Hitchhiker’s Guide to Rhizo15

To conclude the Rhizo15 learning experience, Dave Cormier prompts all participants to collectively create artefacts and explore or create a ‘practical guide’ to rhizomatic learning.

What is a ‘guide’?  Is it a person or a thing?

I recently purchased a ‘guide to gardening’ – is this what Dave means? Teachers are often referred to as a ‘guide on the side’ – I am beside myself!

In Canada, a guide is frequently needed to traverse through forests and manage river travel. I could guide someone through a rhizo experience since I’ve been through it, somewhat. Would I be a practical guide? Will I stand as a guide-marker like an inukshuk, pointing the way for those who follow?

What can a guide to guides teach us? Many guides have been written about so many topics, (not to mention “Idiot’s Guide to…” or “….. for Dummies”). It is a challenge to select a few for consideration, ones that have some connections or provide a model to Rhizo15.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy reminds us that space is infinite, a place where travellers should expect the unexpected. For Rhizo15 this guide reminds us that learning and/or teaching is unbound by time or place and cannot be designed – “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” (Hitchiker’s Guide). This guide also reminds us not to panic and that – “It’s a tough galaxy. If you want to survive, you’ve gotta know…where your towel is.” (Wikiquote) For Rhizo15, this type of guide would ease the way for those who find rhizomatic spaces full of unusual creatures, puzzling events and uncertain directions.

Sibley’s Guides to Birds and Trees in North America provide a ‘holistic’ approach to identification based on features, characteristics, behaviours, differences/similarities and probabilities. These guides help people quickly determine patterns and the ‘gestalt’ of the item under consideration. They are described like a map rather than a key. For Rhizo15, a guide of this type would help examine patterns of conversations in twitter, explore features within readings or creative ventures, or analyze the differences/similarities found in the created works of participants. Mapping the rhizo15 learning experience is subjective but common characteristics can be seen in the interactions, actions, and patterns.

The Farmer’s Almanac is the ultimate guide to all things plant and weather related, as well as community events, recipes and more. Since 1792, this digest has provided a compilation of tips, advice, puzzles, trends and historical perspectives. It’s been the ‘go-to’ location for those living close to the land – a trusted source for honest information. For Rhizo15, this type of guide should be written and compiled by those who experience and explore, the voices from trusted sources, to bring forward information and tips needed by those who live close to the land of learning rhizomatically.

If you travel anywhere in the world, chances are you’ve glanced at a Lonely Planet Guide. These guides can provide highlights and tourist locations, items of interest or key features, as well as tips on accommodations, legal matters, and ways to get around. When reviewing travel guides, such as this guide to Discovering Canada, it’s important to notice that sometimes it’s what is NOT included that could be the most interesting experiences. For a guide to Rhizo15, providing tips to the ‘spaces’ and elements that are not included, should be evident, since it’s into these open, uncharted spaces that learners will discover themselves.

SO…. here’s One Hitchhiker’s Guide to Rhizo15.

Get on Board: You can’t experience the journey, travel the planet, or take a look at the trees unless you’re onboard, online, on track. Making a commitment to DO IT, engage and experience from beginning to end is important. Contribute in whatever way you can, whenever you can, with people who reciprocate. We are not all exceptional at spotting unique bird species or locating out-of-the-way restaurants, but we can contribute in some way to the experiences of all. Since Rhizo15 occurs in a multitude of digital spaces, don’t let that deter you. Don’t panic and remember where you put your towel.

Plant Something: When going into the Rhizo15 space, it’s okay to get the ‘lay of the land’. It’s good to know the plant hardiness zones (for Canada) because these outline what types of plants can tolerate certain conditions. Find a sunny spot, sheltered from the wind, with one or two fellow rhizoers, to plant something – an idea, a poem, a poster, a joke, a song, a recipe, or anything you find interesting. Don’t be afraid it won’t grow – rhizomatic learning is surprisingly resilient.

Explore highlights, but don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path: Guides – paper or person – can only take you so far. They can point out some important features but sometimes the best learning happens when you get lost, get off the beaten path, dig deeper into unknown areas. Finding a hidden gem, then sharing it, brings new connections, ideas or concepts to light. Working through rhizomatic learning experiences requires time to wander, wonder, and just work around some ideas, problems, interesting puzzles. These unknown spaces can bring forward some interesting insights.

Acknowledge Feelings: Make sense, make connections and make sure you check in with how you are feeling as the rhizo-learning experience evolves. Find a trusted source (you’ll find some in the Farmer’s Almanac of Rhizo Learning) to talk to, listen to, refer to – watch and learn or step away from the edge if the space is getting too uncomfortable. But don’t give up – look for patterns, find key features, focus on the ‘gestalt’ and keep your comfortable towel handy, but keep on going. The struggle, uncertainty, uncomfortable space will reveal unbelievable vistas if you relax and ride along.

There is NO Guide!  Not a book, not a map, not a tip sheet or expert at your elbow. The beauty of rhizomatic learning spaces is found in the serendipitous moments where you hear yourself say ‘aha’. The wandering path through blog posts, twitter comments, google spaces won’t lead to anywhere or anything that you are not ready to find. No guide can point out the highlights – those are yours to find. No guide can point the direction – it’s wherever you wander. No person will stand at your side and say “look here”. You’ll pass whole planets without a blink only to find a golden nugget in one sentence written by a fellow rhizo-learner and a new universe may be revealed.

For all who hitchhike through the rhizome – some thoughts from T.S.Elliot

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Elliot
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5 Responses to Hitchhiker’s Guide to Rhizo15

  1. kerr63 says:

    Really, the Rhizomatic Learning Guide should also begin with “Don’t panic.”

    • HJ.DeWaard says:

      Agreed! Number one tip – it can be very overwhelming, like looking into the universe. Way too complicated and terrifying if you try to take it all in. Love the towel analogy too – clean up, comfort, wrapped up! Just seemed to fit!

  2. jaapsoft2 says:

    This is the ultimate Guide: There is NO Guide! Not a book, not a map, not a tip sheet or expert at your elbow. The beauty of rhizomatic learning spaces is found in the serendipitous moments where you hear yourself say ‘aha’.

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