Why, Hardly Any At All Dear

rhizo-enquirer
Just to prove you don’t need academic credentials nor superior intelligence to engage in Rhizo15, I submit the following headlines from the notorious tabloid “Rhizo Enquirer”

  • Doing Rhizomatic Learning the Right Way
  • How Rhizomatic Learning Isn’t as Bad as You Think
  • True Facts About Justin Bieber’s Love of Rhizomes
  • 19 Facts about Rhizomes the Government is Hiding
  • What the World Would be Like if Rhizo15 Didn’t Exist
  • Darth Vader’s Guide to Deleuze and Guattari
  • How Did Dave Cormier Become the Best? Find Out
  • The Evolution of Sarah Honeychurch
  • Why Scott Johnson is the 51st Shade of Grey
  • 7 Ideas You Can Steal from Kevin’s Comics
  • Why Our World Would End if Nomads Disappeared
  • 20 Podcasts about Betweenness Centralities
  • The 5 Worst Songs about Deterritorialization
  • How Not Knowing Rhizomatic Poetry Makes You a Rookie

That’s my answer to Dave Cormier’s questions for week 6:

What should an artifact of a rhizomatic event look like?
What can we leave behind to remind us of the people we were now? How can we tell stories to explain the rhizome?

Credits:
Autumm Caines for collaborating on the Portentous Rhizo15 slideshow with me – visit it and make your contribution
My wife Lois who sacrificed a Friday night to let me play with this
for her Community Manager’s Daily  link to the title generator
Portent’s Content Idea Generator – so much fun for so little effort – the engine that wrote all these headlines – see, I said it didn’t require intelligence, hardly any at all
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Who You Callin’ Invasive?

Two competing thoughts are vying for my attention as I belatedly address Week Five’s question about invasive species. Dave asks if, in promoting rhizomatic learning, we are trading one authority structure for another. If we are in-grown. If we are destructive.

"wall and kudzu" by Neil Smith on Flickr http://bit.ly/1FzQ1XX (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“wall and kudzu” by Neil Smith on Flickr http://bit.ly/1FzQ1XX
(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

My twin contentions are,
(A) that as proponents of Rhizomatic learning we are not doing harm,
(B) and anyhow, we were here first.

Regarding the first proposition:

  1. The Rhizome is a metaphor, not literally translated into learning practices by the ugly knotted roots of bishop’s weed or the choking weight of kudzu.
  2. We are reasonable, intelligent educators, not driven by biological imperative (Freud and male stereotypes notwithstanding) to insinuate our protuberances into every available crevice leaving no space or nutrients for contrarian ideas to thrive.
  3. Ourrhizomatic model of learning is manifested, not by a destructiveinvasiveness, but by the parallel processes of subterranean learning and a delightful “sudden” and unexpected manifestation of a skill beingutilized above the surface in a new space.
    Rhizome

    http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/WEEDS/ID/sedroots.html

    I was completely taken by one thing Dave Cormier said about his experiences in EdTechTalk with Jeff Lebow.  (not a direct quote – think I heard it in a live webinar) Dave said, after being involved that conversation over a period of months, he found himself able to do things he was not previously able to do, without having consciously decided to learn them.
    That encapsulates Rhizomatic Learning for me and has been my experience as well – granted, to a much more modest degree than what Dave manifests.
    Gerald Ardito replied to the Week 2 question about what we could measure or count, by referring to Stephen Downes.   Downes contends that we know when we have learned something when we are recognized by other practitioners in that field. I don’t know if it’s because they only hear me talking and don’t see how little I actually DO, but people at my college keep surprising me in the recognition they show for my innovations – and I learned it all indirectly/obliquely/rhizomatically through hanging out with all these great people online because they were fun and challenging, not because I had a particular learning objective. That’s invasive, but beneficial.

