W19 Becoming Educational: Enforcing independence

This week was a Study Week and Wednesday being the day before submission date we offered one to one tutorials on the Research Proposals. Many students came – the proposals look really interesting – and we are looking forward to reading them – and to seeing the outcomes of your research.


Resources – get reading those blogs!!

We have already re-blogged several posts from the MOOC #rhizo14: The Community is the Curriculum for you to read this week (and in the weeks before) – if you have not yet seen them – please scroll back through #becomingeducational and have a good read. The beauty of academic blogs is that whilst they are on-topic for you, they are much more user-friendly than the typical academic article. So don’t waste them!!

Below is a great summarizing blog post from #rhizo14 that covers all the topics that we have: ‘cheating’ as a tool to critique education; enforced independence; teaching in uncertainty; books is making us stupid; community as curriculum; leaving the nest. These are all the concepts and ideas that you will be wrestling with as educationalists – so have a look at this post – and its links – and think even more deeply about these ideas. If you like the approach and style of some of the writers – follow their blogs…


Get ready to rumble!

Next week: We are moving towards the part of the module where you become the curriculum as we attempt to enforce independence on you. That is, we will want you to declare an interest in running a particular event for your fellow #becomingeducational students. We are modelling the process first. In W21 we have two events for you that you need to attend!! This is not optional – these are both part of your experiential course work.

Tuesday 4th March is the Get Ahead Conference http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/get_ahead_conf/. Not only are some of your fellow students presenting (and so you MUST support them!!!) we want you to experience the conference as participant observers (as you did with your roving around the University – exploring it as a series of learning spaces). As you experience the conference ask yourselves what you like about it – what works… Also – consider what does not appeal to you so much – ask yourself why that might be. Why does it not seem to work? Consider what you can learn from an event like that both to shape you as an empowering educationalist and to help you design a great interactive session for your fellow Becoming students.

Wednesday 5th March – in our session – we have organised a Music Improvisation session. Again, we want you to come and experience it – lose yourself in it – hopefully enjoy it… and also consider it as a model for YOUR #becomingeducational workshop.

Basically we want you (possibly in small groups) to declare an interest in designing and running a two-hour interactive workshop for your fellow students. We think these could build on the theme of Creativity for Learning – so you may want to run a Dance w/shop or a Drama one… You may want to run another Art session – or perhaps your creativity has a more practical/technical direction and you want us all to design, build and race Go-Karts… We really do not mind what the idea is as long as it is something that interests you – and you want it to interest us.

#rhizo14: The Community is the curriculum – and so are you

Here to inspire you is a little bit of thought and theory from #rhzo14 taken from this blog:


How do we teach ourselves into uselessness?
How do we empower people so they have the PERMISSION to learn without us?

With these final course questions, Dave Cormier challenges educators to further re-imagine their roles in learning and the nature of learning itself. Who holds power if we empower learners to deeply and critically learn? Power is distributed and exists in the strength of the community.

Rhizo14 has challenged us to cheat to learn if need be and to challenge the structures of power;  to create learning environments that enforce responsible independence; to encourage questioning  and to embrace the uncertainty of infinite goals; to question the canons of written texts (Books making us stupid) particularly in light of the participatory connectivity and immediacy offered by orality; to become the curriculum as a community; and finally, to empower learners to learn without us.

If the community is the curriculum and if knowledge exists in digital and human-connected networks and nodes, and if being is about becoming through the connections that we make, then distributed power strengthens us through participation and sharing and creation. Like the rhizome, growth extends unpredictably, and continues even if cut off from its original source.

As a teacher, I know I’ve consciously tried to create learning tasks that extend beyond my teaching and the classroom. That was more difficult before the Internet. When the notion was more that the teacher was the centre of learning and the centre of knowledge, dependence was created and enforced as a way of classroom management and teaching of authority and power. I think the gradual release of responsibility has different rates of release and requires our good judgement to know when to get out of the way.

After 25 years of teaching, there are things that I need to unlearn. In Cathy Davidson’s MOOC on the history and future of education, she talks about unlearning as “the ability to just take change… as a challenge we can meet.”

Changing our notions of knowledge and learning creates risk for both teachers and students. Jenny Mackness writes about the need for intellectual, practical, and “being” spaces in curriculum. How do we find a balance between open and closed spaces? Keith Hammon tell us that, “The problem with traditional education is that it makes almost no room for space. ” Afraj Gill argues that, “There’s a psychosocial dynamic of not questioning current practices of education.” In seeing the possibilities and potentialities in spaces, I like Keith’s soccer analogy:

…within the open space of the soccer pitch, almost any-thing can emerge, or happen. However, once the ball is played into that space and players engage the space, most of the possibilities that could have happened are eliminated. Now, the game closes, defines, that once open space, and potentialities along with power emerge. The location, trajectory, and pace of the ball and the arrangement, trajectories, and skills of the various players define the open space, closing off most of what had been possible in that space, and the potential takes over from the possible.

We know there are boundaries within the teaching profession, but there is much open space that we need to and can explore. Opening spaces for learners empowers them. Once on the field, the coach needs to let the players play.

Thank you, Dave for lighting the fire for us to gather around to find our bearings. I’ve really enjoyed the blogs and discussions around learning that have been part of the #rhizo14 community. This was my first MOOC (that wasn’t really a MOOC).

And finally, I’ll leave you with one of Crane’s wonderfully enigmatic poems to further encourage the active creation of uncertain learning spaces for communities of learners.

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never –
“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.
Stephen Crane


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