Wednesday, May 20, 2015

#Rhizo15 / Benchmarks in the Study of "Nomadology"

It is strange being a writer. If you are an academic you have very specific points to start and stop. You have first day of the semester, you midterm, you have finals, and then it is over. Sometimes you have other benchmarks like submission of your project or thesis or senior presentation week. All these elements signal different markers. However, if we consider the rhizome path, or what Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg coins "nomadology" - there needs to be these markers around us to shape the experience and give us a chance to reflect and commemorate the work.

Working with writers for a long time, I've seen the burn-out of writers who never celebrate, who never take stock, and appreciate what they are doing. They work like dogs and just keep sludging along. These students immersed in the idea of "nomadology" need to refine the art of marking their work, finishing a rough draft, completing a long project. We don't need traditional benchmarks. We don't need grades. But we need moments to shift from action to reflection and prepare for more action. It is not a midterm exam or anything academic, a place to stand for a moment and see where you are. Even looking up through a gorge can be stunning and inspiring.

Oddly, I feel like we are coming to one of those benchmarks soon with the official close of #rhizo15 looming on the horizon, I feel that we need to move into that moment. I hope it goes on and this vibrant community of thinkers, writers, educators, and creative people continue to interact. But it also gives us a chance to think about what just happened and is still happening. I never thought I would fall into such a collectively amazing, thoughtful, and educationally necessary (for me personally) group. Not only did I find my own way of thinking validated, I also thought of so many things I am just wrapping my brain around. I really liked the respect, the humor, and the depth of thought in this group. And for some reason, I am amazed that I did so much on Twitter (which had not really been my go to social media outlet).

Rhizo15 is something that changed the way I think about a lot of things. It confirmed a lot of my personal scholarship, and it opened my eyes to how and why I should be setting more students out into their own vision of the rhizome. If we are destined to "nomadology" and the rhizome of learning, we should find new ways to connect the path, the purpose, and the vision into a something that will help choose the next path, purpose, and vision.

A few things I learned this month: I've been in the rhizomatic learning system all along. I should stay in that learning system, and never come out. I also learned that I should lure people in with whatever means I can and tell them that it will be okay, look at me (ha!). And lastly, I was finally able to put a name and a loose metaphor to this world of learning, giving it purpose and distinction even when it feels like it is drifting or lost. Knowing the name of the thing you've always known but couldn't say is like finding the magic words to unlock a language, or a whole new way of seeing something. For that alone, I am grateful and so optimistic. Perhaps that is my benchmark - my moment on the vista. Now, I must go back and see what kind of artifact I can make for Dave. I do have a half backed novella cooking somewhere... maybe I should pull open the oven door and see if it will rise. 


  1. I look forward to viewing/reading the artifact you create.

  2. As you know I love this teaching and learning style. Though everyone learns differently, I think this should be a learning option starting in grade school. I think college students would appreciate this teaching style more, if they were exposed to it at a younger age. A parents guide to rhiozmatic learning would be super awesome. (if it isn't done already of course.) I do plan to be a professor someday and have been analyzing teaching styles and class participation throughtout my college experience. I will definitely be taking what I have learned from your posts and teaching, into my whole life, my learning, my leading, my parenting, and my teaching.