I Know Not WTF: Some Shallow, Arboreal Learnage


I ain’t feelin’ it.  I am sure Dave, the founder of this feast,  would not condemn. Everyone has to respond in his or her own way.  But it ain’t just on #rhizo14. It is also  on #dlmooc, another MOOC.  I am trying to engage.  I am trying to share.  I am trying to give.  No dice.  No distinctive ‘click’ of the tumblers snicking into place. Or very little.  And who can I blame?  No one.  I am reminded of my failed attempts to learn Chinese. I just don’t get the tones and I really hesitate to write this post as some hyperbolic little boy commenting about the emperor and his clothing. I deeply and rhizomatically (as little as I understand that idea) respect and honor my teachers and fellows-in-MOOCs, but I don’t mind saying that I ain’t feelin’ it.

First, what do the adjectives ‘rhizomatic’ and ‘deep’ add to the abstract noun ‘learning’.  What distinguishes those pairs of words from my run-of-the-mill word, just ‘learning’. Alone. Are we parsing distinctions without differences? You tell me.These Europhilosophes don’t speak to me much.  Lost in the translation for my monolingual American mind? Likely.

Second, my hero Myles Horton famously argues as a community organizer (was he a rhizomatic learner or just a learner?) that we need to start in a simple place and from there you let it grow (is that learning or rhizomatic/deep learning?).  Most of what I see in myself looks like preening.  I have not yet found that simple space (G+, twitter, blogs, email, IRC, hangout, text)  so instead I flash my pitiful peacock plumery and cry out in the vainglorious hope someone will “plus” me or re-tweet me or comment on. Please notice me. Sad.


Third, as someone who has begun a hobby of growing bamboo, I can tell you that those rhizomes are very tough.  When I buy a new bamboo I will get out a saw and just rough cut it into  halves or quarters.  So sometimes the whole rhizomatic mess just needs an ax taken to the Gordian Knot.  Don’t worry.  The pieces do just fine. Will no one rid me of these execrable words? Mebbe rhizomatic learning is just the bundling together of power in a way we have all come to dread–the mob.  The mob is deeply rooted in community values dontcha know.  I just need to find the right mob.  One piece of advice I get from veteran bamboo-ers is to be careful where you plant.  Invasive is not really the right word for what happens when those corms take root.

Fourth,  like Mrs. Malaprop, I have discovered that I’ve been speaking dialogue and doing deep, rhizomatic learning my entire life. I think we all are doing this dance of independence and interdependence all the time. Annotating and sharing and texting and vining and coffee shopping and barn raising and living the full catastrophe– we already reinforce and remediate both our independent stance and  interdependent connections. In other words as a human being you are already deep and rooted.  We don’t need no steenking badges. Why are we inventing and defining these new terms?  To separate ourselves from the hoi polloi?  To show others that we have found the one true way? To turn our lot into a guild with guild language that identifies the true believers?  Questioning intent and motive is a black hole, a deep dark tunnel where Victory Charlie awaits.  I really think there is something there underground with the fungi and the roots, I just haven’t found it yet. And I am envious of those who are eating truffles while I am going without.

Fifth, I am participating, but I often don’t feel particularly ‘invited’.   Generally invited, but not particularly.   I am expectant but without the visitation.  The tea is steeping, but no one is dropping by.  I figure that I am just doing something wrong.  I don’t know how to give a tea party.  I am not wearing the correct membership ring or not wearing it correctly. I definitely don’t know the secret handshake and am stupid to the hidden lingo.  Maybe the invites got lost in the mail or the radio station forgot to turn on the transmitter.  Dead air.  That is what it feels like trying to come to terms with this concept. I feel like grist for someone else’s mill and not my own.a1874176815_2

Hey, so I guess I really am feeling it.  I feel the disconnections and gaps in the map and the anomie that comes from knowing not WTF.  Maybe I am the hateful character in the Randy Newman song, “I Just Want You To Hurt Like I Do” or maybe I’m one of the canaries in the coal mine. Singing and singing and singing.  Listen to Brother Solomon Burke sing it.  I think he understood and I hope you will, too.  And know that his anthem is about  connection and care and freedom.  Is that rhizomatic learning?  Yes, but I think I will just call it love.