  4. OK, that got long-winded for a simple list (and I addressed several weeks of Rhizo 15 topics)
  5. P.S.Delightfully Sidetracked below

Second proposition – I’ll pretend this is also a list

  1. Rhizomatic learning was here first. It is the natural way to learn. It is organic.
  2. I’ve referred to my childhood experiences with Asparagus in a response to Autumm Caines’ post  The part of the garden where we planted our Asparagus crowns (rhoizomes) was home to a wild grass we called wire-grass – also a rhizome. I remember pulling up yard-long underground wire-grass runners in the softer areas of the patch where the neighbour’s sawdust pile (he built marvelous furniture) spilled over into our garden. No matter how many roots I pulled out, the grass always came back up. But then, no matter how many asparagus shoots we cut off to sell or eat, more also always sprang up from its roots. Even with child-labour, our family could barely keep down the native wire-grass to let the newcomer asparagus flourish. (invasive species aided by mercenaries?) My point is, the Rhizome was there before the cultured vegetable subjugated it for a profit.
  3. The truly invasive species that has infiltrated all spaces and strangles other learning initiatives is the structured, formalized, legislated educational system. (Apologies to Blake and Karen and Jackson, all my friends at the department of Education, Culture, and Employment – you are good people).
  4. There is a far greater danger of the established educational system strangling a novice rhizomatic learner than the other way around. It carries the crushing authoritative message of “that’s not the right way” and “that will never work“. It also has the power of money behind it.

P.S. Delightfully sidetracked – and return.
I thought I’d caught William Gibson channeling D&G in his final Blue Ant Trilogy novel “Zero History.” In ch 74 the character Milgrim compares the view on the penguin-drone controller interface on his iPhone to “a rectangular chip of London’s surface pried (up) … revealing a substrate of bright code” but then he realizes it’s the other way around.  The city must be the code that underlay the iPhone view because, “the territory wasn’t the map”. I looked up the quote and found it wasn’t D&G after all, but Alfred Korzybski in 1931 who coined the phrase, “The map is not the territory.”
That led me to this charming comic which had me giggling like a three-year-old for a time.

the map is not the territory

this is not a pipeBut I also found The Treachery of Images by René Magritte.  Underneath his very realistic painting of a pipe, he wrote “This is not a pipe“, which brought me full circle in my conviction about my first point. The rhizome is only a metaphor, or map, for the philosophy of learning which the Rhizo 15 community seeks to understand and promote. So, borrowing from Magritte, and reassured by Simon Ensor that the grammar is correct for my adaptation, there’s my trope at the top of the page. The metaphor is not the reality.

Story goes, when someone challenged Magritte that his painting was indeed a pipe, that his disclaimer was wrong, he suggested they try to put tobacco into it.

And just as a bonus, here’s another riff on Magritte and Korzybski

not just a facebook community

The community is people
Actor Network Theory notwithstanding

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Meandering

I’m always humbled when I think about the tremendous trust students show in enrolling in our adult education programs.  They place way more confidence in me than I have in my ability to fulfill that trust.

When Dave Cormier asks, “How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going?” it feels a lot like an itch I need to scratch.

Then he asks whether “learning subjectives” can help us with this question. I’ve had a broad-spectrum treatment of learning objectives.  What in Bloom’s name might “learning subjectives” look like, and how could they possibly be helpful? That sent me down this path in a quest for meaning (originally dictated as notes on my iPhone while taking a break from reading James S.A. Corey’s space opera.)

Learning objectives: intended learning outcomes
intended by whom?
the course, the curriculum, the instructor, the certification body,
Me?
Learning subjectives: could that be the unanticipated consequences of un-learning ?
where “un-learning” equals questioning what I thought I knew

subjectives framed

Hmmm,  maybe,

How about some
word association…
(Pssst – graphic on the left)

Ahh – not really.
Back up and try again.

Objective: the object which is in view, the purpose
Object: the person or thing acted upon, the receiver of the action
Learning objectives: what someone else wants to teach me

Subjective: of, or having to do with, the subject
Subject: the person or thing performing the action, the actor
Learning subjectives: what I actually learn, perhaps by determining to do so, perhaps incidentally or accidentally

Can Grammar help us find our way? (Or maybe Gramper?)

Objective case pronouns: me you him her it us them
Teach him, instruct her, drill them, punish me
Subjective case pronouns: I you he she it we they
He perceives, she practices, they explore, I want

Definitely some hints there, but there must be more to it

Objectives for Rhizo 15:
Write frequent, insightful, lucid, profound blog posts exploring connected facets of rhizomatic learning. Set up TweetDeck to follow as many conversation streams as will fit on my screen. Post frequently in Facebook, G+ and Twitter. Comment on and link to other people’s blog posts and take part in being a generally polite and contributing citizen of this learning community.

