Archive for November 9th, 2011
The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.
But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.
Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.
I see rhizomatics as a potent metaphor for conceptualizing the process of learning, and for approaching how we go about learning and working with learning. The value in the idea of the rhizome, for me, is the way in which it foregrounds the unpredictability, the messiness, the connectedness, and the multi-directionality of learning, knowledge, and educational research. I see rhizomatic learning almost as a lens, a pair of glasses one learns to put on in order to view the educational landscape. The rhizome is non-binary, non-hierarchical, and non-linear: it’s also aggressive and chaotic and resists the tree-like arboreal model of knowledge. For Deleuze & Guattari, it is a cultural process that emphasizes “ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.” Yeh. That. I don’t think rhizomatic learning can be used particularly effectively to address grading, or curriculum, or most of the structures of systemic education. The rhizome is not a way of tweaking the systems we have.
Bringing Marx, Gramsci and Foucault together is not so common in Germany and this is reflected in the limited number of scholars who do such work. Most critical intellectuals who refer to one of these names usually exclude the other two. For example, those who consider Marx from the perspective of the so called new reading of Marx show but little interest in most of the post-Marx-debates and would regard them as more or less misleading, ideological, and insufficiently radical. The same neglect holds for Gramsci, who is often seen by Marx scholars as the theoretician of the ‘historical compromise’. Likewise, Foucault is regarded as incompatible with their concern to reformulate and to restore Marx’ theory. For those refer to both Marx and Gramsci, Foucault is often seen as an unwitting or even deliberate supporter of neo-liberalism. Similarly, analysts of Foucault’s work obviously do not believe that the kind of analyses inspired by Marx – critical political economy, state theory, or critical theory of ideology – could contribute to “governmentality studies” or a critical history of the present. Things become even complicated if we bring Critical Theory into the picture.