living is about?

Is it possible to learn to be an academic without this school-learning? We banter about the term “lifelong learners” in education quite a bit. It’s a hopeful sentiment — that the learning opportunities in our space will not just spill over in the lives of our students (I teach 11 year olds) but will provide the structure for self-centered learning in unknown situations at any given time in the future (Dogtrax on P2P)

Could R-learning make a student an academic? No, because an academic is a person who learns goal directed. That is what an academic is. Is wandering around and free-learning needed for an academic? The academic does work in an academic discipline as it is sometimes called. If we do not work to form connection we may follow the wrong god home. (Danielle Paradis)  Free wandering learning could be useful even for an academic.

I do enjoy #rhizo14  because of the conversation and to meet you online.

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9 thoughts on “The end of the rhizome?

  1. I like free wandering. Your post reminds me a bit of the chicken-egg quandry and I think you are right (if I read it correctly) that the rhizomatic ideal is not necessarily an action plan for learning — you can’t really teach it — but more of a frame of thinking that you slowly uncover, making sense as you go along. I’m still struggling, and that’s OK in my mind. I’ll keep coming back around again to the ideas.
    Kevin

  2. I agree with Kevin when he writes “the rhizomatic ideal is not necessarily an action plan for learning — you can’t really teach it — but more of a frame of thinking that you slowly uncover, making sense as you go along.”
    I’m not sure what you mean about an academic being goal-directed. Surely academics need open minds??

  3. Thank you for this answer. I am not teaching, my learning is the learning of a professional. I do learn to keep up with my colleagues, to keep up in my discipline. This after school learning is rhizomatic. I am allowed to follow every link when learning. In schools this free roaming learning is not possible because of ethic and economic and political factors.

  4. I loved your post Jaap – it has made me think. But I would like to expand on what you say about after-school learning. I am surprised not to have seen more interest in connections between school learning and what/how students may be learning for their out of school interests. Maybe I am missing it but the emphasis seems to be about changing what happens in the classroom (with the help of technology and web services), rather than changing school more fundamentally, or channelling learners’ expertise and talents.

  5. Frances, that subject was somewhere hidden in my mind for some time. You hit the nail. Rhizomatic is without borders. In vocational colleges (In the Netherlands) this move towards open has started already. And a great part of higher ed is also vocational. Most students do go to school, university, because of the job they want. So higher ed will move toward open and change also. But schools are very big systems and change is very slow. MOOCs of educational and of non-educational institutions will be part in that job. Even the Federal Reserve Bank in USA has its MOOC. Libraries and Arts institutions do also. This is really a bigger question than changing classroom.

  6. Hi Jaap and Frances. Strangely, in my every day life and research, I have a great interest in how things like extracurricular activities and all sorts of aspects of learners’ lives impact upon their learning (whether reflected in the formal learning or not), and I am lobbying for our institution to start recognizing and heloing students reflect on those learning experiences: not just by incorporating them e.g. In service learning courses BUT lettng students do their own thing (rhizomatically, often, without a particular goal or path) and then helping them reflect on what they have learned. For me, rhizo14 was (as my mom was referring yday) extracurricular professional development (officially) but turned out to be a whole lot of fun and socialization with wonderful ppl like urself. I think i will post this also in my collab autoethnography!

  7. I am not sure if a teacher, an authority, someone who knows better than me, is essential in learning. We do need other people to learn, to ask questions.

  8. Thanks for your comment. Extra-curriculair activities are a very good add-on to any formal education. Important to make friends for life. Most people will remember these extra curriculair activities a whole life and look upon them as very fruitful.
    Egypt now has a face for me. Hope for a peaceful time in Egypt.

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