What is Learning / Wat is leren?


I want to know what rhizomatic learning is.

We could start thinking about a definition and  explanations of learning.

Start at Wikipedia (often a good start for a search, as it gives links for sources):
Mmm, I do not know, Wikipedia? That is not very scientific, well for a start we could look at it. i guess that will not do harm.
What does Wikipedia tell you about learning?

It is here: Learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines….[Daniel L. Schacter, Daniel T. Gilbert, Daniel M. Wegner (2009, 2011). Psychology, 2nd edition. Worth Publishers. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-4292-3719-2, via wikipedia]

What is this synthesizing different types of information? Is it learning? I would agree on the word ,knowledge, but not on ,information,!  What is the difference between knowledge and information?

Well this is only a start,

Learning is not only for little children. Most teachers seem to connect learning with children. But we humans do learn always. I doubt if it possible not to learn.
It (Rhizomatic Learning) freely admits the beautiful complexity of the human experience, and thus, by proximity, the sheer craziness of the learning process. This idea, not so much a learning theory as it is a clever and accurate metaphor, describes learning as having no beginning nor an end.
School is not the only place to learn. Think of all knowledge skills; behaviors; believes you learn after you left school. Humans do learn everywhere.

My conclusion of a quick search for an answer “what is learning” (and what I think I do know about learning): Question unsolved. We do know learning, and we cannot tell what it is. Would that mean learning is a rhizomatic concept?

Image: Most images about learning have arrows. A search for an image to explain and illustrate learning is disappointing. The image in this blogpost maybe it is nothing to do with learning. I made it.

Rhizome and beer?

bosman_wikingToday my friend popped in for a chat. He knows my beer is good.
And again he asked “that rhizome thing tell me more about it.”
Now I was prepared and this is what I told him:
Look at the beer. It is made in Poland but the barley is from Danemark. The can is made of Australian bauxite in France. The carrier to bring the bauxite to France had a Cape Verde crew. One of them was very ill and needed a medical help. A USA warship was near and they took the sailor aboard in hospital.
The can arrived here in the shop by truck, a Polish truck with a Polish driver. He is married and with three children. One of his children is in jail.
On the can is a Viking Ship, the Swedish army once occupied part of Poland and Prussia.

Now he got it.
Oh he said. And the paint on the can is made in China in a factory that pollutes the environment. Now this beer did cause some accidents. That Polish driver was very tired and sad and he almost caused an accident on the road in Germany. The other driver was angry because of this near-accident and he was angry to his friends.

Ah, so ‘rhizome’ means anything is connected to everything else. Well for a start that is not bad. And rhizomatic learning is: Open a can with beer and think of all stories that one could imagine about the beer and the can..

We did talk a lot about the beer and the can. We could write a book about the can and another.

to be or to know? Merleau-Ponty…

Central Park New York
Have you ever been in the wind mill in Central Park New York?
If learning and education is about becoming an adult, to become a grown up person, how could one cheat?
If being a human adult is the most important objective of education, what would cheating look like?
Pretending to know is called cheating.
Pretending to be, what is that?
If someone pretends to be a careful adult and acts like a careful adult, how could we know he is cheating?

Merleau-Ponty: How can anything present itself truly to us since its synthesis is never completed? how could I gain the experience of the world, as I would of an individual actuating his own existence, since none of the views or perceptions I have of it can exhaust it and the horizons remain forever open?

(M.Merleau-ponty phenomenology de la perception p384 translation Umberto Eco in The role of the reader)
Did Merleau-Ponty invent rhizomes?
If it is true that anything we talk about is not finished yet, is stil open, is not completed, how do we call our speaking as if the things are compleet and finished? Are we in a sense cheating reality?

Knowledge, or merchandise?

The increasingly transitory nature of what is lauded as current or accurate in new and developing fields, as well as the pace of change in Western culture more broadly, has made it difficult for society in general and education in particular to define what counts as knowledge.

Is it true that in old days knowledge was more certain and sure?
The definition of knowledge is a matter of ongoing debate among philosophers in the field of epistemology.
The philosopher Plato defined knowledge as “justified true belief.”
Spinoza had to introduce ‘god’ as a foundation of knowledge to avoid uncertainty. (and doing so cheated uncertainty into his philosophy)
Popper wanted to replace the question “How do you know?” with “I do not know, how can I improve my guess?” (Out of error, Ashgate Publishing, David Miller, 2006, page 31)
Maybe ‘What is knowledge?’ always was a difficult question?

Epistemology is a game with a lot of controversies about what is knowledge and about the way we could distinguish true knowledge from unjustified knowledge. Deleuze is only one party in the struggle for intellectual responsibility and honesty inside epistemology.

There is a gap in the argument of transitioning verified knowledge into curriculum:
The expert translation of data into verified knowledge is the central process guiding traditional curriculum development.

