Rhizomes that twist your arm

The question: Explore a model of enforced independence. How do we create a learning environment where people must be responsible? How do we assure ourselves that learners will self-assess and self-remediate?

 Every Art Every Child – Studio Habits


“As artists, kids have to learn to chase the quality of their work. Artists must make the best art that they can make, but that’s not your job. Your job is to get your students to chase the quality of their own work and make the best work they can make. So it can be confusing. I think we get really trapped and stuck in thinking that it’s our job to make really high-quality work, so that we can put it out in the hall and everybody will say that we have a good art program. “

I like this quote and think it fits in with the idea of “enforced independence”—which might sound better if we thought of it as removal of “dependency” or as Felicia Sullivan mentioned on Facebook: Graduated Release of Responsibility 

https://www.mheonline.com/_treasures/pdf/douglas_fisher.pdf where a person goes from being a student to being a learner.

Being a life-long-learner is something to take on personally. Seems odd to me that anyone would find something in school to personalize, it all seems so deliberately generic. But maybe an interest springs up and person wants to learn more. Or because everything is so the same, an individual wants a different viewpoint than the “we are all knowing the same thing in the same way” tape loop and goes off on their own? Or after a while of “not understanding”, people begin see the system isn’t listening, is going to persist repeating the same gibberish, and those people see no loss in finding a genuinely responsive environment and attempting to figure things out themselves.

 In normal times of course any ideas outside the norm are punished by further exclusion but the price of non-membership may be worth it.

Step one in creating a self-actualizing learner is to display respect for personal interests. There are too many things out there to cover all of them. And it’s simply not possible that some things are unworthy further attention because all the important crap needs to be covered first. Why are we afraid of self-declared interests? Will people skip out on brain surgery in favour of bowling? It seems we always need to do some “necessary” thing first and forget how to be interested.

One last thing, an independant learner can be wrong and not know it but  will never be as wrong for so long as the celebrated Mr Clueless because LLL self-corrects.

Can’t Find My Way Home – Bonnie Raitt & Lowell George & John Hammond Jr & Freebo


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  • Maha  On January 24, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    Great post, Scott! Thanks

    • scottx5  On January 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      Thanks Maha,
      Been sick this week and didn’t think anything would get written. This has been an interesting week though and I sense we’ve pushed past the who’s in and who’s out question that separates all members of all groups.

      Being a Mom you should read this: “The Work of the Imagination” by Paul L. Harris. Amazing how structured and universal pretending is.

      • Maha  On January 24, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        Found it at our library. Will look it up, thanks. Sorry. Have been sick, and hope u feel better now?

      • scottx5  On January 24, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Found the book off-putting at first. It seemed so “researchy” yet the imagination isn’t. How cool is it though that kids can build parallel imaginary environments that are consistent and based on principals they observe in daily life? Spilling pretend tea that needs to be cleaned up seems silly except we know the world from these small actions and assumptions and it can’t hurt to practice. Loss of the ability to pretend feels like something important in career change. Not having a place where it matters that it doesn’t matter is hard to explain.

        Bad day in Egypt yesterday? Been missing the news. Half the population here is Muslim and I know Fridays are significant. A day for expression and community?

      • Maha  On January 24, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        I have read that pretend play is one of the major ways kids learn, so yeah! Too bad we “lose” it sort of… Or lose respect for it. I wonder if professional actors continue some sort of spiritual growth or if it overwhelms them and hence they often lose their way… Thinking of child actors more, as well.

        Where r u in Canada where there are so many Muslims?

