Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"And it was good..."

"And it was good..." 

And as He, or was it She, or was it IT, 

(or he, she, it, they, we, I, you (?) could never be quite sure) 

reflected on it,
[complete the gap] 

[complete the gap]

decided that it could never be enough. 

[complete the gap] 

felt singularly connected and universally alone.

IT was THAT that was bugging 
[complete the gap]
(him, her, it, them, us, me, you?) 

[complete the gap]. 


All the creation...

in the multiple universes, 
that new bright star,
that new supernova,

[complete the gap
(paltry, awesome...?)

All the experiences...
in the multiple incarnations,
in its (his, her...oh you [don't] get the idea) omniscience...



[complete the gap]

Light, dark, laughter, tears, sweat, toil, blood, decapitation, flower, cloud, sun, moon, and moonshine, rock, eruption, junk food, Hamlet, whatever verb, conjunction, grammar, word, music, your perfume, sex, gap...were as one...but none could ever...

[complete the gap]

Life, death, poverty, wealth, genocide, charity, bounty, cruelty, nout, out, were as  all but one...

[complete the gap]

But one THING was really annoying...

THAT was/is/will forever be...


Thursday, May 14, 2015

There be dragons.


I am tired of community. 

I pack my bags and head South.  

I am sitting here contemplating uncharted territory, listening to crickets.

Peace at last.

I am vigorously avoiding definition, rules, shoulds, ethics, responsibilities...

Sod them all!

The warmth of the sun on my back and the chirping of unseen birds will suffice.

I unfold a map, observe the landmarks, note lines of contours and choose to ignore them all.

I look out to space, out on the margins;  tangled lines lead out to mythological realms.

I write, out of desire...

Out there (?) is smooth space.
Out there (?) dwell dragons...
Out there (?) their unseen, unwieldy forms, arouse my imagination.

I can see dragons now.

Nobody can deny their existence.

Nobody will fight my dragons.

Somebody might chortle at a crudely drawn creature but not even ridicule will dismiss their imaginative reality.

Diving for cover...

I dive underground and am immediately entangled in resistant, unthinkingly, vigorous, rhizomes, weeds.

I valliantly, rationally, struggle, cut, thrash, burn.

DIE will you?

The more I gesticulate, the more I dig, the more they proliferate. 

Unseen bloody weeds!

Reading matter?

I pick up an opened copy of Mille Plateaux...sod it!

I throw the volume into a trash can.

OUT voluminous, tubered frustration!

Its sheer size, its reams of words, takes up most of the can.

It is impossible crap.

It is now real rubbish to be recycled. 


Dense, repellent, dark, dragon-infested shit.

Shit will make for good fertiliser...

Monday, May 11, 2015

An Assemblage too far?

"In the rhizomatic model of learning, curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process."

Dave Cormier

In his article Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum, Dave Cormier sets out a "Rhizomatic model for education".

Might this be an assemblage too far?

Deleuze in a quote taken from what he sees (conveniently) as a 'box of tools', is rather clear about what he sees as the role of education:

"The various forms of education or 'normalization' imposed upon an individual consist in making him or her change points of subjectification, always moving towards, a higher, nobler one in closer conformity with the supposed ideal. Then from the the point of subjectification issues a subject of enunciation, as a function of mental reality determined by that point. Then from the subject of enunciation issues a subject of the statement, in other words, a subject bound to statements in conformity with a dominant reality."  

Deleuze and Guattari, Mille Plateaux.

To cut a long quote short, it appears to me that education and the rhizome make for unhappy flowerbed fellows...

Returning to Dave Cormier's introducton to his 'Rhizomatic Model for Education', he suggests that curriculum is not driven by 'predefined inputs from experts.'

So, here I am, reflecting on a 'predefined input' from Dave Cormier for week 4 of his #rhizo15 course.

I am beginning to wonder what he means by 'input'?

My reflection and that of the other participants is indeed 'driven by input'. Even if we can accept that this particular input has been 'negotitated by those engaged in the learning process', it has been officially sanctionned by the 'course convenor', the 'master of ceremonies', the 'teacher', Dave Cormier.

Aren't participants to this form of educaton being asked to conform to his 'supposed ideal'?

Isn't this a process of 'normalization'?