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    o I’m glad I popped into your tent again to hear today’s improv… really enjoyed reading this, so well worded, amusing, critical, considered.. you aren’t disconnected though – I’m sure most of us have lived this experience at one time or another in this an other online ‘courses’. This one is certainly different, in that it’s just a conversation around a few questions, and an opportunity to hear what we all already think and know. I’m thinking of it in terms of a ‘festival’ metaphor rather than a rhizome, where all the performers are the patrons, who all get in for free… maybe a big jam session…. or a seminar with no set readings. I’m not anticipating any conceptual thresholds being crossed… it might be nothing but verbal chewing gum, but I have been finding it fascinating to see what we all do bring to a place like this, and to what extent ‘content’ of any course might be what we already have going on in our individual and collective memories… it provides a good experiment for considering what learning is taken to mean, and to me, as a language educator, whether the term means anything distinct from languaging… as a great man once said: “language is.. the process by which experience becomes knowledge” 🙂

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        My verbal gum of choice would have to be Beamon’s, not that damned Juicy Fruit.

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      It makes me smile to hear the phrase “popping into my tent” because it makes me think of camels and the phrase about the camel’s nose.

      Your point about being connected is well-taken. There are degrees of it to be sure, but I am seeking that connection that comes from the body, that is what I am seeking, my Valhalla. And of course lots of other humorous images crop up. I see dancing mycorrhiza with little mouths singing and extremities playing Seuss-like thrumbletoots and whimzizzers and hufferwupsies. A big ‘shroomy jam session (although mushroom jam does not sound all that tasty.)

      Crossing a threshhold is one of those astonishing metaphors that has, sadly, died and become a cliche. Perfectly handy as a cliche, but it has an agricultural origin as well. The threshhold keeps the grain in the threshing room as you beat hell out of the shocks of wheat or oats or barley. The threshold confines the idea. That is a good thing. Crossing the threshold means in this earlier sense that you are going to do something else. Shakers put great stock in the idea of brooms and thresholds. Mother Ann, the mater familias supreme and founder of the Shakers, felt the broom was the central symbol of Shaker life. You sweep every threshheld room of your soul clean and then you move on to the next, sweeping aside all that was extraneous and unneeded to the greater service to God and others. Maybe you don’t need to cross any thresholds at all.

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    I like your singing Tellio. You ask the question “Why are we inventing and defining these new terms? ” At the end of this MOOC I will be asking myself if the ideas helped me make more sense of learning. Even if the answer is no, I think might still think that I have learned something – I’ll see.
    Jenny Mackness asked me the other day if community is the right word but it does set up some expectations being right up there in the title of the MOOC. I also liked your example of bamboo-growing. Mine are in pots as I am still too scared to plant them in the garden. Do you think of your veteran bamboo-ers as a community or what? I am curious

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      I remember Bud Hunt having a great post about network vs. community and his contention that we use the word community when what we mean is a network, and the connotations are important. I, for one, would rather be part of a community, but I suspect I am guilty of Bud’s point on many occasions.

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        All I am seeing are Venn Diagrams. What I nightmare! Please, somebody, solve for X and get me out of here.

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        Maybe ‘web’ is a word that holds both network and community? Implies both natural and man-made connections?

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          I like this a lot. This week I worked with three different community groups and in two of them people suggested the idea of “community” and that labelling was not useful as it has been taken up and misused and in the end might mean who gets left out, whereas the ideas of webs and networks imply growing possibility. In the third group they didn’t say that, but I was aware throughout the day of who wasn’t present (the communities they were talking about). The one odd moment was that a guy started talking about microrhyzomatic structures and I got all excited and was trying to engage him and then he finally said I have no idea what you’re talking about – I’m interested in mushrooms). I also like your reference to the bamboo you are growing – I was out in the garden too, looking at rhizomes (irises) and thinking that the idea that they pop up anywhere is really a non-gardener’s conception – they pop up where they are most welcomed by the conditions. Well maybe not bamboo. What’s been important around to me around the conceptualisation of rhizomatic learning is to see that it names things that I can see happening in my networks, mostly for people who are not welcomed in other kids of learning environments. Anyway, thanks. And the badges thing is just bizarre.

