I think I have stumbled across a parallel that is worthy of note between the idea of rhizomatics and the Discovery 1 school. The idea of rhizomatics is briefly mentioned in a seminar I blogged about, and detailed more in some of Dave Cormier’s blog entries, starting with this introduction. The Discovery 1 school is a local experimental primary school I blogged about.
In a sentence, rhizomatics “describes theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation”. And Discovery 1 School focuses on letting children discover the knowledge that they are personally interested in.
So it seems to me that Discovery 1 children are operating in a very rhizomatic way – they are taught from their very first day to seek out information in many and varied ways, and integrate this into their own knowledge. Of course they need some help in the early years, but parents are encouraged to come to school with the child and assist them. They are also taught the associated skills that support this: choosing educatonal goals, planning how to acheive these goals (so essentially creating their own lesson plans), managing their time, recognising ‘blind spots’ in their knowledge and resolving them, and at the end of the topic, creating an output that will fairly represent the knowledge they have gained (their equivalent of assessment).
So what can we learn from this? The first thing that hits me is that rhizomatics does not have to be a digital process. Sure, it is made easier by using the internet, but it can equally work in a classroom of 10 year olds who enter and exit from knowledge via talking to people, observing or interviewing an expert, reading books, performing experiments or possibly using the internet.
In addition, at the end of the presentation, there was a discussion on how to apply rhizomatics in traditional teaching situations, especially with regard to curriculum and assessment. I beleive there is a lot to be learned from Discovery 1 School (who themselves have had to learn from the ground up over the last 5 years). Bear in mind I am not the expert on this (in fact, I can probably line up someone from Discovery 1 to attend an EdTechTalk – if someone is interested, let me know), but my second-hand knowledge would be as follows.
With regard to assessment, the student has to create one or more outputs by the end of the topic that will fairly represent the knowledge they have gained. These outputs can be in any form that does the job, so can be any or all of text, diagrams, photos, video, audio, multimedia, posters, paper mache or performance etc.
With regard to curriculum, the teacher (or parents) works with the child to ensure that all curriculum objectives are acheived within the topics of the student’s choice. Often, this is simply a suggestion that the student also looks at xyz as a part of their chosen topic (maybe if the topic is dinosaurs, the student is encouraged to calculate the fraction of various species’ life spans compared to a humans). Occassionally, when the student presents their learning goals to the teacher, the teacher may have to suggest that, for example, they have covered enough music topics recently and should think about something involving science, but generally this does not seem to be a problem as the students seem to naturally have diverse interests.
I am sure there is more that can be drawn from this comparison, but for now, real life becons.