The giant rhizome.

I note with interest the connections being made between learning in the twenty first century and the internet, or the web.

How often have I heard that we are 'learning in an age of abundance'.

It is so easy to connect this ever linking web with the image of the rhizome.

I am not convinced that we are really 'learning in an age of abundance'.

We might be learning in an age of impoverishment.

The web is a source of the wildest fantasies (singularity), fears, and educative business plans...

It would be difficult to imagine an education today which simply ignores the existence of the World Wide Web.

However, what is the 'dominant reality' of the internet?

What are the dominant values of the internet?

Is learning without bounds education?

If so what is this education that we are proposing?

Isn't it necessary to be critical about this 'dominant' virtuality?

Practicalities of 'connected learning'..

"In the practical example of Couros's class, students created their own rhizomatically mapped curriculum by combining their blogs with information to which Couros pointed them and linking the combination to the particular knowledge that they discovered through discussions with key people in Couros's professional community."

Dave Cormier

OK, in the example taken from Alec Couros's class, we are given what might be described by some as an example of guided, connected learning...in a Canadian university.

The key node in the class is clearly Couros, Couros, Couros.

He is defining the activity, the form of knowledge, the means of knowledge sharing, the professional community, and predefining the discussion probable within the community.

This is one vision of education.

"The role of the instructor in all of this is to provide an introduction to an existing professinal community in which students may participate - to offer no just a window, but an entry point into an existing learning community."

Dave Cormier

OK, what is the difference between the role of the instructor here and the role of an instructor in a 'traditional academic course? Going through various steps towards the gaining of a doctorate and a gown, students are given an entry point and the defined path towards becoming a recognised and robed member of the learning community.

Isn't just that the rituals are changing?

Isn't it that some would like the rituals to change?

Rhizome as metaphor for learning...

"In a sense, the rhizomatic viewpoint returns the concept of knowledge to its earliest roots. Suggesting that a distributed negotiation of knowleged can allow a community of people to legitimize the work they are doing amony themselves and for each member of the group, the rhizomatic model dispenses with the need for external validation of knowledge, either by an expert or by a constructed curriculum."

Dave Cormier.


Hasn't this always been the case within academic communities in the past?

Don't offshoots of existing communites connect with other people and enable a new 'plant' to emerge?

Isn't this the same thing?

This "rhizomatic model dispenses with the need for external validation of knowledge", if we are talking about a "rhizomatic model of education", I do not believe that this "dispenses with the need for external validation."

Isn't education precisely about 'external validation'?

In the case of Alec Couros's program, the curriculum may be rather open but it is most definitely constructed; it is not organic, even if the learning is, or will always be...


A teacher is not required for there to be learning.

I don't believe that you can have an education without a teacher, even if the teacher is distributed by a MOOC.

In  #rhizo14 or #rhizo15 there are clear curriculum choices being made, very clear tool choices and very clear modes of behaviour being encouraged (even silently).

There are indentifiable educative values present in Dave Cormier's videos, introductory statements and blog posts.

I share many if not most of these values.


I believe the rhizome may be a useful image for the construction of knowledge, a metaphor for learning, for the evolution of society, and for the emergence of dominant groups and theories...

I am coming to believe that it may provide the background to endless debates, parlour games, and soul-searching.

I think that Dave Cormier uses it well as a means of entertaining educative dissimulation, like a skilled conjurer pulling a rabbit out of the hat,  to attract people to his vision of education.

I am coming to the conclusion that the 'Rhizomatic Model' for education is a nonsense.





Saturday, May 9, 2015


I suppose this post is what I care about most just now.

I couldn't sleep, it has to come out.

The drawing presently above captures a moment of love.

My daughter was sitting opposite me on the other side of the table and she was busy drawing.

I picked up a piece of paper and took the first drawing insrument I could find.

As often it is,  it was a biro.

After a while, I stretched over to pick up a felt tip colour pen to highlight my scribbling.

My daughter said: "They are my pens." 

I said, "Could I use your pens?" 

She replied, "Yes." 

Before she went to bed, she hugged me.


I had been trying to order my thoughts about what it is to be a "rhizomatic teacher".

I had already written much about different aspects of this in this blog, I decided.