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      Have you ever tried to imagine what a complete rhizomatic learning cycle might entail in your own life? A perfect one? An imperfect one? Yeah, I can’t do it. I think we might be much better off rather than trying to Platonize the concept we should approach it with stories. We can let others say, “Well, I am not sure how to define it, but I know it when I have seen this.” Then we can tell a story. We can compile all the stories and then begin to pull some patterns, non-exclusive, small “t” truth from the welter of narrative.
      Last summer I helped facilitate a cMOOC, #clmooc, and there are many stories in the rhizomatic vein I can mine from that. One of the stories was the transformation of the ‘course’ part of MOOC into ‘collaboration’.
      I view us bamboo-ers as a community in much the same way that I think of the knitting site, Ravelry. If there is a rhizomatic story that some academic researched needs to grab hold of, it is that site and those folks. Perhaps I think of those as communities because you can hold and feel and work with a common object – bamboo, and you can hold and feel and work with a common process–growing it. I don’t get the common object and process yet for rhizomatic learning yet. LIkely I am missing something, but I am the only one who can find it. It is my missing piece: http://youtu.be/Zb1VWwOK2nQ

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          I am indeed. This is one of the core books of our unschooling days along with Wind in the Willows and Freddie the Detective and The Hobbit and Richard Scarry and Jules Verne and…now that is rhizomatic as all get-out.

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        But never too disconnected (or whatever) to pass on a pun.

        I do read and enjoy your blog regularly but lately I have been dashing through white rabbit style, not stopping to think a bit about what to reply. I could maybe should save puns, Dorothy Parker and Lily Tomlin one liners to sprinkle across comments in passing. Then if anyone complains, the explanation could be as much fun as the pun…

        How about, “Reality is nothing but a collective hunch ” for collaboration and/or rhizo-ness?

        I’m still putting the pieces together too, some(many)times more disconnected than others. You’re definitely one of the pieces. CLMOOC too. I’ll be back…

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          Vanessa the pun-dit. I see you as our Banksy tagging us all with puns, groaners, shaggy dog stories, and knock knock jokes. Could you be our court fool, the only one allowed to speak truth to power without getting her head lopped?

          As for being a white rabbit all I can say is to quote Steven Wright, “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” I do believe I can lean on you when it comes to putting together this all white pieces, round puzzle called #rhizo14.

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            lean away — we can prop each other up — invite others leaners (did we lose an r somewhere) and purveyors of painful groaners

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        If your bamboo-ers are like Ravelry, they are OK and you will learn a lot – I love Ravelry even though I am not particularly active there. There is some research on Ravelry http://eprints.qut.edu.au/26455/1/26455.pdf – – the last sentence of that paper is “. However the open network
        system being employed in this site, where the walled garden is eschewed in favour of extensive linking and networking into other sites, would seem to enable a greater capacity for
        innovative design and technique to flourish and be capitalised upon outside the confines of
        the Ravelry site.”
        Contrast that with our experience as toilers in the vineyard that is the Facebook #rhizo14 group It’s pretty difficult to capitalize on the knowledge that we are sharing there except what we can remember. People are using google docs to capture stuff and recording it in other ways but it’s not exactly favouriting a Tweet, refinding it and linking to it if you know what I mean.
        I came across the paper for the last conference presentation I did before I retired – here’s the prezi http://prezi.com/zijoozxwtn_a/the-meaning-of-making-mixing-craft-and-industrial-processes-in-social-e-commerce/
        We hypothesised that Ravelry was much more friendly to craft businesses than Etsy or ebay – Etsy have since re-defined the meaning of ‘handmade’.

        BTW I loved that video.

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          Look at us with “Ravelry” this and FB that and bamboo wingwangdoo. You give me so much to grind. For example, you talk about generic tagging in Etsy in Prezi. Kind of appalling, but I am so lazy in my tagging, too. I tell my students to be specific, yet…I am astonished at my unintentional hypocrisy sometimes. There is a whole landfill of hypocrisy out there to be mined ;-), all mine, all mine.

          Ravelry reminds me of a hologram. They are not trying to create the universe. They are just trying to represent it, map a little bit of it inside itself. And it works, too.

          The quote has me really gnashing and eschewing all over myself. Just kidding. Question: is Ravelry rhizomatic? Can you create a rhizomat or do you have to grow it? I ask but don’t answer these questions. Just mining my own hypocrisy and ignorance. Don’t mind me. I would gladly pay you later for the price of some knowledge today. Signed, Wimpy.

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            I gave you my own and someone else’s academic analysis of Etsy and Ravelry. Now here is what I feel in my heart – the people who made Etsy want to sell it (and that includes ‘work’ of Etsyers) whereas the people who made Ravelry want it to somewhere where you have a good time, and can come and go as you please.
            I like looking at Etsy – I like being on Ravelry.

