I have been a reflective lurker (well, hopefully reflective) in Dave Cormier’s #rhizo14 – not so much actively participating as trying to carve out some time at least once a week to scan through the goings-on and see what I can discover. Especially interested in the questions I posted about teacher presence, as noted in my introductory post.
As I drifted through a number of blog posts and tweets, two events caught my attention. And I am thinking a bit about the connection between them, my questions, and the challenges that Dave poses in his weekly prompts for Rhizo14 learners. Half-baked thinking for certain. I am trying to make sense here, and am doing so while paying less deep attention to the goings-on than I am comfortable with. But hey. This is my blog. Deal with it. 🙂
Maddie describes in a wonderful post (Tilling the Soil) her first-person experience of one of the more written about events of the week. Let me quote directly, because it’s such a great example of caring and commitment:
I am reading through blog posts that have sprung up after I posted this on the rhizo14 group on Facebook:
I find it ironic that people talk about their qualifications and researches and their ability to read and understand critical theory when that is not the aim of this uncourse at all. As long as everyone “gets” the generic meaning of it, all is well and we progress as a community. How everyone reaches to the end is immaterial. If you get the theory without reading it, you have cheated brilliantly.
Furthermore, I would like to assert my independence and state that I am not an academic and yet wish to be part of this uncourse. Does that make me “Un-qualified” to take it up? If we are to question the very foundation of the education system and try to change it so as to include one and all in a whole big community, then it shouldn’t matter whether I am a phd or a college drop out, should it? This is how a rhizome breaks.
Perhaps that was my way of unsettling the soil to make it healthy again for unrestrained growth.
Did I do it on purpose? No. Did I wish to make jabs at privileged people? No. Did I project such an outbreak? No. Did I want to make people uncomfortable? Probably yes. Perhaps to make them think and take charge. It started a discussion between academics and non academics or as my frainger Ary calls them pragmatists and theorists. It shook things up – the rhizomes multiplied and divided. It made some of us to stop and take notice of our actions and behaviours as academics, non-academics, pragmatists, wanna be academics, recovering academics etc. It was an opening of sorts to make people stop and spend some time to self assess and self re-mediate.
Jenny Mackness also recounts this event, using it to help define the messiness of Week 2. Jenny is a brilliant synthesizer of goings-on and I am shamelessly using her talent to my own benefit. (I am keeping track though, and take seriously repaying my lurker debts).
In her post where she reflects on the Maddie-moment I think she puts her finger on an important point regarding unlearning. She writes:
In my reflections on this week’s messiness and the possible causes for it – not that messiness per se is a bad thing in the learning process – I have wondered whether it is not so much ‘learning’ that we need to do in relation to this course, but ‘unlearning’… I have been wondering whether we need to unlearn our assumptions about communities and groups in relation to rhizomatic learning. Despite the fact that the course title is Rhizomatic Learning – the Community is the Curriculum – can we assume that rhizomatic learning equates to community and/or group learning? For me ‘network’ or something similar might work better.
I know Tanya Lau through open learning events like #rhizo14 and cross-commenting on our blogs. We both share a common set of interests around learning and organizations. She is part of my personal learning network, and we’ve been holding a bit of a sidebar conversation about #rhizo14 in Google+ in a community space to which several of us belong. Jan Webster captures one of the longer G+ conversation strings on her blog.
Tanya is the focal point of event 2. It begins with Kevin Hodgson’s (@dogtrax) brilliant “Steal this poem” intro post to Cormier’s challenge of week 1 to explore “cheating as learning.” Kevin recounts the full story in his follow up post, A Stolen Poem Finds its Way Home and references Tanya’s gifted work. It’s poetic, visual and reflective all at once. She tells the story in her own post rhizo14: Stole that poem. But the payoff is this:
Hmmmm…so, uh, what’s the point?
Honestly? I have no freaking idea. I’m surfing here, just paying attention to what captures my attention, as I think about the question that I am using to filter my own learning during #rhizo14: What is teacher presence in rhizomatic learning?
Dave encourages us to be more comfortable with the contradictions of “enforcing independence.” And I am beginning to think – have thought for awhile, actually – that the capability we need to develop as educators is to recognize and call out those moments that help hit the reset button on “learning.” We need – as Helen Crump writes – “to not only encourage learners to pursue their passion, but to honour their unique experiences and to give them voice.”
And what that looks like is: Maddie tilling and Tanya stealing. And all of us unlearning a bit.