Subjectives for Rhizo 15:
Read what I have time to read.
Read what interests me.
Ignore some platforms completely.
Reply or comment when I just can’t resist the urge – and delete it.
Or just spout off if I find a humorous twist.
Occasionally spend an inordinate amount of my leisure time in a tortured attempt to voice something that struck me as profound, and then leave it unpublished.
Dash off a tongue-in-cheek blogpost because whimsy is where I am most comfortable when I am outclassed.

OK, that’s getting closer to home, but part of me cringes at the self-indulgent tone, even though I am the subject.

I suspect my “learning subjectives” will be revealed when I realize my practice and my ways of being have changed (improved he hopes) because of Rhizo15.  Not entirely possible to anticipate just where it will poke up a shoot.

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On Being a Learner

What’s the difference between taking a course and being a learner?

Adult-Learners

We often assume that everyone who attends school, at least an adult who chooses to do so willingly, goes there to learn. I’d like to point out that some people, especially adults, chose go to school because they want to take a course. Both are good and valid reasons to enroll in school; they might even overlap, but we get into all sorts of trouble, both as students and as educators, if we assume they are the same thing.  So here is my only-partially-tongue-in-cheek, not-totally-objective, and in-no-particular-order guide to help us figure out the difference.

If I am most concerned with getting the right answer, I am taking a course.
If I am not satisfied until I understand how the darn thing works, I am a learner.

If I want to know what I need to do to pass, I am taking a course.
If I get excited because something in class touches my “real” life, I am a learner.

If my motivation is to get the certificate, I am taking a course.
If my motivation is to become better at something I love doing, I am a learner.

If I attend classes because I can’t get an excused absence, I am taking a course.
If class is so interesting that I don’t want to miss anything, I am a learner.

If the best part of the day is going home to my family, I am human.
If you wondered what that has to do with anything, it’s just my whimsy intruding.

If I only spend time studying what’s assigned, I am taking a course.
If I get side-tracked investigating new ideas that aren’t directly related to assignments, I am probably a learner.

If I only discuss my studies with the instructor and others in my class, I am taking a course.
If I can’t shut up about what I’m studying, if I bring it up with my family and friends until they get tired of it, I am definitely a learner.

If the most important part of my writing is punctuation and grammar, I am taking a course.
If the most important thing in writing is communicating what’s on my mind, I am a learner.

If my biggest accomplishment is passing the test, I am taking a course.
If I can’t wait to put my knowledge into practice, I am a learner.

If the class is too easy for me, but it’s required in the program or job, I might just be taking a course.
If I just want to be in school even though the course content is too difficult for me, I still might be a learner.

If I am afraid to make a mistake, I am taking a course.
If I give myself the freedom to try-fail-try again, I am a learner.

If I lay awake at night worrying about my grade, I am taking a course.
If I lay awake grappling with the subject, I am a learner.

Credit goes to Aggie Brockman of the Northwest Territories Literacy Council who invited me to write a guest blog in honor of Adult Learner’s Week for their weekly newsletter.  Thanks Aggie for helping me realize that I am out of the habit of thoughtful writing. I spent several tortured hours trying to write profound paragraphs on theory that went nowhere before I came up with this list.   Interesting though, that I ended up back where I started, drawing inspiration from the opening lines of Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society*,

“Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance…to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.”

*Illich, I. 1971. Deschooling Society. New York: Harper & Row
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Loosely Tied

320px-Water-knot-webbing-loose-ABOK-296

loosely tied water knot

640px-Hydrogen-bonding-in-water-2D

another loose tie

The Connected Courses facilitators list reads like a Who’s Who of my favourite rabid connectivists.  How could I not dip in? Ever since PLENK2010 I’ve been hooked by this interaction with clever educators.  It changed the way I approach my job as an adult literacy and basic education instructor.  Fortunately for me, my superiors like the change. Adapting connected learning to the needs and capacity of ABE students is a challenge. I keep hoping to add others with an Adult Literacy focus to my PLN.

Essential Skills is on my plate as well this fall. I’ve enrolled in a for-credit course, so #ccourses will be a mix of lurking and more obvious contribution.  Guess which gets first priority when time is at a premium. At least I’ll keep in touch with some of the content but especially with the people and ideas at the forefront of this flavour of edu-innovation.

I registered weeks ago, but when I checked the action this first afternoon of the Pre-Course – aw Drat! Did I already miss the first live sessions? Now I’ll have to find time to watch the re-run on YouTube, or better yet on the embedded YouTube player on the pre-course page where I can catch up on reading at the same time.

That’s it for a first post.  Let’s see if I can connect my blog now using RSS and Tags.