          2. //

            The phrase ‘looking at v being with’ in your comment is going to be rolling around in my head all day long as classes start today for my Spring term.

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    Wow, lots to think about in this post, loads to mull over (I always find it hard to comment immediately, it takes time for my mind to work out what I want to say). One quick thing though: you ask:

    First, what do the adjectives ‘rhizomatic’ and ‘deep’ add to the abstract noun ‘learning’. What distinguishes those pairs of words from my run-of-the-mill word, just ‘learning’. Alone. Are we parsing distinctions without differences? You tell me.

    Well, for me they and their contraries of “arborescent” and “shallow” distinguish two types of learning/learner: the student who just takes in enough to pass an assignment/exam but never internalises the knowledge or makes connections to other things they know, and the student who does internalise the knowledge and makes the effort to map new knowledge onto their existing web of beliefs. I find that rhizomatic/arborescent are metaphors that speak to me, I also like (maybe even more than these) Anna Sfard’s two metaphors of knowledge participation and acquisition: http://www.colorado.edu/physics/phys4810/phys4810_fa08/4810_readings/Sfard.pdf

    I do think that there are distinct types of learner behaviour being identified here and I believe that, as an educator, I serve my students best when I design activities appropriately with these distinctions in mind.

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      Thanks for telling me. One of the subjects that I am always looking at and always failing at understanding is how learning emerges–in myself, in those closest to me, and rippling ever out. Discriminating, categorizing, and otherwise defining is always helpful, but at some point those tools flip over, flop around and give it up. They are good fertilizer, but they don’t take you all the way to the fruit, the learning. Learning is felt for me and since I don’t really buy into the learning styles kool-aid I just assume it is ‘felt’ for others as well. That is why I said what I said to introduce the post.

      That embodied knowing is easy when you are actually doing something with your body. For example, my fine motor understanding is better in my left hand than my right although I am right handed. I know this because as a chimney sweep I often had to pull out cotter pins from fireplace dampers without being able to see them. I could not do it with my right hand, but it was “Bob’s yer uncle” with the left. Something to do with right brain and imaginative function and the corpus collosum no doubt, but that analysis serves no purpose in getting the job done. It was my body (and I include the mind with the body, go to hell, Descartes) that ‘knew’ it and could act on that knowing.
      I have the same experience with helping untangle lambs in the birth canal. It is not seen or even visualized but imagined in a ‘felt’ way. The words really are execrable.

      And what I want is that same ‘felt-ness’, integrated and whole, with rhizomatic learning. I want to edge up to knowing what it means and then I want to cross over into knowing how it feels. Otherwise, for me, it is the folly most of us experience in learning–in one ear and out t’other.

      I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to get closer to the feel of this concept. Thanks for that gift.

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        I love this line. It resonated with me: “I want to edge up to knowing what it means and then I want to cross over into knowing how it feels. ”
        Me, too.

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          You most certainly get that from being a musician and a dad and a teacher. One of my main points is that we already are rhizomatic. So…how does the word help us become more so? And do we even want that if all it means is no thresholds, no boundaries, and the promise of the Borg? I have always been a bit paranoid about how there is a fine line between community and a mob. Too much Eric Hoffer in my formative years I fear.

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    ” And know that his anthem is about connection and care and freedom. Is that rhizomatic learning? Yes, but I think I will just call it love.”
    and I might call it “life”. We are all lifelong learners of varying degrees. The compulsion to find a new term for living our lives and continuing to learn and build on each others’ discoveries in order to make our own tends to obfuscate the obvious.

    I am especially delighted to read your writing, ad as they say of Meryl Streep … she can make the phone book seem interesting, I would posit that your thinking/writing makes learning sound even more interesting than the terminology might indicate. Thank you.

    I might add that I am a recalcitrant with the “argot” of any arena, as it excludes too many “others”. in order to communicate with those who often guide the disciplines, we need to find a way to communicate on their “wave lengths” in order to effect any impact.

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      Guild talk, argots, patois–all lingo of the tribe. Problem is that most of us are trying to bring learners into a new tribe so we have to learn to translate from many different languages.

