Rhyzomatic Learning. Is learning predictable?

I am working on the design for some new English Conversation and Business English courses I will start in March. Here I am, in front of my computer and surrounded by papers and notebooks, crayons, sticky notes, coffee and like 8 tabs opened on my browser.

Can I predict what we will learn? What if each learners learns something (a bit) different? OK, a list of topics will help. How can predict what will emerge in class? Moments of Dogme can help.

I feel I am in front of this white canvas, I go back to read Dave Cormier’s blog post about Rhizomatic learning. Why we teach.

I see I posted a comment on his blog post, which I will try to summarize below.

Let’s start by the end of my comment:
If I got everything wrong, please let me know. I am messy but not lazy,

Thanks Dave

I have been following Dave’s research on Rhizomatic Learning after #ETMOOC, and I find this metaphor powerful, I wonder if it is because it suits my learning style and therefore my teaching process.

I tend to be “messy” when learning and admittedly sometimes when teaching too. Note: messy, curious and a questioner.

Last year I encouraged my learners to create their own e-books, I teach one to one and am a freelancer, not following any textbook.

Our first challenge was the Google docs we use to collect students productions and tasks, were so messy (brutal honesty) it took us so long to edit and put some kind of order that some learners gave up. They simply got demotivated, though not frustrated. Maybe they were just lazy?

Trying to understand the “mess” led me back to the Rhizome metaphor. Why do we jump from one thing to the other, and go backward and forward in our learning journey?

This whole reflection process helped me understand

1. Unplanned emergent needs, curiosity triggered by certain topics, questions that came up while debating or discussing different topics  ended up creating what I refer to as “mess” 

2. Editing our work turned out to be a whole new project, somehow an unintentional process of self and shared assessment. My students were not only trying to follow and find a logical thread to put their productions together but as they had produced some material at the beginning of the year, learning had happened, their use of English as a second language had evolved,  and they wanted to re consider every piece of what they had written.

3. It has been an amazing adventure, though there was a moment I thought that we were facing complete chaos and felt that I might have led them to failure.

Dave is always there to help. He answered:

WOW! That’s some kind of blog comment. The challenges you are talking about here are very very similar to the ones that I have in my own classes. My students are accustomed to having structure imposed upon them, and don’t always react well to having to impose their own structure. 

Have you seen my learning contract? Might that help as a model? I would love to use your comment as a topic in the Rhizomatic learning ‘course’ we are running in January. If you haven’t signed up you should jump in!

I did jump in and signed up.

Disorder is not the same as chaos. However I still believe learning can turn chaotic at times, there comes the need to act!

I started by brainstorming ideas for my Business classes. It looks far from disorder and chaos.The creative part of the process is about to start …