The rhizome cannot be followed. It cannot be copied or traced or reproduced. There is no grammar of rhizomatic learning.
I came upon the idea of rhizomatic learning when I was trying to understand what was happening in the first year of developing an alternative learning environment for 10 high school students with a broad range of academic abilities. The question posed to them was, “What do you want to learn?” I had no idea what I was doing and I tried to keep it that way. Let me explain.
If I was to create an alternative learning environment, then it had to truly be an alternative to traditional notions of learning in school. Considering I had taught for 20 years, I had to do a brain reset. Not easy. The focus would be, well, learning. That’s it. I stuck with a few ground rules:
1. I cannot do here what is being done in regular classrooms.
2. Learners must be given the freedom to experiment and fail while trying.
3. We’ll figure out how to assess the learning after it has happened.
The theory was mapped after the action. The idea of the rhizome as a theory? of learning was useful in discussing and sharing the kind of learning that occurred. Here I agree with Bonnie Stewart‘s previous writing that the rhizome idea of learning is a lens to view learning:
“Rhizomatic learning lenses are…intended to make you see differently.”
Terry Elliot asks why the new language for learning. Why can’t “learning” just be “learning?” Because the connotation of learning created by institutions (What did you learn today?) is about reproducing a body of knowledge created by someone else. I did not set out to create a “program” that could be reproduced. I did set out to do learning differently and needed language to talk about what the students and I experienced. The meaning came through the doing.
We have this tendency to organize and categorize and label and to not want to be confounded. How boring. I want to be forced to be a participator in constructing meaning by having to wrestle with ideas, to hack off some and to let others grow. We are pattern-making meaning-makers.
How do you assess this mess?
Assessing learning, when the community is the curriculum is problematic as the learning is part of the community and not just the individual. Learning is the community. We certify certain kinds of learning, placing a value on it so that it can be redeemed for work. Will MOOC learners and unschoolers and uncollegers gain equal community value for their learning?
I joined this course to make connections, to add nodes to my network of knowledge. I want to be part of others’ networks, hence I blog and flog my blogging seeking connecting responses.