      I appreciate the phone book compliment and it made me think in passing about how it allows us to get a feel for the whole, something I find distinctly lacking as I flip through online searches. Old school, non-virtual phonebooks have a heft to them and a sense of the whole. This is the whole community of folks living in my local calling area. When I owned my own chimney cleaning biz, I rarely worked outside of that community. In a way it was just another way of embodying the world I lived in. So much of what passes for our rhizomatic phone book (twitter, G+, FB, blogs) does not have that same heft. And that heft, that haptic connection of ideas and reality, is what I am wanting but not having, what I am sharing in my post. Perhaps the generous posts here are a way to fatten up the phone directory and give me that ‘hefty’ feeling. Thanks for dropping by. I am happy to and will reciprocate. I know for damn sure that this bridging and bonding is exactly some of what rhizomatic learning is.

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    I’m not sure what I can add to this space but I guess that won’t stop me from coming into the conversation, Terry. (you know me well enough to know that, if nothing else, is true)
    I can’t say I feel exactly as you are feeling, but there is a slight disconnect going on somewhere with me, too. I thought it was because I had too many toes dipped into too many waters. And it may just be that.
    But part of me, as I read your post and listen to Solomon sing in my ears, thinks back to what we did for clmooc and how intentional we were about inviting people to play, about how we were purposeful in making everyone feel part of the conversation, and how difficult that was for us to do as a team of facilitators. And, yet, it set the tone for everything, from the very start. The space itself developed a voice.
    It’s prob too early for a voice to emerge in dlmooc (or perhaps the multitudes of affiliations make it seem so disparate — our clmooc at least had NWP ethos at the core) and Dave seems to guiding us for rhizo14 with provocative questions, but it’s becoming clearer to me why so many people don’t keep with moocs. Sustaining energy over time is difficult — for facilitators and for participants. You lose a thread and suddenly, you’re outside the circle, staring in.
    Thanks for sharing tea and next time, I’ll bring the truffles. (the chocolate kind) Ramble on! Ramble on!
    Your friend across the spaces,

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      And that is exactly what I mean. It is in telling the stories of best connection and, in our cases, it is in the living of the stories ( I like to call them sorties) that we come as the Shaker hymn says, ‘to where we ought to be’. I agree that there has to be something shared deeply and that means for me, felt, something that is at core non-verbal. How that happened in clmooc is a mystery and in our case what we created included many folks in the circle. We did not by making provocative questions, but by living through them together. I sometimes feel like this is a class and that the provocative questions Dave asks are like a mill for which I am the grist. I never felt that way with clmooc. And it is all about ‘feel’ for me. And truffles and tea or maybe a good Ethiopian Yergecheffe. Yum.

      Thanks for stopping by. I think you are a master of knowing when to pick up the thread of melody before the riff falls away. I am not. I really do depend on the sustaining energy of my band to keep me returning to the song. Thanks.

      BTW, have you ever seen “the Lick”? I suspect you have, but it is fun and is a metaphor for the larger rhizome in music: http://youtu.be/krDxhnaKD7Q

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          Talk about having fun, these guys look to be dangerous to be around. Sort of like you and Dave and all these fine comment mongers. Love it.

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    Hey Terry (and Kevin), i haven’t had time to read ALL the comments on this thread, but I thought i would comment on a couple of things:
    1. I think i agree with you, Terry, that learning is probably already rhizomatic, but current formal educational contexts do not treat it as such. I once told a colleague thatALL learning is learner-centered, but not all TEACHING is learner-centered… And so for me this course is about how to facilitate rhizomatic learning (but that it already occurs – so how do we encourage and nurture it? Frances would like us to not limit ourselves to formal edu contexts and she is right; but since my own context is formal, i find it important to find ways to encourage rhizo within or despite structures)

    2. I did not know you before rhizo, though i knew Kevin indirectly via readmake… But i did feel your presence in the rhizo community (though maybe u disappeared a bit? But u were there as a key person in this course, for me at least

    3. It is possible that someone like me engaging completely in a non-Coursera MOOC for the first time might have much more energy for this than some ppl who have been doing it for many years… Maybe everything is new to me, but not for everyone else (though i am seeing a lot of ppl who are oldies in cMOOCs engaging as well, i think some of them are engaging differently, almost as co-facilitators with Dave?)

    Ummm where am i going with this? Not sure, but i guess… There could be lots of different reasons someone might “not be feeling it” in a MOOC or not feeling central to a community (am not sure if you’re saying that, but i am thinking of marginality vs centrality)… And i am now thinking of this as something worth researching (there are discussions on fb about studying the culture of community in MOOCs and some of us are interested in how each of us is experiencing community… And sometimes those experiences are not ones of feeling oneself as part of it, but as being outside looking in… Or as feeling uninterested, or… Anything else…

    What scares me now, though, is thinking about this in my regular teaching and how people feel sometimes included/excluded. Yikes. Would hate someone to feel that way in f2f… Do we have more resources to encourage community f2f? What about the person who keeps missing class, or has a big personal problem at home so they don’t or can’t engage while in class?

