My MOOC experiences

conversations and learning in the digital world

Tilling the soil


Since we are talking about rhizomes I thought tillage is also important. Tillage is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. One of the advantages of tilling the soil is that tillage helps develop strong healthy roots with better air circulation.

I am reading through blog posts that have sprung up after I posted this on the rhizo14 group on Facebook:

I find it ironic that people talk about their qualifications and researches and their ability to read and understand critical theory when that is not the aim of this uncourse at all. As long as everyone “gets” the generic meaning of it, all is well and we progress as a community. How everyone reaches to the end is immaterial. If you get the theory without reading it, you have cheated brilliantly.

Furthermore, I would like to assert my independence and state that I am not an academic and yet wish to be part of this uncourse. Does that make me “Un-qualified” to take it up? If we are to question the very foundation of the education system and try to change it so as to include one and all in a whole big community, then it shouldn’t matter whether I am a phd or a college drop out, should it? This is how a rhizome breaks.

Perhaps that was my way of unsettling the soil to make it healthy again for unrestrained growth.

Did I do it on purpose? No. Did I wish to make jabs at privileged people? No. Did I project such an outbreak? No. Did I want to make people uncomfortable? Probably yes. Perhaps to make them think and take charge. It started a discussion between academics and non academics or as my frainger Ary calls them pragmatists and theorists. It shook things up – the rhizomes multiplied and divided. It made some of us to stop and take notice of our actions and behaviours as academics, non-academics, pragmatists, wanna be academics, recovering academics etc. It was an opening of sorts to make people stop and spend some time to self assess and self re-mediate.

Dave told us in the week 2 hangout that “for rhizomatic learning to work, people need to feel like they are empowered and in control of their objectives.  It’s not possible to tell someone to be independent.” He’s right, you cannot just make people empowered, you cannot hand them down their powers or tell them to be responsible. There can only be the right circumstances that make people feel empowered and responsible. You can only create such circumstances or situations (not exactly scaffolding) but something that makes them uncomfortable perhaps? so as to make them take notice of their actions and behaviour which will in turn start a process of self-introspection and self re-mediation.

Here’s another example from my personal life. I am an only child and both my parents worked. I was mostly left to my own devices and gained a lot of life experiences from being alone and not relying on my parents during that time. It made me independent in a way that I had to take some everyday decisions without consulting my parents (this was before the cell phone invention). Did my parents actively want to make me independent? Is that why they both worked and left me in the care of my grandparents? No. It was only the circumstances. It made me independent at a very young age.

We cannot ignore the hierarchies in the educational system or any other system for that matter. One way to feel independent or to assert your independence is to take charge and break out of the mould and you can only do that when you are uncomfortable or in a situation that demands you to stand out and voice your opinion.

Someone posted this in the g+ rhizo community

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”
— Steve Jobs

“Every successful movement throughout human history – whether political, religious or social – has been shaped and driven by a powerful narrative, one that invites participation by many and makes it clear that the outcome hinges on that participation.”
— John Hagel

If I try to connect the dots now I can see how this independence was enforced by my post on me and on others. It made people uncomfortable – some agreed with it, some choose to ignore it.  It fostered a whole new rhizomatic network with people linking it to feminism, victimization, cultural differences etc..

Does that achieve my goal for this week? Enforce independence? Take responsibility, self-assess and self remediate?? Yes….I think so! A small ripple…

13 thoughts on “Tilling the soil

  1. This, as an aside: I refuse to be on FB so I always find it intriguing when I realize that whole entire discussions/debates have unfolded outside of my field of vision. It’s pretty interesting. That said, I notice at times that there is this slow moving collision in some online spaces between the academic mindset (aka, grad students) and the reality mindset (aka, classroom teachers). In some spaces, the two mesh nicely. In others, not so much. Again, interesting to observe.
    Thanks for post what you posted there here.

  2. Jolly good work! To learn well we have to be prepared to lose. To lose our comfortable preconceptions, our familiar landmarks, our pride.

  3. Lovely, Maddie, love Ary’s description of theorists and pragmatists. Thank you for shaking us up.

  4. You certainly did shake us up Maddie and thanks for that. As to groupings of theorists and pragmatists in #rhizo14, I hope that reduces over time. I read about an education project in South Africa that was using rhizomatic thinking to help people with different knowledges to work together for change. Our project for change on #rhizo14 isn’t as focussed as that and maybe that makes it more of a challenge. As I get to read more of what people are saying, particularly on their blogs and comments, I can see respectful dialogue and I really feel that I am learning.

  5. Pingback: Rhizomatic learning: chaos, provocation and conflation #rhizo14 | Learningcreep

  6. In English, the idiom is “to call a spade a spade” which explicitly calls out something as it is; by its right name. The implication is not to lie about what something is and instead to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity, unpleasant or embarrassing nature.[1] In reading further, it appears that it was mistranslated back in the day from skafe to spathe (shovel), which I find particularly interesting given the title of your blog. As always, Maddie, you are direct and to the point. It served as learning for all of us. As Kevin points out, I really don’t like FB for MOOCs, so I only dropped in casually to the conversation when I saw you made a point. Thank you for your reflection, your metaphor, and for tilling the rhizomatic soil..

  7. Pingback: The Messiness of Rhizomatic Learning – Words Steal My Intent | Jenny Connected

  8. Pingback: Enforcing Independence Part 2 | Nomad War Machine

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  10. Pingback: Rhizomatic moments #rhizo14 | Jeff Merrell

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  12. Pingback: Enforcing Independence Part 2 | NomadWarMachine

  13. Pingback: Dimensions of power, knowledge and rhizomatic thinking – Frances Bell

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