(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me

Hangout continued: reflections after-the-event


This is my way of continuing the conversation that started in y/day”‘s #rhizo14 hangout… It was the most “watchable” hangout because Dave brought people in to discuss (what a “hangout” usually is) in the main room, which was recorded and therefore viewable after-the-event.

The main really important points (to me) that came up, include
1. I joined this course because I wanted to think of ways of supporting others in thinking about designing their curricula in less traditional/rigid approaches than traditional instructional design. As several people said in the course, each of us as teachers have our own approaches to embracing uncertainty and helping our learners do it, but it is not easy to articulate this approach to others (as Sarah and others said), partly because it is v contextual and depends on one’s own personality and comfort; but partly also because talking about it, even if we do, sounds like nonsense to someone hearing it but who never experienced it; which leads to…

2. Dave’s hidden curriculum in #rhizo14 was for us to learn about rhizomatic learning by experiencing it. Well, that’s been my approach from the beginning (let’s not get into that again)… But is this a paradox? That what Dave thinks was his goal of the course, was also mine, therefore I had the “right” answer beforehand? No! First, because how I experience rhizomatic learning in the course, and how he imagines it, might be different. Also, because i learned a lot more in the course than just that… But this all leads me to my epiphany…

3. Bingo! If I want to convince others that rhizomatic learning and uncertainty are “the” or at least “a” way to approach learning, modeling (not in any perfect model capacity, but trying it out) is the key… This means when giving extended workshops to faculty on now to design their courses, to not over-structure the course and create conditions and space for uncertainty and rhizomatic connections and growth to occur. This seems really obvious to me now, but was not beforehand and is not that easy to apply in real life!

As Vanessa said, there is a paradox of the Greek who says “All Greeks are liars” (no offense to Greeks) in that if you believe him, he’s a liar, and if he’s a liar you shouldn’t believe him. Same goes for uncertainty. If i am the authority and tell others “certainty and authority are not to be believed”, then you should not believe me, since I am an authority making a dogmatic claim to certainty… That’s why saying it is of much less value than doing it (as Jolly was saying). Learners need to experience learning from uncertainty and the reduced need for authority and find themselves learning, in order to embrace these ideas and run with them. To take this learning and use it in life beyond formal edu.

Now, a few other random thoughts post-hangout:

That despite uncertainty and rhizomatic learning (which several ppl agree is the way things mostly “are”) we must not forget that there is some structure around in some form or other. Just because things can and do branch out of whatever structures are imposed or reflected, does not mean structure is not there (i cannot articulate this as well as Keith did, but i think they mentioned something Cath wrote earlier about seeing the arbors/trees between the rhizomes). This was a new way of looking at things: beforehand, we talked about how institutional structures restrict rhizomatic approaches… But another way of looking at it is to recognize the human need for structure within the realities of uncertainty and rhizomy (this sounds like the name of a gene hehe) and just be comfortable creating space for people to break away from the structure… So that structure provides some safety but does not restrict potential for growth… Hmmm

I also liked Dave’s statement (building on Keith’s thoughts) that education sometimes creates “certainty through scarcity“, when the reality has always been uncertainty, and that social media now allows us to deal with this abundance (am not explaining this well, just watch the middle part of the hangout! I should have done a vialogue but i don’t have time and blogging was faster)

Soooo I was extremely disappointed to have missed the hangout but this was a very watchable one and I feel like I was there (though we all know I would have tried to over talk it). Funny enough, i ended up watching it at 5am!!


Author: Maha Bali

Associate professor of practice, American University in Cairo

4 thoughts on “Hangout continued: reflections after-the-event

  1. Juve cat says miaow. I loved Keith’s point. I’m also a firm believer in learning through doing.

  2. Hi Maha! Thanks for summing up these points. It is always useful when people do this…

    I tried to tackle some of the themes that came up for me during the conversation yesterday (and also during previous weeks) here: http://arca.noblogs.org/archives/174

    There is a connection with Keith’s point about the rhizome *including* order rather than being against it.

  3. Pingback: What My Toddler Teaches Me About Uncertainty | Reflecting Allowed

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