    Have u ever taught a class while a really big problem was going on in ur personal life? Am sure many of us have. As teacher, i zone out, but as a learner, i might not be compelled to do so.,.

    I am rambling so will stop. Bonnie Stewart thinks she wrote the response to ur blog post 2.5 years ago…
    Haven’t read it yet, but here it is http://theory.cribchronicles.com/2011/11/09/the-rhizomatic-learning-lens-what-rhizomes-are-good-for/

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      Time traveling blog response written before the post was written? Cool … another good band name (Time Travel Blog Response). I’m heading over to Bonnie’s blog now. This journey is taking me all over the place today. Another band name: Terry’s Rhizomatic Doubt.

      Eh .. I’m having trouble with Bonnie’s link. Time to take a Google Detour.

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      1. I want us all to make sorties into our own worlds and bring back stories to share. Formal/informal, matters not. One of my favorite poets is Theodore Roethke and on of my favorite lines is: Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.

      2. It is good to be needed, but I feel like a vampire sometimes to be so needy. So I vow to give more blood than I take.

      3. I love the elllipses and the doubt and the searching for answers for me. So generous. And then the tilt toward learners and students and that lot. Empathic and kind to the core. I have taught a course while I have been in conflict. I have been a learner in that scene as well. Bless your rambles and your gambles. I’m all in, I fear.

      4. Bonnie’s post does inform better that I the nature of the beast. I was driven to re-read the last Chapter of Voltaire’s Candide for some reason. I finish her post and plucked it off the shelf. Voltaire banishes closure and happily ever afters. Reminds me of the tragicomic binary that is farm life: you’ll do anything to bring the exquisite lambs into the world, then you break you back and heart in raising them for market. This is what Candide discovers in the end. I want to be Candide, but I am not.

      Firstly, my wife is the opposite of his. Elaine is kind and beautiful and supportive. It goes without saying that I am not worthy. Candide’s Cunegonde is sour and ugly and failed.

      Second, I am more Pangloss than Candide. Pedant. Saying something longways around the barn rather that straight.
      I am a hypocrite in that I what I ought to do as regards learning yet I do not. We do not live in the best of all possible worlds. In the book, the dervish slams the door in Pangloss’s face but not before he says, “Hold your tongue.”

      Third, because I can’t hold my tongue and insist upon carrying on such sweet discourse instead of cultivating my garden (for that is where the roots lay, growing and seeking cultivation) I cannot become Candide. Yet…part of me keeps on, part of me returns to the roots of connection–in the classroom, in the home, on the farm, and where I live online. And I cultivate my garden. I STFU and cultivate my garden. These comments are my way of cultivating. Thanks for connecting.

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    Tent, tea party, wolf pack. It is all about the connection. And you Terry, just in this post alone, have given food for thought for the next week for all of us who have stopped by. You have a gift for writing and sharing your ideas. Perhaps your tribe will find you, and you can stop looking. But, please, stay with #rhizo14 because I just love your posts.

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      You are too damned kind. I feel like my tribe has found me and I am finding them. Tatoo on foot: Find your Tribe. Ima gonna. Of course, I will stay. You stay, too. Thanks for connecting. I can’t be grateful enough in words so I will be so in deed. You’ll see and if you don’t call me out.

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    Terry… did you just say that you use the word ‘sorties’ for living story. Why do we need these new words? Aren’t they just stories? 🙂

    Jokes aside, it sounds like we have a style conflict. The questions are purposefully unclear to give room for people to talk about different experiences they have. I constantly struggle with questions that lead people to the stories and questions that I have rather than the ones that they have.

    As is certainly demonstrated here… your words have a strong part to play in having others think about where they are at. It sounds like your CLMOOC experience was an excellent one. As you were the facilitator of that MOOC, it might be too much of an expectation to find yourself as invested in this one.

