A fractal view of rhizomatic education…

Quick Disclaimer:

I seem to be struggling with is putting the nib to the page or at least selecting the submit/publish button.  It must be because I find it different to join the conversation or worried about being wrong.  I hoping these blog posts will get better.

ImageAnyway, now for the blog post:

I’ve been reading and watching and thinking about this new term rhizomatic education.  This doesn’t seem to be a concept easy to get your head around.  For one, it is such a different model of traditional forms of education you can’t help but chew on the idea until it makes more sense.  I seriously must have read the section below of Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriclum a half dozen times.

“This is the new reality. Knowledge seekers in cutting-edge fields are increasingly finding that ongoing appraisal of new developments is most effectively achieved through the participatory and negotiated experience of rhizomatic community engagement. Through involvement in multiple communities where new information is being assimilated and tested, educators can begin to apprehend the moving target that is knowledge in the modern learning environment.”

It was amazing to me to think about knowledge as a path and a path of our own choosing.  And, if everyone is choosing his or her own path then how could there be any sort of continuity to knowledge.  Is there supposed to be standards and wholeness to what we know as a group of learners.  I couldn’t help but think this mode of learning must be a complete mess and completely out of control.  Then I remember a scientific concept from my freshmen year of college… chaos theory.  The chaos theory I remember was defined by patterns emerging from what seemed to be unpredictable events and in many cases absolutely beautiful when visualized.  Those visualizations are called fractals.  Now, I don’t know if this is what Dave Cormier was trying to explain in the article, but when I saw this video again it started to make more sense.  In this less than two-minute clip we follow the path of one person’s knowledge.  In the theory of rhizomatic education if another person were to enter this fractal we’d see a completely different path, however the patterns of knowledge would be the same.

3 thoughts on “A fractal view of rhizomatic education…

  1. Some nice thinking here – fractal education might be a great approach! fractals however are inherently anti-rhizomatic. They have very simple but strict rules with loads and loads of repetition. A rhizome is not predictable like a fractal nor should it form such a symmetric pattern – though i guess it could by chance.
    i like fractal education better than rhizomatic – its way less messy!

    • Thanks for the response Caleb because it’s so helpful to read someones reaction and you had a good one. You are right about fractals being simple and certainly rhizomatic education don’t seem to be simple from where I’m sitting. What I was trying to suggest was when people are smack dab in the middle of a rhizomatic model they may not be able to see the repetition. However, someone observing the process might see patterns. It’s kinda like flying from coast to coast. When we’re on the ground all we can see is the street we’re on, however from 35,000 feet we see the structure of the roads, farms, etc. Does that make sense? It was kinda a crazy thought.

      • Hi Tim

        it totally makes sense. i like the idea. if it was a true rhizome any pattern would be imagined rather than actual. Like when we see a face in the clouds. If it was a true pattern then it would only be caused randomly (and as such not of great use) or it would not be a rhizome – perhaps a fractal. I think we might be looking for patterns because the rhizome model isn’t really working, we want structure, stability and direction.

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