Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rhizomatic Knowledge initial thoughts

This week's topic in ChangeMOOC is brought to us by Dave Cormier and the topic is Rhizomatic knowledge, rhizome coming from the Greek word for "root." (OK, that's my last "big fat Greek wedding" moment for this blog post :-)  )

Dave tells us that the idea comes from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in their book "a thousand plateaus" and the idea, at least according to Deleuze and Guattari is that in a rhizome "ideas are multiple, interconnected and self-replicating. A rhizome has no beginning or end… like the learning process."

It's quite an interesting epistemological view of knowledge and I can see how ideas are off-shoots of others thoughts and idea. We see this every day in sayings like "going off on a tangent or the infamous "six degrees to..." game. Everything is connected (which goes nicely with my previous blog post).

Looking at Rhizomatic knowledge from a literal perspective, there may be no end (since roots do continue to grow both around and through obstacles) but they DO have a beginning, so there is a start. Perhaps my view is a bit limited, since I am only considering one plant. If I were to consider a lot of plants, there would be many possible beginnings (let's call these beginnings "disciplines"), and eventually all those roots will meet underneath the earth, and some root systems will cross paths with other root systems more frequently than others.

It's interesting that Dave asks us to take a look at what we are doing and see if our practice or experience correlates to how he explains knowledge. I think the mindmap that I created for my previous blog post on connecting and weaving knowledge fits really nicely in here. I think that the "one plant" metaphor doesn't work well with what I created, but the multiple plant (or perhaps "forest" metaphor) works much better since my interests and knowledge grew out from each program and connected and weaver with the roots from other faces of my own learning.

The one open question I have is this: do we embrace the wave? do we embrace the tangents that we go off or do we try to look at the other side of things (the top of the plant, not the roots) and try to prune and mold the tree like a bonsai?  Of course the answer is "it depends" which is why it's an open ended question :-)
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