    Finally, you’re looking dead into the middle of my own shortcomings. When I look at the facilitators and advisors for your CL MOOC http://blog.nwp.org/clmooc/about/ (besides a few old friends 🙂 ) you’ve got 7 facilitators, 9 advisors, the NWP brand and super nice graphical representations of the work you’re looking to engage in. I have maybe 10 hours a week tops i can squeeze into this course. You might argue that one shouldn’t engage in the activity is one doesn’t have the time… you might be right. I worry that I’m not giving people enough of the things that they need. And, frankly, the rhizome is exactly the kind of living story for me that you think it should be. As a living story, I can’t provide much more than my feelings about it and the 30 or so blog posts I’ve already written. That’s all of the story I know. My biggest hope for this course is that I’ll hear more of the story from you all.

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      I never could resist a pun. Character flaw. Not my only flaw. I think you released another one of mine when you invited us to explore ‘enforced independence’. I think I took you too seriously and started channeling myself as a teenager. Never a good thing.

      Style conflict? I love your style. It is your fearlessness and honesty that gave me the courage to be honest myself. And when I do that I am afraid that you get the full catastophe that is me. What that means is that I am projecting all the happy horror that is me trying to come to terms with my own teaching and learning hypocrisy. Your questions frighten me. My pushback (and the style conflict) arise from that.

      CLMOOC was one of the first spaces that I did not feel like a hypocrite. Having met you in Arlington in December, I was pretty sure that #rhizo14 would be another. I just knew that if I played in the fields with my new found friends all would be perfectly fine. Turns out my first grade teacher, Sister Mary Celeste was right when she said, “Terry needs to learn to play better with others.” Too true, another character flaw.

      I really am not getting it. I want something I know is there and which it is abundantly clear eludes me. I have not really considered this from your side, not empathized with the fact that you are on the edge with this. You have made yourself vulnerable in ways that every teacher fears yet knows is the only way to ante up in the learning game. Mine is not a critique of you, but a yowl of pain that you are drawing me up next to you in this scary rhizo choir. And I bloody well sing like drunken banshee.

      Of course, I am grateful ;-). If someone criticized you to me, well, they would have a problem with me, too. Yet what I wrote was only my side of the story. As someone who has done some cMOOC facilitation I should have known better. I’m only gald you didn’t see the first three drafts. This post is hyperbolic, so overextended and over the top I feel badly that it in any way reflects on your efforts. But what I am trying to say in my happy-go-lucky inchoate way is that I sense that there is something to be got. I just don’t get it. I think that’s what happens when you invite Socrates into your kitchen. He pisses you off. He comes off as superior and knowing and why the hell doesn’t he just give you the effing answer or at least tell you how you can get that “A”. But the gadfly never will, nor should he.

      I do get that you are the founder of the feast and that you only have so many resources. I probably should have been more grateful, but Sister Mary Celeste’s iron analysis of six year old Terry dogs me ever on. I am a petulant, selfish child. Guilty. I speak my penance and know in my heart that those sins will likely rise again into the confessional.

      I would never tell you how to spend your precious time. Hell, you are doing just like I do. Tossing bread on the water. How disappointing that it comes back to you full of vinegar and mold. You are not wasting your time, you are just faced with that kid in the back of the room with sleeve tats, a black watch cap, and a baleful eye like a chicken eyeing a beetle. Not a happy prospect. You should worry, but not before you realize that the dude in the back of the room will be with you from start to finish. Because you have anted up, he will stick with you even though he never gets it. The game is worth the candle. Light it up and let’s play. It is never too late to learn to make nice with others. Anyone up for a game of mumbly peg.

      P.S. If you are expecting me to read all 30 of your posts, you are clinically and rhizomatically crazy.
      P.P.S. CLMOOC worked mostly because of the great work of my co-facilitators and the folks at NWP (Christina Cantrill, Paul Oh, and Luke Hokama and Jordan Lusink and….). They could turn a phone book into a mystical learning experience. They don’t need no steenking visualizations. Just standing by my tribe just like I will stand by your work, too, even if I don’t understand it.

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    Am having trouble with Bonnie’s blog too, must be getting too many hits or something!

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    And Terry, am wondering how ur feeling today after all these comments! Not about rhizo, but in general?

    Btw, U can ignore Dave’s prompts and connect on other levels as some of us have (well i don’t ignore Dave coz i like his stuff, but i do shoot off a lot). Do u know what i mean? I take Dave’s prompts as sthg to support those who need some structure, but there is nothing stopping other threads

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      Spoken like a reasonable person. I have had so much unreasonable happen in my life that forget that Dave never ever said it was ‘my way or the highway’.

