Questions about rhizomatic learning

Jenny Mackness, Feb 06, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

At a certain point, perfectly good theories become nonsense. This may be that point. I am sympathetic with the list of questions Jenny Mackness poses to Keith Hamon about rhizomatic learning (a concept I'm increasingly questioning). For example: "I’m not sure that I would know how to distinguish a 'rhizomatic learner' from other learners." And "‘A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.’" Strictly speaking, this is false of rhizomes (unless you're talking of the specific connection between plant and plant, in which case, one wonders how it is different from any other connection (and wonder why it can't have a middle)). I've commented to Dave Cormier (who seems to have a better handle on this) about this in the past: a rhizome network is a mesh, which is good, but there's no openness, no diversity, not really even any autonomy. And you mix that in with (quite frankly) silly statements from Deleuze and Guattari (like: "‘State space is ‘striated’ or griddled") you get something that really begins to lack coherence. I've long complained of continental philosophers that when they don't understand something, they just make stuff up. There's too much of that in educational theory too.

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