I wanted to draw these aspects together to illustrate my thoughts more concisely for other learners.

I didn't want them ot have to wade through this bloody messy blog map!

I started off by looking for key terms.

I noted them down in a Popplet.

When I am thinking over complex questions, I often use a tool like Popplet.

It acts like bits of paper, post it notes, that I can manipulate on the floor.

I can make connections, I can insert images or videos, I can insert links.

I need to turn objects and concepts and people around in space to grasp stuff better.

At the centre of the web, I had noted: "Teacher as naturalist". 

There are two images I associate with this:

  • a naturalist in a hide to be able to observe and so as not to disturb the wild-life 
  • a naturalist taking a proactive role to release wild-life back into the nature.
To be a "naturalist" also implies felt presence. 

Such a 'felt presence' may be performed in a theatrical performance, I would reference Stanislawski and Chekov here or Jouvet.

I am not suggesting play acting, I am suggesting the actual and authentic embodiment of a role at an instant.

To act is also to be aware of those and that around - to be a listener.

I noted in the circles around 'Teacher as naturalist"

Icon or beacon. The teacher must be identifiable as an actor, as a reference even when back stage in the play.

I noted down blog posts which seemed to connect to this.

What sort of beacon or icon? I ask myself. 

Well I think the answer is that of the co-learner  , a role so dear to Howard Rheingold.

We are always both learner and teacher and researcher and...(well just add the role you want at the moment)

Howard or Alan Levine, or Jim Groom or Dave Cormier are not just brands they are caring humans.

They are actively going about their learning lives.

I noted down blog posts which seemed to connect to this.
I made a note of the moments when a learner feels out of his depth.

I think that the role of the 'rhizomatic teacher' is to enable the learner not to drown, if at all possible!

His or her, or the community's role is to be one of  a life-saver. 

I am reminded of Deleuze's comments in his ABCédaire about the loss of young people to drugs and his sadness at their misunderstanding of his work, and his concern that he could be held responsible.

At times, my learning life and my self-esteem has been saved by the kind, caring, attention of others.

I noted down a couple of posts to illustrate this:
One could add the roles of coach,  of sounding board to the one of life-saver.

I still believe that the teacher has a triggering role for learners.

He/she has a role of a conductor at times when it is possible to introduce support acts. 

He/she maybe an MC or a master of ceremonies.

I made a note of this in one of my last posts.
MC doesn't mean that the teacher has the star billing. 

He/she may act as useful connecting punctuation but his/hers is not the main role. 

Changing realities...

In the theatre of learning, today, teachers must understand that their classrooms must be open to the world.

The walls were always only virtual even if they were made of, and were considered, concrete.

My school doodling was proof to me that the classroom was a virtual reality, even if the school-master thought otherwise.

We are free, if we choose to be.

I noted down a post which illustrates this transition of teacher roles:
This instance that All the world is a stage is a consistent theme to me...

I admit that Shakespeare has an iconic status for me.

I have, I have always had an obsession with space.

Making space is the most important role for the teacher, for the 'rhizomatic teacher'.

Making space also means enabling the learners to connect to other personal 'informal', learning spaces to which we as teachers are and must be excluded.

That implies enabling the learner to connect their spaces, their nodes, to choose their landmarks on their maps.

That implies using technology to connect diverse spaces.

Technology includes language.

I noted down three posts which illustrated this.
Ultimately, the role of the teacher, of the "rhizomatic teacher' is about: 
enabling connections.

The teacher may be a hub, an interface, a model, of connecting to learn, of making connections learning.

I noted down a number of posts which demonstrate this. 

Frankly, I might as well list all the posts in this blog - but that would not be terribly legible! 

So here is a selection...
In order to model connections for others, I think that I have a responsibility to tell stories.

Here is a post where I tell such a story.
I seek to make connections to other people's stories.

I am, if you will, a story collector.

Here is an example of collected stories.

I do believe that Content is People...

The subjective of this blog is to share 'felt presence'.

I suppose this is what one might describe as my 'learning and as my teaching subjectives.'

Frustration with the tool...
Frustration with the frames...

I was getting frustrated with Popplet.

I wasn't sure how to embody rhizomatic learning or teaching adequately.

When I get to this point, I stop.