For verified knowledge does not exist according to Plato, Popper and many other philosophers.
Here we could introduce cheating as a strategy.
In the curriculum people (experts and stake holders) do introduce so called ‘verified knowledge’. But ‘verified logic’ is very doubtful. Experts are powerful people and that is why doubt is not tolerated in the curriculum. But education and knowledge have lost their innocence. Education is an industry and knowledge is big business.
Alarmingly, education appears to be acquiring the pathological bad habits of the Catholic Church. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. But neither should we be surprised when Martin Luther pops up!

Because education is an industry now, fairness and delivering real quality in education is becoming to be a problem. Jenny Mackness ask the question
Does living in a digitally networked world, a world of rhizomatic learners change what we commonly understand to be the basic moral principles that govern behaviour between learners?

But the world is bigger than relations between learners, these learners do live in a changing world and their knowledge is merchandised.
I do not know if cheating really is a feature of rhizomatic learning.

Text of the song: http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/33449/

After this a came across cheating in arts http://www.webexhibits.org/hockneyoptics/post/grundy7.html You need to know a camera obscura .

A rhizomatic teaching story to show my idea of rhizomatic learning.

Bozeman Opera House
Bozeman Opera House
In an old book (Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig, 1974) on page 170 is the story of a girl student wanting to write a 500-word essay on the USA. She could not write a word. The teacher tried anything to help her and at last He said to her ” Narrow your subject down to the front of one building on the Mainstreet of Bozeman. The Opera house. Start with the upper left-hand brick.”
She wrote a 5000-word essay on this subject.
Robert Pirsig explains that the girl had to look for herself now and she could not rely on the things she learned before.

What is rhizomatic in this story?

That upper-left hand brick is a part of a huge rhizome. You could try to think of the rhizome as all aspects of the stone this girl student could write about.

Try to be that girl, go to the hamburger stand across the Opera House and look at the upper-left hand stone. Look at it and Start to write…

This brick has a history, and a future, has a structure, a function, it is artistic, biological, chemical and physical. This one brick has relations to other stories about industry, transport, finance, politics, juridical and socialogical systems. This brick is part of the world and part of so much stories.

These unseen connections of this upper-left hand brick are part of the rhizome.

And than it became part of this book of Pirsig, and it became part of this MOOC.

If you design a mindmap on this one upper-left hand brick of the Opera House in Mainstreet in Bozeman you will have an illustration of a rhizome.

I would like you to comment on this post.

what about diplomas certificates and cheating?


Is Cheating an intellectual or an economic concept?

Some students want to learn, some other students want a diploma.

Because government and industry focus on diplomas and do not look into learning. That is why government and industry want a very secure and safe system of testing. Diplomas are the key (or passport) to success and economic welfare. Diplomas are a key to prosperity and an escape from poverty.

Schools are not only institutes for teaching and learning, schools are also institutes that sell diplomas. Diplomas are very expensive, students must invest a lot of time and money in buying a diploma at university.

Cheating as teachers look upon it is bad, it is not the proper behavior for someone who is learning.

But cheating as a smart way to buy you and your family a passport for prosperity, that is another story.

You are invited to comment on this text

Rhizome #rhizo14 pre-ORIENT phase

rhizome20th century French Philosophers are so out (in Europe). Even if one reads their books in French, much of it is incomprehensible for most people. Did they write unreadable books on purpose? Deleuze “invented” the rhizome in about 1976. (In an article, now Introduction in Deleuze and Guattari Mille plateaux). In 2005 Patrick Odiard wrote a piece of music “Rhizome”

This is a blogpost on the new MOOC on Rhizomatic learning started by Dave Cormier, start January 14.

As a model for culture, the rhizome resists the organizational structure of the root-tree system which charts causality along chronological lines and looks for the originary source of “things” and looks towards the pinnacle or conclusion of those “things.” “A rhizome, on the other hand, “ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles” (Deleuze and Guattari, 7). Rather than narrativize history and culture, the rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, for a “rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo” (D&G 25). The planar movement of the rhizome resists chronology and organization, instead favoring a nomadic system of growth and propagation.

In this model, culture spreads like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way. The surface can be interrupted and moved, but these disturbances leave no trace, as the water is charged with pressure and potential to always seek its equilibrium, and thereby establish smooth space. [rhizomes.net]
[D&G: Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia . trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1987.]

Did you know rhizome.org? the Rhizome ArtBase is an online archive of new media art containing some 2174 art works, and growing.

Rhizomatic learning #etmooc

EefjeOn You’r the teacher we are discussing a tweet of Christoph Hewett.

In my opinion the question is whether etMOOC should be more student centered and for that purpose give different approaches for newbies and oldies.  (This is a very short resume, you should read the original discussion).

The rhizomatic view on learning, which is the / a philosophy behind the  cMOOC, does not  define and structure the definition of learning. All different kinds of learning and “levels” of learning do fit into a cMOOC.  (I hesitate to use ” levels” of learning, for what is the difference of the learning of a newbie and an oldie? It is not a level of learning.)