 

images:
water knot author David J Fred, licenced CC-BY-SA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Water-knot-webbing-loose-ABOK-296.jpg
water molecule from Wikimedia Commons, public domain  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hydrogen-bonding-in-water-2D.png
 

 

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Apologetic Canadian Zombie

Well friends, here’s a zombie who has happily resolved his identity crisis.
I have come to terms with what I am.

I am a zombie.
I bite and devour people.
Sorry about that, but that’s the way it is.

I tried to deny it for a time. Didn’t think this should be my nature. Wanted to join the non-violent zombie coalition – thought that would make me more pure, would guarantee my redemption.

Would you be surprised to learn that living a lie brought me no joy? Suppressing my urges and trying to be a nice zombie was no fun at all. Oh, there were those who applauded my efforts, who shouted loudly to remain strong. I tried to convince myself that this lonely existence was the upright path. But I was miserable, envious of others I saw who lapsed.

Then with the dawning of a new day, I surrendered to the craving for gore. I slunk through the shadows lunging at prey. I bit openly. I feasted wantonly. One human, a fellow zombie who had received a cure, tried to shame me. She had endured hunger and found redemption. Her rebukes cut me. Had I surrendered too willingly after all? Why this unease just when I was having fun?

Like is slowly expanding cloud of gas, realization crept over me. I am Canadian. I am polite. I am apologetic even when others bump me.   No wonder I was conflicted playing the badass zombie. For the rest of the game it’s going to be, “Excuse me, may I #bite you? Sorry!” and, “Thank you; your flesh is most delicious.”  I am the polite, Apologetic Canadian Zombie.

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Peaceful River Bank

Notice:  All Zombies have been thoroughly exorcised from this riverbank.

Hacked: All Zombies and self-loathing have been thoroughly exorcised from this riverbank.

 

DSC_1696 (Large)

Hope Springs Eternal …

scoreboardWait.  I no longer have a human breast in which anything can spring.  I am a Zombie.

I “lost” at Twitter versus Zombies.  OK, in the spirit of the game, I did not really lose; I changed.  But I found myself unhappy with the change.  I had such great plans to avail myself of the antidote rule and then go on to create a restful, safe haven for fellow humans.

Since Twitter seems almost dead right now, I will amuse the non-Twitter human side of me and build that safezone all the same.

IMG_0961 (Large)You need to travel over water to get here.  Kayak, paddle-board, sail, or come with me. There’s an empty seat in my boat.

We travel north by north-west on Lac La Martre in Canada  until we enter the river where an abandoned human village once stood.

 

Two generations after a forest fire devoured the empty homes, only rusted stoves remain of the burned cabins. Faint outlines of rotted sill logs, now overgrown with moss, are barely discernible in the new growth of willows and alders.

DSC_1713 (Large)

 

DSC_1702 (Large) Descendants of the villagers return to this site annually to pay homage and to maintain the cemetery where their forbears are buried.

 

IMG_0683 (Large)

 

 

Ah yes, TvsZ-ers, there is peril nearby, but the elders had the foresight to establish their burial grounds across the river from their homes.

 

 

IMG_0702 (Large)

Just a short distance upriver, a healing spring flows into the river.  Here the visitors come to bathe in expectation of a cure from physical and emotional afflictions.

 

 

 

So this is the safe have I wanted to offer to humans seeking refuge from the devastating hordes on Twitter versus Zombies.  I wonder if I could deed this space to someone who is still human. – perhaps I can send them the text code and photo links so they could post it.

IMG_0679

 

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Conflicted Zombie

I am a troubled zombie.  Not supposed to have any thought, only cravings for human flesh, particularly brains.  Troubling something buried deep within me, is the question, Why does scorn, violence, and compulsion come so easily?   How can I be experiencing any cognitive dissonance when I have so little cognition left?  But a powerful inner voice that will not be silenced tells me that I belong on the side of light.  I value all that is light and goodness.  Why then, does writing such dark tweets comes so naturally.

This was to have been my Antidote post.  But my zombie mind could not retain the one essential detail of the rule – the 8:00 AM deadline.  I remembered it as 8PM.  Now mid- Sunday afternoon, enthusiastic to re-engage in Twitter versus Zombies, I find I am doomed to be a zombie for eternity – or the next rule change-whichever comes first.