I do something else.

I might have scrapped the Popplet out of disgust.

I often do...


A few minutes later, I picked up a piece of paper and sat next to my daughter.

My first love is and remains drawing...

When  I was my daughter's age, my father, a clergyman would ask me to illustrate his sermons.

"I am useless at drawing." he would say.

"You are very good at drawing."

I felt empowered.
I loved drawing.
I loved playing a part in his work.

As I tried to sleep and not write this post, I understood what all of this is about.

It is about love.

It is about the meaning of education.

It is an act of EDUCERE.

I couldn't illustrate rhizomatic learning any better than drawing it out for you.

You can read what you like into my drawing.

It is my map.

Please take care of it.

It is, of course, and fortunately incomplete...

I believe my teaching subjective is to draw out learning...

I shall finish with a thank you note, which I tweeted to Dave Cormier.

Thank you too.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Skimming stones...

I stared intently at the pebbles on the shore.

There might be one that would fly just right.

I picked a medium-sized pebble up, weighed it in my hand, turned it around in my fingers to feel the flatness.

Yes, the flatness was fine.

It was just heavy enough but not too heavy.

I placed it carefully in my hand like my brother had shown me.

This time, perhaps for the first time, I might have the measure of him.

Already, I was dreaming of six, seven eight ricochets across the loch, in the dimming summer light.

I gave the stone an almighty flick and watched it skim...-...-...-...-...-...-...-

Learning to skim...

I suppose, given a long time and a lot of imagination, I might have come up with idea of skimming stones.

I suppose the years that I had spent watching the older children play had helped me understand the gestures...

It had given me something to aim for...

I suppose that this time I was old enough.

I was ready.

In the end, I supose it had been really the time spent with my brother which gave me the desire to play this game.

Skimming stones online...

It was no accident that I became aware of Dave Cormier.

It was a natural progression from the first blogs that I started reading, a few years ago now, - those of Stephen Downes, Steven Wheeler, Graham Atwell and co.

The years that I spent observing from afar, picking up pebbles, weighing them up, skimming them privately in my little pond were preparation.

I enjoyed the activity of learning...networking and learning online.

I suppose that I was not aware of the progression or of the map that I would draw.

It is always easier to understand the map after one has left one's tracks...

Bounce 1: Rhizo 14

Like many others, I chose to do #rhizo14 because I was familiar with the stones which had been skimmed before.

I had seen the videos on MOOCs, studied the blog, the slides.

I wasn't going out across the lake without an idea of direction.

The fact that I would meet other people who interested me is not surprising.

I had been networking actively over a number of years.

Eventually, if you search intelligently, you find the people that you can connect with.

Bounce 2:  Connected courses

Once you have found a group of people that you can get on with, one thing leads to another...

The presence of Howard Rheingold and Alec Couros as faciliators for the #ccourses MOOC was attractive.

Over the years, I had developed the skills necessary to benefit from the experience.

I could have had the best teacher in the world in the past but would have been unable to participate fully before.

Bounce 3: CLMOOC

I followed some of my new friends...

Bounce 4: MOOCMOOC

I followed some of my new friends...

Bounce  4: Rhizo 15

Thinking about the week 4 challenge in #rhizo15 now: "Is a Dave necessary?" well I suppose now, the answer would be that he, as in 'the Dave Cormier', is not really so necessary for me today.

I like it when he is doing what he does.

I don't think that he is irreplacable.

He has done his job.

He has done a great job.

He has rendered himself almost redundant...

There are other interesting educators out there to work with that I was unfamiliar about before.

I am getting to the point where one MOOC can bounce into another, when connecting with some friends will lead me to more adventures around the web loch.

Is a 'dave necessary' to an cMOOC online course?

I would say that that depends on the skill-levels and the connections of the participants and what you define as course.

'Is a 'dave' better than a team of 'daves' - I think that it is potentially more interesting to have a team working as facilitators now.

Bounce 5: ....

Once you get the knack connecting the dots, connecting the MOOCs, skimming the stones becomes easier.

In the beginning you need somebody that can model activity, that can introduce you to others to practise with, to measure yourself against, to ask the right questions.

There was my brother...and there was a Dave...it could have been somebody else.

No matter now.

