Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Faustian pact.

Saint Wolfgang and the Devil, by Michael Pacher.

"Faustian bargain [( fow -stee-uhn)] Faust, in the legend, traded his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge. To “strike a Faustian bargain” is to be willing to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge or power."

I see that participants in the Rhizomatic Learning Facebook Group have been playing around with its title...again.

The lastest version, unless it has been changed while I write this is:

Rhizomatic Learning - Uncut.

I find this comes with a certain amount of irony.

Let me explain.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday looking through and annotating an e-book created by Dave Cormier entitled: "Making the community the curriculum." 

In the introduction there is a presentation of "rhizomatic learning" which I have framed in a Vialogues for future possible annotation.

In the video Dave Cormier introduces his appropriation/extraction/cutting of the rhizome from the work of Deleuze and Guattari to talk of 

  •  the complex, unpredictable, nature of learning

  •  .the idea that important/interesting learning is complex and does not follow a predefined path

  •  "rhizomatic learning" as an approach which is concerned with important, complex learning 

  • "rhizomatic learning" as an approach which has no predetermined outcomes

  • "rhizomatic learning" as approach which enables learners to confront/understand/deal with the complex nature of knowledge and learning 

To illustrate complexity he connects "rhizomatic learning" to Dave Snowden's Cynefin Framework

To what extent does the "rhizomatic learning" approach have emergent learning as its objective, I wonder? 

Are there levels of "rhizomaticness"?

To what extent is building of (pseudo/model) community essential in "rhizomatic learning." 

As far as I can make out - the formation of some sort of community is at the heart of the "rhizomatic learning approach".

We must surely differentiate between "rhizomatic learning" "rhizome as story of learning" and "rhizomatic learning approach." 

One aspect of my personal experience of the "rhizomatic learning approach" which has been particularly interesting is how different learners have been drawn to different attractors present of which these are a number:

"rhizome as story of learning"

"rhizomatic learning approach"

"rhizomatic learning"

"rhizome, knowlege and power"

Deleuze and Guattari's "rhizome" and in particular the source for Dave Cormier's its appropriation - "A thousand Plateaux."

 This is what I find ironic in the title "Rhizomatic Learning - Uncut."

Some of the conflict within "Rhizomatic Learning" "communities" has come from an unholy alliance of these various strands. 

This has made for good sport (seen from the perspective of some) or a frustrating/confusing experience (seen from the perspective of others.)

In order to make sense of what people have been trying to do/learn under the umbrella term "rhizomatic learning" we are obliged to cut it up into different strands/tendencies.

This morning I spent some time rereading Dave Harris's very helpful review of #rhizo15  entitled helpfully:

"Rhizo15 - some thoughts on an online course." 

For anyone interested in trying to unravel some of these aforementioned strands I recommending reading the above.

Dave Cormier's comment on Dave Harris' review illustrates how he has extracted Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome and also how the original rhizome pursues him...

Dave Cormier Dave Harris... I guess I call it Rhizomatic Learning because that's how I came to the ideas. I've certainly never called it 'an exact representation of the ideas of Deleuze and Guattari' or made claims to a 'close reading'. I keep returning to Deleuze especially... but to ATP in general for inspiration. I am not, nor do I ever hope to be seen as a 'real' academic. I'm trying to translate concepts that i think are very important to make them useful to people... and i don't really care if those people 'get them right'. Dewey looms large in any good conversation about learning and you're right, you could pretty much take anything from the 'constructive wing' of the learning house and call it Dewey. I've always been frustrated by the lack of play that these concepts get... even though i've met hundreds of people who seem to need these concepts to combat RANDian type concepts.

The reason I don't call it connectivism is that I find connectivism too tidy. Too tied to authority. Much like your close reading of ATP, I wonder what the purpose is of trying to get things right in that way. You no doubt have a deeper knowledge of the work than I do, and the work you put into your review of #rhizo15 is amazing. And you could be right (and certainly are in some instances) we were not always rhizomatic or rhizomatic enough. We were not 'right' in our rhizo-ness.

My life experience has been that we aren't really served by getting things 'right' in the complex domain. Sure i want the angle on the wings of the airplane I'm flying in to be right... and I"m happy someone negotiates those complicated things. What I'm grasping for is to find a way to encourage the multiple, to support complexity. There are LOTS of ways that didn't happen. But I was trying to find a way to have it happen without forcing it. The negotiations, the lines of flight this might engender, the literacies that it builds... those seem more important to me somehow.

 Ultimately Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome is resistant, it pops up all over the place, is difficult to control, if you cut a part of it, it replants itself...

One might say that Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome is a damn sight more resistant than Dave Cormier's version...

If one makes a pact with the Devil (Deleuze and Guattari) it appears he (they) wants all your soul.

There is another Faustian pact being made here, one might suggest:

"The rhizomatic learning approach" has been tied to the internet with its unholy alliance of geek hippy liberation and triumphant, globalising, neoliberal capitalism. 

If the "Community is the curriculum" what the hidden curriculum?

If the community is disconnected from local territory, from local culture, what is the value of the community?

Who profits from a disembodied community? 

If one makes a educational pact with the internet, as a progressive educator, or as a critical educator, are our souls at risk of damnation?










  1. I am all for the dirt beneath the rhizome ... that's where the unexpected blooms wild ...

    1. I think we agree Kevin. I am not sure we need the rhizome.

    2. I am sure we don't need the rhizome.

  2. I sold my soul to the internet years ago, I just didn't realise. Do I care? I dunno.

    1. Me to. I am not sure if I care.

    2. Are you familiar with the term "inalienable"? It is in the U.S. Constitution and refers to slavery and indentured servitude. The principle behind it is that you cannot turn yourself into property...legally. So, I, in my most lawyerly garb, insist that you cannot sell your soul as property...legally. The question is: can we alienate our souls from our selves? Yes, but we can renege on the contract anytime we want. That is why contract's with the devil are such hogwash. Now, there may be blowback from telling the powersthatbe to get stuffed, but that is just normal wear and tear. You can get your soul back any time you want. I say so. [gavel cracks decisively]

    3. I ain't sold all my soul only shares in it.

  3. http://impedagogy.com/wp/blog/2015/05/17/ok-rhizomatic-learning-theory-is-just-a-crock/