      How do I feel? Pretty overwhelmed. I feel both lighter and heavier. I feel lighter in that I sense shared burden, that I am not alone. The frightened child in me thanks all of you.
      I feel heavier, too. Another burden has landed in my pack. I need to work toward ‘getting it ‘even though I may never. Having faith in those around you even though you have little of your own–that does not feel like a burden. That is a gift from you. But it is not unconditional. I am obliged not to retreat, not to stop asking foolish questions, not to keep apologizing for my own ignorance. That feels pretty heavy and it would be if I was shouldering it alone. We all need to take on some more of Dave’s burden. The hardest words to say and mean are these; we are all in this together. That is a social contract.

      How does that make you feel?

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        Hey Terry

        I have been thinkig exactly that! That we should all take some of Dave’s burden and a recent post by Jaap reminded me of how some folks here already do some facilitator roles naturally.

        I don’t know that there is something particular to “get”. Is it possible u had a great CLMOOC experience and wish to replicate a particular feeling, have particular expectations, and those r standing in ur way? I don’t presume to know. I would like to explore it further and more deeply. I have recently disengaged from another MOOC because this rhizo thing is so much better but my reasons for that are clearer than yours.
        But i am sending you lots of love from here (i know ur feeling that, hehe)

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          I am quite sure you are right about several things and thinks here:

          Dave has suggested in his Google Form that he might shorten the course to four weeks. I wrote back that if he needed to do that perhaps we could go ‘headless’ like ds106 did this past fall.
          Jaap is right. Some folks are natural facilitators. And facilitation has a lot of faces.
          It is entirely possible that I am trying to get the same feeling from #rhizo14 as I was from #clmooc. Dang, I wish I had realized that earlier. I sort of make that point in my zeega that I am already home so it is delicious that you bring me back to that. The better question for me is this: what did I have a right to expect from #rhizo14? Is it OK and even necessary to have unreasonable expectations? I do this in my classroom. It always leaves me with teacher’s remorse by semester’s end. Letting come. To allow learning to emerge. I lack that skill. I am hoping that I can get some insights into that before we are all through.
          I do feel the love and the kindness for a nearly total stranger. Perhaps we could look at potlatch cultures and explore how giving is baked into their cultures. I feel like I have been given a lot over the last few days. Have I said how grateful I am? I am.

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    Just making sure to drop for some teas. I often feel on the fringes of communities so that resonated with me. I’ll be not quite fitting in and utterly baffled as to why. In some cases after many years of trying I drift. Other times something finally clicks and I realize I am home. But I don’t know the algorithm for it. If I did I would write a book.

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      That is damned apt and you could write a book about that ;-). I love the word ‘resonate’ and “fringe’ and ‘fitting in’ and ‘drift’ and ‘clicks’. And the image of a door, a home at the end of the journey. Last, the foreign interloper–algorithm, a word I love/hate. I suspect you are writing the book and that this poem masquerading as a comment has caught you out. Thank you. Another whistler in the dark. Soon, an army. But a spot of lemon grass right now before we march on, yes?

      And while you are sipping watch this, a collaboration inspired by your poem/comment: http://zeega.com/161516

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    “I think I will just call it love.”
    A just piece.
    Thank you.

    1. // Reply

      No, thanks to you. And thanks for inspiring me to work with zeega more. Here’s the same one I mentioned in Danielle’s comment. It has some aikido refs in it. In fact the whole thing has a whole lot of the letting go that I have always imagined is part of aikido: http://zeega.com/161516

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    ‘as if’ (as my daughter is won’t to say) this isn’t the best thread I’ve evva read ;). ..

    the poetics of comment…. there’s another name for a band eh?

    And as I go away to avoid my thesis for another day (what are you all doing to me?!) and pull some threads together to repad my nest, which isn’t up a tree but in a knowmad’s tent, the word that comes to my mind, because it never leaves, is language…. all this, all the disconnection, reconnection, learning, feeling, identity conflict, style, embodiment and disembodiment going on all over the place here – nothing but… and I love what it does to us, the pain and most especially the pleasure…

    we went to see The Book Thief the other day, my young teenage girl and I, and yay, she was so moved I think she might finally have got it, and want to become a reader and writer … just like all us, jamming away on written words, improvising on a theme, because we want to

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      I feel the ghost of tumblers clicking in a lock, faint snicks. Just turn it a little more….got it.

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