This is my story of skimming stones.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


OK guys, we agree, you don't really need a matchmaker to meet that perfect partner but let's face it in these days of Bowling Alone, it sure helps!!!

There's no shame in getting a bit of assistance these days.

Those little crutches are everywhere on the net...

And we are not just talking about getting connected to the first lurker or troll.

Our members are a select, er... a very select group.

And we are not just talking about getting connected for a short time.

We're talking about life-long learning guys.

And we are not just talking about meeting people in your neighbourhood.

No Siree we're talking about GLOBAL REACH guys.

And we are not just talking.
And we are not just tweeting.

And we are not just chatting...

And we are not just hanging out.

Er hum.


We are multiply and diversely connecting guys.

Just think of all those cool dolls, dames, lads, ladies, guys, gentlemen, and folk that you could meet!!

More and more people lead such busy lives that they just don't have time to waste on unpredictable encounters.

More and more people are realising that a little internet serendipity can open up new doors to new experiences...

Yep, those nodes have never been so close to clicking.
Yep, those neurones have never been so close to firing.

But, there's a catch!!

Many of us, are at a loss to know where to start with all those billions of people on line.

Where the hell do you start???

More and more people are realising that their lives may be enriched by meeting those special people from a completely different culture!!!

Down at the Rhizomatic Matchmaker Bar we attract cool creatives and deep thinkers from around the world.

How do we do it?


We like to call that secret formula: CONNECTIVISM.

Yeah CONNECTIVISM baaby...

How do we do it?


We are the only bar to have the one and only, the original: Mr MC MOOC.

(MC - Master of Ceremonies. MOOC - Matchmaking Openly Online Cheaply)

You don't believe we're different?

Yeah, you're right to be wary on the WWW (the Wild West Web).

Just Google Dave Cormier for a full press pack and glowing references...

Thanks to Mr MC MOOC David Cormier esq you will be able to meet plenty of suitably genuine people.

They'll be just dying to share their obscure blog posts, to speed crowd chat on Twitter with those cool #rhizo hashtags and get deep down on the thousand plateaux with those classy continental kings of chaos Deleuze and Guattari.



Dave Cormier preparing another Matchmaker meet up.

Dave hosts special events every Tuesday night when he speaks to y'all from the fireside of his Canadian log cabin and talks cosy like.

It may not last long but, god damn it, he's good.

It may not last long cos we are talking MOOC (matchmaking openly online cheaply).

That's why we are able to charge so little...

(Yeah Dave makes money on the drinks and the peanuts.)

Sure there are competing Matchmakers...

None of them are as Maassiive!
None of them are so openly open!
None of them are as between the lines!
None of them are so diversely connected!

Sure there are some corporations who are trying to blind you with that phoney MOOC 4 science.

They even pretend to have invented a new advanced form of MOOC!!!

HA HA HA HA...(etc)

DON'T listen to those charlatans!!!

(often copied never surpassed)*TM

Thanks to his recipe of Canadian charisma, deeply tricky challenges and crazily mindful games, people just let loose and start singing, dancing, opening up their hearts, writing poetry and sharing true rhizomatic looove.

Y'll never know who y'll meet in the Rhizomatic Matchmaker Bar...

Y'll never know who'll put that special comment on your blooog...

Y'll never know who'll be your curriculum  baaby...

And y'know what?

Before you know it, that crafty MC has disappeared to munch peanuts and drink Molson, leaving you to it.

I know it sounds odd but he's a MOOC magician.


Y'know we like to say in the bar that CONTENT is people.

Yeah... CONTENT by the people, for the people, with the people in the end y'know...that just makes people CONTENT.

And when we say CONTENT we mean CONTENT.

Special needs?

There's even a Rhizomatic Matchmaker Email list for those of you still living in the 20th century.


Yeah get lost in the rhizome, map your path, unleash those multiple identities.

Undiscerning members can join a busy Facebook group.

More reserved members can seek out the quieter corners of a Google Plus Community.

Curation fetishists have even started up a Diigo dungeon.
(we have no idea what goes on there)

If you are really wanting to get cosy, then just nip out of that hashtag stream and let fly a DM or even have that special private hangout.

So in the end, guys, y'll know who to thank for that special education!!


