Rhizomatic Learning

Enlightening. This theory is as fun as it is chaotic. Never thought I would say this, but I’m beginning to like chaos…

Dave Cormier is teaching “Rhizomatic Learning” this week in Change11. This theory finds its origins in a plant. Rhizomes are plants that, when given the chance, will take over your entire garden! They are very aggressive, chaotic and resilient, Dave says. Learning can be so too! It’s becoming a networked experience. It used to be something you did with a book that contained knowledge that is “true”, which you learned. Not anymore, you don’t have to listen to the smartest person in the room, you can listen to 50 different sources and create your own knowledge! I liked that approach to learning. Dave also spoke of a garden, in a classroom you need to have guidelines, restrictions… otherwise everything will go out of control. You have to build the garden, to work within these guidelines, inside of this structure you can do what you want. Interesting insights!

Why do we teach?

Our education system dates back to the industrial revolution. It was designed to produce people who were ready to work in factories. They were not required to think or reflect on a subject, instead they just had to replicate! Society has changed since then and evolved into a society of knowledge. Living in a world of abundance, it is key to find information sources and being able to deduct something useful out of it for your situation. To learn from each other and create something new. Dave called these people “nomads”, people who are taking off in different directions, they want to connect with others and create things.

So in order to “prepare” our students for tomorrows world, we have to develop a system where creativity is rewarded. We have to find ways to encourage children to think, to reflect and NOT simply absorb what we tell them.

Just like the plant, our students must reach out to all directions, finding new connections, ideas to think about, learning how to cope with chaos and information overload.


2 thoughts on “Rhizomatic Learning

  1. Hi Lars, chaos is fun.
    One note seems to be not in tune. You write “We have to find ways to encourage children to think, to reflect and NOT simply absorb what we tell them.”
    I would say, children never just absorb what we tell them. They are have a mind of their own. Every parent knows children will never do what you tell them.
    That is why I do not believe the educational system can make “workers” or “nomands”
    Do you enjoy this MOOC? I like the chaotic growth of the MOOC

    • Hi Jaap, thanks for the reply! By “absorb” I don’t mean that they’ll always listen. You’re absolutely right when you say children are rebellious. However, my point was that we can’t “feed” them information, they shouldn’t be like empty cans we can fill with knowledge.
      I think we do can create nomads in education! Well, maybe “create” is not the word, but maybe stimulate certain aspects of a person. So they develop the reflex to think different…

      Change11? I do enjoy it, although I’m not very active, I can’t seem to find the time (oh dear), but I hope I’ll be able to reactivate my efforts! See you soon, somewhere in the course.

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