Poststructuralism and Rhizomatic Learning #wweopen13

Poststructuralism and Rhizomatic Learning #wweopen13

In reading this weeks’ posts by David Cormier at the University of PEI, I found myself saying but … but … but …

It then occurred to me that we were approaching education from a very different worldview. This is one of those times where I am exceedingly thankful that one of the required courses in my PhD program was an exploration of different epistemologies – as educational research has a lot of variants, and educational researchers can value very different things in their research. I read his articles on Learning in a Time of Abundance and another on Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum, and I found myself reflecting on how I just don’t get post-structuralism. I found myself asking questions – challenging what I was reading – and realized that my challenges were all related to my pragmatic worldview. My notes go something like:

  • Ya but, can rhizomatic education work for notices who don’t know what they don’t know?
  • Ya but, where does scaffolding fit into this type of learning environment?
  • Ya but, how could you possibly do this in a scalable manner? And if it doesn’t scale, is it practical?
  • Ya but, doesn’t is just look like disorganization, rather than looking like flexibility?
  • Ya but, what about learners who need/want structure?

Of course I realize that in part I find myself falling into a trap that I often criticize – that of trying to make one pedagogy fit all. The reality is that this rhizomatic education does not need to work for all to be a valid pedagogy. It just needs to work for some – and although I don’t necessary get post-structuralist thinking, I find it rather ironic that this type of pedagogy does work for me!

4 Replies to “Poststructuralism and Rhizomatic Learning #wweopen13”

  1. Ha!

    Thanks for showing us the thought process… 🙂

    It totally doesn’t work for everything. There are times when we are simply passing on cultural practices (teaching academic writing for instance) where more structure is needed.

    I try to constantly return to the same question – what are we trying to do with the learning process? I’m trying to mimic a learning environment (with some supports) that they will find when they leave my classroom. I don’t want them to be dependent on me to judge their success or to help them make decisions. Ideally, when they leave my class they don’t need me anymore. In order to reach that place, I believe that they need to live inside some of the messiness. Some of the disorder. It helps to prepare them for practical application.

    Because, at the end of it all, rhizomatic learning is EMINENTLY practical. It mirrors the actual world rather than living in a constructed safe world where things can be measured, where success is something that is judged for you and where there are right answers. The vast majority of the questions I’m forced to answer in my personal life or my work life are not ‘yes/no’ but mostly maybe.


    1. One area that we often don’t talk about is effeciency in learning – in that sometimes, the reason someone wants to attend a lecture, or watch a quick video, is just that it is quick. It may not be the best way to learn it (for deep learning), but it is the quickest way to learn something – at least superficially, and sometimes that is all that you need.

    2. The ideas about teaching learning how to learn and the teacher becoming redundant at the end of the process resonate with me. I had a violin teacher when I was a kid who always told me she was teaching me how to teach myself and when i think about how I have progressed my skills on this instrument (which normally is taught in a highly discipined and structured and carefully scaffolded way) i realise that this approach is probably what has kept me coming back to the instrument over the years when almost all of my contemporaries have given up their musical instruments ( old school music teachers have a lot to answer for!)

      I love the idea of the rhizome creeping in several different directions at once and getting nurturance from the rich soil which in turn feeds the above ground foliage.. ..maybe the teacher role in this world is most akin to the composter..the gatherer of a rich mixture of highly nurturing material and then working out ways to allow the rhizomes to access it…just a thought…

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