That's our boy....Dave Cormier.

And now join our girls from our RhizoRussia branch for that classic Karaoke chartbuster.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Being here...

Where shall we start?

There's a dog barking in the garden, black-birds singing in the trees, the French lunchtime news on TV...

And here I am.


I am contemplating lines, strata, circles, points...

This is all getting rather too mathematical or geographical.

Perhaps it is historical or biological?

Blimey!  It may even be ecologically philosophical!

Oh bloody hell!
Why worry?

How many more -cals can I find? (oh don't answer that)  

If I knew, would I understand more?

"Why do we acknowledge only our textual sources but not the ground we walk, the ever-changing skies, mountains and rivers, rocks, and trees, the houses we inhabit and the tools we use, not to mention the innumerable companions, both non-human animals, and fellow animals, with which and with whom we share our lives?"

Tim Ingold.

And then I was no longer alone.

Where are we?

This is a personal question.

I am rather aware that I am a flow of contradictions.

Should I be listening to the TV news?
Should I ignore the dog?
Should I put a photo there?

There's you and I and i and you and...

You are coming at this from a completely different angle..

Why stop at angles?
Why not dimensions?
Why not time zones?
Why not depths?
Why not stories?

What a bloody right tangle this is...being...written... here.

Completely Random Aside:

Why is Stephen Clarke speaking about Buffalo Bill?
(he was on TV that instant)

I have been getting to think a lot about native Americans these past few days.

This line of study was retriggered by an exchange with Dave Cormier on Twitter. (Oh gawd...)

We have been talking interminably about the myth of content.

It is the word myth that is intriguing me more.

The word content is beginning to feel like a pervasive prison.

We have all the content in the world but we appear to be unhappily self-contained.

I suspect that is why we speak so much.


I am coming to the impression that the concept 'content' hides a distinct world view...the politics, the economics of enclosure, of appropriation, of extraction, of individual isolation/wealth/poverty/identity, of identifiable authors, of 'scientific progress', of superiority over nature..


And listen oh...How little!

It seems to me that this is about religion versus spirituality, ambition versus becoming.

I tweeted a throw-away remark:

There seems to be at the heart of my wonderings a question....

as regards our relationship with space.
(our environment?)

as regards our orientation within what we call society.
(or should that be in what we call life?) 

Ah yes, I had forgotten that I had posted this tweet here:


I am quite sure that it is no coincidence that I have come across (is that the word?) the writing of Tim Ingold, notably a book entitled Being alive.

I bumped into him (as it were) when investigating how to connect Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome with religion (as one does).

I found this article, entitled Rhizomatic Animism.

I immediately fell in love with the title.

It sounded lordily, seriously, scientific to me.

I felt immediately more intelligent.

It was incomprehensible but tripped joyfully off the tongue.

'TicMism' I have caught a 'Ticmism'.! Is that a sort of insect? 

I rather have the impression that if there are many who have stopped believing in GOD, we have been left with the cells of monks and a rather nasty empty space to fill.


(I have no idea what this means - I am sorry)

(It's art - it doesn't have to mean anything.)

(Oh shut up!)



What was it that I read the other day about science killing life in order to dissect it?

I can't remember now.

I hesitated to go and look but the the dog barking distracted me.

Then I noticed a tweet of Aras

I immediately noticed the tiny spot accorded to GOD.
I immediately noticed the angled arrow of modern scientific progress.
I immediately noticed the tangled mess of Post-Modernism.

OOOH lovely another ism.

What does one have to do to become an ism? (don't answer that)

From animism to Post-modernism and back again. (if we are lucky)


I am reminded of this is water.

I am reminded of Alan Levine's ever-changing perspectives...

I make a note to read Aaron's post on what counts.

I am reminded of Terry Elliott's work...inside...outside boundaries.

A light breeze is dancing on my skin.

I can feel the hairs on my arms moving.

I can hear the leaves in the trees...

There is an ad break on TV.

The news program is surely not finished...

The exams are.

I have finished counting.

Perhaps in #rhizo15 we are not learning so much.

I am not counting.

Perhaps we are rather learning 'being here'?

A wind is blowing.

Are myths a means of orientation in the wild or the walls of a lonely cell?

And at just that moment...