So this week Dave asks if we can ‘Get rid of Dave’ – can we teach rhizomatically?
Or… “But what is the role of the facilitator/teacher/professor where we are using learning subjectives, where learning isn’t measured and where content is actually other people? What cultural concepts do we have that we can use as models? Do we need a new model?
How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically? Or, even… do we?”
When I was training to be a teacher in the late seventies/early eighties there were many movements resisting the top down power implicit in formal education. Some resisted all power of the teacher. Madness! I’d recently been a child and remembered what the unfettered child could do. I remembered Lord of the Flies!!
If the teacher did not ‘hold’ the classroom, surely the bully or bullies did – and that was not good for anyone. (I shudder to remember that teaching practice day when they all played football on top of the desks – with real a football.)
So – how do we develop autonomy, self-actualisation and all that good stuff, when as teacher you are in charge and in control?
Seed rhizomatic practice?
I bang on a lot ATM about our module – yes – this one: https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/ – so here it is – and here is #rhizo15!!
This year Tom and I co-taught a class of 60+ students for 30-weeks. What we attempted to do was build this cohort into friendship groups and then into communities of practice. What we wanted was that they/we bonded with each other – and that the students made friends with at least one other. We felt that the belonging and the bonding was really important in affective terms – you need a friend – but also to model the dialogic and social-constructivist nature of education.
It started with a Question
We started not with a ‘lecture’ on the what, why and how of the course – but by getting these strangers to decide on questions that they wanted answered. We followed this with several weeks of role play/simulations – where they had to problem-solve together – and present findings, together. We had topic mediated dialogue sessions and collaborative research projects and poster presentations. At no point did we have to run a session on ’How to succeed at group work’ – they were succeeding – in groups large and small. They knew each others’ names – and, throughvarious presentations, they developed knowledge of each other as people as well as fellow travellers on an interactive, dialogic journey.
By the end of the course we ceded three weeks completely for them to run as they pleased. Our wonderful students developed stop-frame animations – and taught us how to make our own; they developed a range of games for us to play and learn from; they made tee-shirts and posters of the affective dimensions of learning – and had us playing a range of ‘getting to know you’ games. In their sessions, they managed to engage and excite the last two students who we, despite all our years of experience and our best endeavours, had not managed to relax and draw into the real life of the class… (Sorry peeps!!)
Can you assess rhizomatically?
For the assignments: each student had to decide on a research project, undertake it and write a formal report. Each has to write an essay – but has the option of interpreting the word ‘essay’ – and some will produce visual versions. They also have to submit three portfolio items demonstrating their best learning – and we structured many projects into the course (cutting the reading list to do so) so that they had many opportunities to experiment and to play; to find their own metier – their own way of shining. We’re looking forward to the marking!
We like to think this is one way to teach rhizomatically – and we’d love it if some of our #becomingeducationalists joined in with this conversation to give their opinion.