And I did not intend to become a zombie in the first place.  OK, I admit, “After a night’s troubled sleep, I jump back into the fray and defy the loathsome horde.  A Pox upon all your undead houses!” was kind of asking for trouble.  But I had my defense all planned.  Before posting, I had my next tweet already copied into memory. I pasted, “I #dodge you, foul fiend, and leave a #picsafe pan of freshly sizzled bacon to distract other mindless #tvsZ zombies” as soon as the first was tweeted.  My downfall was that I had to attach an image and type the twitter handle of the first zombie who bit me.  (should have gone with a reply) With image attached I was at 152 characters, now had to quickly decide which derogatory adjectives to delete.  (should have realized that 22 chrs to spare wouldn’t cover a handle and link) Of course, during such a long delay I got a second bite, and my strategy went down in flames.  And here’s the kicker.  I had already planned out such a clever #safezone across the river from an old graveyard and downstream from a healing spring.

So here I am, stuck on the dark side.  Now, will my desire to engage win out over my revulsion at what I have become.  I see some #nvzc (non-violent zombie coalition) tweets.   Perhaps I can be a “vegetarian” zombie.  If Edward Cullen could do it, why not me?

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Test Getty Embed

Lisa Lane Diigo-ed The Verge article about Getty Images’s new free embed licence.
Here is the link to Getty’s page advertising the new service.  The embed code adds the appropriate credit – and will probably embed adverts and data collection in the future. Clicking the image takes you back to Getty’s site where you can purchase the image for commercial use.

I’m testing it here.  It appears I can edit the embed code to change the size of the image. No need to calculate the proportions too carefully, it doesn’t seem to distort no matter what you do.  Appears it takes the lowest value (width or height) and scales the image to that even if the other dimension is wildly out of range.

Original embed code is h=407 x w=507 pixels

Here’s the same image set to a carefully calculated 75% size of h=305 x w=380

Here it is set to h=200 x w=1200 – notice that it still stays perfectly proportioned

Oh, guess what.  I just discovered I could drag to resize the image.  Grab the placeholder by the corner handles; the code adjusts itself.  This one started as the default w=507 x h=407, but dragging  changed the values to a thumbnail-sized w=127 x h=100.  Kind of scrambles the image credits, though. Besides this looks smaller than 100 pixels high.

Hmmm, I wonder why WordPress changes the code so height comes before width, when Getty’s original has width first.

One drawback is that word-wrap is gone. So is the Left, Centre, Right image-placement option.  In a comment on The Verge article, “jomamma” said you could edit the WordPress CSS to bring back word-wrap.  Maybe.  It’s beyond me for now.

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Rhizomatic Orality – conversation

booksbooks is my most favouritest way of all to delightfully waste time – expecially “indulgent trash” (spies, mystery, & sci-fi).

The premise, Is Books Making Us Stupid? (from week 4 of #Rhizo14 ) “just hit my berserk button.” (to quote from Haley Campbell when she rightfully took great exception to my calling it “indulgent trash” in an unrelated blog post some time ago)

Here I was just concluding that I need to subject myself to more D&G, Skinner, Mezirow, Brookfield, Knowles, Papert, etc. to get a deeper grounding in learning theory and jargon. Seriously, YouTube is where it’s at after all? For most lectures, including TedTalks, I want a transcript to scan the point in a fraction of the time it takes me to listen. Shallow? I think of it as efficient. I confess though, listening to Dave Cormier’s verbal explorations has a lot more “pull”.

I’m now challenged to reflect on orality in my own life. Childhood. Farming & Gardening. Facts of Life. All oral. Learning the largely-unwritten Tlı̨chǫ language as an adult on the trapline and in hunting camps filled my meaning of the expressions with images, smells, and cold instead of equivalent marks on paper. I lost my frustration with Aboriginal legends when I finally laid aside my Euro-centric demand that every moral and lesson be explicated. Orality is flexible, adaptable, but to a print-oriented society, is also undependable with a whispering-down-the-lane kind of unreliability. Uncertainty in my worldview was characterized as weak, probably slippery and devious, therefore to be rejected. I’m getting over it, convinced in part by the tremendous harm done by some kinds of certainty.

Back to this week’s premise. Books require the same Rheingoldian (or should that be Postmanesque?) “crap detector” we apply to anything else. I think it is our undue reverence for the bound printed page, not books themselves that hinder rhizomatic exploration of learning. Some day I’ll have to write about my ambivalence toward textbooks and syllabi.

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