If some newbie is wrestling to make a Twitter account, that is learning. Should we help this newbie? Everywhere on internet she can find explanations of Twitter. The cMOOC is as wide as the internet. This newbie could even ask her friends in college to explain Twitter, or her big sister.  That is, the MOOC is a rhizome, without boundaries, and the MOOC-student may connect to anybody and anything to learn.

Frustration and anger are part of learning as the baby next to me shows. Sometimes she is red of frustration because her baby gym does not do what she wants.

The cMOOC has no page with learning goals, or a rubric or a clear purpose. So whatever one learns in a MOOC (or without a MOOC) is OK. Even if it is to make an account on Twitter.

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Rhizome or network in #change11

My network view of knowledge is simple: entities (broadly defined as well, anything: people, a chemical substance, information, etc) have attributes. When entities are connected to other entities, different attributes will be activated based on the structure of those connections and the nature of other entities that are being connected. This fluidity of attribute activation appears to be subjective, but in reality, is the contextual activation of the attributes of entities based on how they are related to other entities. Knowledge then is literally the connections that occur between entities. [http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=329]

in my drawing: E n (an) :  Entity  has attributes.
aa n: activated attributes.

1. Could we know all attributes of Entities?

2. Could we know which attributes will be activated?

3. Could we know the structure of the connections, and how this structure influences the activation of attributes?

4. If E 1 is connected to E 2 and to E 3 lots of attributes do get activated. Can we know how the activated attributes influence Entities, structure of connections, other Attributes?

Can we know all attributes?

If Entity is a person, I do not know all attributes that influence learning. (health, drug use, personal history, earlier learning, motivation). I cannot know all attributes that do influence learning, and I cannot know how all these attributes do influence learning.
If Entity is information, attributes are name, value, authority of source, source, quality, minimum and maximum values, reliability, etc.
I cannot know all attributes because every attribute of Entity information is another Entityinformation

Information seems to be an infinite set.

Can we describe the knowledge network of a person or of a group?

Some networks have boundaries. the network of cells in a human body has boundaries. But do networks of knowledge have boundaries? Or maybe a better question, can we know the boundaries of the network of knowledge of a person or a group? Could we describe and make an inventory of all the knowledge and attributes and connections in a given network?
Could we make a difference between a network of knowledge and a rhizome in this regard? “…Rhizomatic learning is about embracing uncertainty. That’s the goal. Getting to the point in oneself, or helping someone else to get to the point where they are able to confront a particular system, challenge, situation whatever not knowing the answer and feeling like they can decide about it. I try to thinking of teaching, then, as mimicking the process of being confronted with uncertain situations, that develop the literacies required to deal with uncertainty…” [Dave Cormier]

Structure of connections in a learning knowledge network

Structure of connections could be: direction, one-way, two or more directions, capacity of connection, nature of connection, selectivity of connection, conscious or unconscious connection, etc.
Could I know what will be the structure of connections in a learning network?


In a network of knowledge that is well known, mapped, described, creativity would be difficult, because creativity could be “connecting in a new way”. If creativity exists, than the network has some unknown corners.

I do not know if the differences between the metaphors of a network and a rhizome are that big.

I almost forget this: metaphors are not facts, metaphors are not theories.

Letter to Dave Cormier and you #change11

Questions for Dave Cormier on Rhizomatic Learning

I am a slow learner, that is why these questions do pop up now. Your rhizomatic learning theory does sound interesting. “… a distributed negotiation of knowledge can allow a community of people to legitimize the work they are doing among themselves and for each member of the group, the rhizomatic model dispenses with the need for external validation of knowledge, either by an expert or by a constructed curriculum….”

I am struggling to see utility and practicality, just like Keith Hamon.  I would like to ask:
In what way does your theory of rhizomatic learning change the way you teach?
Change11 is about change, and you are part of Change11, so what do you want to change?
Did the rhizomatic learning theory and reading Deleuze change your way of living?
In what way does it change your parenting and being a father?
I am an educational journalist and my readers are non-academic teachers who want to improve their teaching. So please do not use academic language, be practical.
What advice do you give to new teachers?  Could you explain the magic trick to a teacher of bookkeeping, welding, or farming?
What do you tell teachers with a history of teaching? Do you want them to change the way they teach? Please do not explain your theory, but tell them ways to improve their teaching and the learning of their students.
Your theory of rhizomatic learning is it important for students in vocational colleges?
If you could introduce new fresh students at the start of their time in college or univ  how would you do that?
What advice would you give your children in learning?  I bet you do not tell them “…  the intensive becomes hidden under the extensive and the qualitative. …” (DeLanda, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, 119)
Do you discuss your view on learning with the teachers in the school of your children? What do you talk about with them?
Did your theory change the way you learn and study?

Here in the village they say: One fool can ask more than a  thousand of learned man could answer.  The answer on that is of course If the fool does not ask he (always men) never will be a learned man.

Questions for MOOC’ers:

Maybe you could try to answer some of the questions above.
And central question of this MOOC for every student: What do you want to change?