An invitation to participation in rhizo15

Blog post writing in my house is a study in contrasts. I will pace around the house, pick up my guitar for ten minutes, read an article, and then write a 1000 word blog post in 20 minutes. After this, I am useless for about an hour (or longer, depending on who you ask). Bonnie (@bonstewart) will sit, still, in the corner of the couch for as many hours as we can scrape out of a life where a 6 and almost 9 year old flit in and out of the room. That flitting comes from their father. It’s how i work. Bonnie is a crafter. Every sentence, every turn of phrase is measured against her sensibility and her intellect. I write a blog post, read it over once and hit publish.

Bonnie sees all possibility, and narrows from there. I, for reasons that people may intuit, will tend to focus obsessively on one idea for short periods of time. Bonnie’s approach produces better writing, mine is faster :). That difference at the middle of my practice as a thinker has got me to thinking about all the potentially different approaches out there that people are going to have when they look at #rhizo15. What we’ve had going so far is going to suit some people’s approaches more than others.

The first 4 days of #rhizo15 have been pretty intense. We’ve had over 2500 tweets, lots of activity on the facebook page and a very interesting set of blog posts from around the world. There are new ideas, new people and, clearly, people who already know each other and are sharing ideas they’ve been working on for a while. I’ve been watching the tagboard, and been very much enjoying the bursts of creativity that I’m seeing everywhere… but i’ve been worrying about what people may think their participation SHOULD be.

there is no WAY to participate
I believe that people come to every situation with a map of where they’ve been and how they’ve known things. While it’s possible to graph a predetermined structure of knowledge onto that map, I tend to think of it as always alien. Like adding a prefab shed to the side of a house. There is a chance that the shed is the same style as the house, but it isn’t terribly likely. It will always be ‘shed’ and won’t be ‘house’. If we can build more organically to our knowledge map, if we approach these situations from where WE are, then there’s a better chance that the learning process is a growth process, a natural extension to what you’ve already known. Our warren just gets new rooms 🙂

The reason that participation instructions for rhizo are so vague is not that I don’t have feeling about it, it’s that I think deep learning has to be deeply personal. I’m hoping to allow folks a chance to participate in spaces that are comfortable for them. One of the central guiding principles in my design of this course is that I need to be constantly creating space. Space for different ideas, space for people to think new things. It is a course about me always saying less. This, hopefully, will give permission for everyone else to say more. The more you guys say about this topic, the more I learn. A side effect of this, I’m starting to think, is that it makes it harder to encourage new people to participate.

One potential approach
If you have been looking at rhizo so far and thinking that it doesn’t quite suit your way of working, I offer one potential approach for giving it a try.

  1. This is a list of week 1 blog posts
  2. Pick one that resonates.
  3. Leave a comment
  4. Approach mirror, give the person in the mirror a high five
  5. return contentedly to previous activity

Once you have made one comment, you’ll have contributed to the course. After that, how far you take it is up to you. If that’s what participation looks like for you, that’s all it ever needs to be.

If you’ve never blogged before, and think you might want to give it a try…

start a blog on wordpress.com

You may only post once in your life, or you may find that it becomes a place from which you communicate with others who are interested in what you are interested in.

Community Curriculum
At every moment of dissonance there is a chance to learn. I am always hoping that we will have participation from someone who does not think ‘they belong’. The more different kinds of input, the more perspectives that engage, the more fun this process is for everyone. If you have thoughts, convergent or divergent, find a way to share them. If you aren’t sure how, message me. Whatever your background or interest, consider this an invitation for you to participate in ways that work for you.

Links
Week One Assignment
Practical guide to rhizo15

A practical guide to Rhizo15

Welcome Aboard
Rhizomatic learning is one story for how we can think about learning and teaching in a complex world.

Think of this course as a camp you can visit for six weeks. The camp has a theme ‘a practical view’ of rhizomatic learning. That means that this year we’re hoping to talk about how Rhizomatic Learning can and does happen in a classroom, in a knitting circle or on the front stoop.

This is the second year of camp. We have some returnees from last year. Some of them have #rhizo14 Tshirts on (actually, that’s not a metaphor, some of them really do have #rhizo14 tshirts). They are not the boss of you. What we talk about at camp is really up to you. You get to choose what you think and work about. The community (you guys, hopefully) is the curriculum. This is a new year.

Why am I doing this?
I’ve been working with the idea of rhizomatic learning for close to 10 years. I get the feeling that learning is a very messy place, and the story of the rhizome is one that i have found super useful in explaining things i’ve seen happen in learning spaces. This is my research lab, in a sense, and ya’ll are researching along with me.

What will happen in this course?
Great question. I’m not sure yet. I know that I will post the first challenge on April 15th. I’ll post it in the newsletter, I’ll tweet it to #rhizo15, I’ll post it in the facebook group and I’ll post it on the course blog.

I should take this course if…?
You’re interested in participating in a discussion about learning. I can’t really say much more than that. We’re going to take a look at some of the practical implications of saying that learning is messy and uncertain. It can be confusing. It can, sometimes, be upsetting. It’s super fun though, and it’s a great way to push your thinking with the ideas of folks from around the world.

Tweet #rhizo15 right now. Say hi. See what happens.

Course blog
http://rhizomatic.net is the closest thing we’ll have to a home base. You can go there and see what’s going on a given week, ask questions, or make comments on those posts. Frankly, you never need to actually go there, if you don’t like, but if you want an overview, that’s the closest you’re going to get. I’ll also post links to projects accompanying #rhizo15 that people have asked me to put up there.

Tracking Rhizo15 should be a good page too…

Twitter
Twitter is my chat platform of preference. Put your stuff up there, put the #rhizo15 hashtag on it, and there’s a fair chance that someone else will get back to you. Be persistent, if you don’t hear the first time, post again. Try posting at a different time of day. Don’t give up. Respond to others. Make connections. This course is, maybe fundamentally, about making connections.

Facebook
I have so many mixed feelings about Facebook… but i do know that it totally works for some people. The course group for #rhizo15 is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1516869091918393/

A LAST NOTE
One of the central narratives of rhizomatic learning is the idea that learning is at once a deeply personal, individual process and something that only happens in collaboration with others. We are all different, but we need each other.

By all means, push people’s ideas… please do not push people.

Connect with everyone. Try and understand what they are saying and why they are saying it. And, on the other side, understand that when people push your ideas, they aren’t pushing you. We do not need to agree with each other, to learn from each other.

NOTE: @sensor63 did a great job of challenging this post http://tachesdesens.blogspot.fr/2015/04/no-pushing-please.html

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“Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears, is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales. It is not good either to forget the questions that philosophy asks, or to persuade ourselves that we have found indubitable answers to them. To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.” Bertrand Russell – History of Western Philosophy. retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1167354-history-of-western-philosophy-and-its-connection-with-political-and-so