        RE: Egypt. Yeah, awful day. Fridays supposed to be the day people gather to pray together, but it is also a day off, and so people move from praying (peace) to protesting (or in today’s case, violence, started even before prayer) since they’re all together anyway. It’s ridiculous, because prayer is meant to calm you and prevent that kind of thing. Funny because Egyptians were mostly happy after 2011 with these protests… Then 3 years later no reform occurs but ppl still think taking to the street to demonstrate is going to achieve something? And i guess a group realized this is not working for them and started using violence (which side “started it” is the big divider in Egypt). Wrote about my take on it all this summer: http://www.al-fanarmedia.org/2013/08/critical-citizenship-for-critical-times/

      • scottx5  On January 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        Pretend is a kind hyper real state where things (a soap bar) designated as full teapots pour tea that behaves in a tea-like manner even though it isn’t there physically. In some ways pretend represents the importance of connections between people that can extend into, even in fantasy, to bond of trust. As an act of open vulnerability in its make-believe detachment from “reality” pretend also helps us fine tune meanings and ease misunderstandings.

        We are in a small town Lac La Biche, Alberta so “half the population” is only a couple of thousand, mostly Lebanese who have been here for over 100 years. I worked with the Daughter, Nadia of one of the original settlers. Her Father came here with the Hudson’s Bay company to establish a mink ranch next to the lake for the fish to feed the furry little guys. The lake itself is between the North Saskatchewan and Athabasca river watersheds vital to Canada’s early fur trade. Nadia’s Grandmother was half-Cree and half French Voyageur Métis
        so the six girls and one boy kept their rich black hair and have a kind of exotic look from the Cree cheekbones. Strangely, their connection to Lebanon almost broke until their Grandmother went “home” to Lebanon to settle. I hear it isn’t as cold there as here and no Buffalo running through your vegetable garden:-) We are 300 km NE of Edmonton in Alberta.

        Have to get back to you on the problems in Egypt. Grew up in Berkeley California and spent a lot of time at street demonstrations. Frustrating process and lots of people were hurt.

        Be Careful.

      • Maha  On January 24, 2014 at 11:43 PM

        It occurred to me that we do use role play and simulation in education, don’t we? Not often enough, but we do use it sometimes and it can be quite helpful as a rich safe learning environment for students when the actual experience is difficult to do or risky

      • scottx5  On January 25, 2014 at 12:25 AM

        Read your blog and the parallels concerning Coursera type MOOCs in the Middle East and here in parts of Canada are similar. When my wife was hired to initiate the Instructional Design dept. at the local college, the plan was to produce locally relevant content both for the local Cree and Metis communities to increase participation rates and catch dropouts from the public systems. For many of our students, drawn from a huge area of the North leaving their tiny communities was the first barrier. The dorms on campus enabled students to being their families. To the Western model of independence this seems silly but it’s a fact of their culture and also extends to Orthodox Russian communities.

        For the Native communities family is first. This plays out as early pregnancy for the girls who then disappear from school as do the boys for gang or drug reasons. Russian boys are pulled from school early to work in community businesses and the girls continue on up to college to learn accounting.

        The third major group are the Lebanese community. They live a generally Western lifestyle, attend Mosque and observe Muslim holy days. This includes Ramadan which is a real struggle in the summer this far North when sunrise and sunset are 16 and 1/2 hours apart. Rest of us are Canadian and Northern European “whites” and now lots of Philippine newcomers.

        After designing and building for our students the Instructional Design department also contracted to local companies to produce internet deliverable content. This included trades courses I liked working on Except most of it was the same or worse than the trade school stuff I did over 40 years ago. At least with the trades, after the B.S. school part you still get to go out and learn things:-)

        Due to a redirection in provincial government policy (they control education dollars) all this is greatly reduced. Local schools can produce their own things but for corporate clients or in hopes of being selected for inclusion in the provincial online archive that will distribute one “version” of each common undergrad course.

        So this is a bit like the xMOOC phenomenon of generic courses built to Middle-European cultural norms.

        Surprisingly here in oil rich Alberta tar sands district where millions of dollars in equipment pass literally through our back yard by train headed north daily, there’s no money for education. This is going to mean the closure of small colleges outside the main urban centres here. Or maybe they’ll have school by film at drive-in theartes. In the last 18 months the college has cut 50% of faculty, including student services, and will be trimming liberal arts pretty soon. Right now the place verges on being pointless and my Wife’s former department of 9 is down to 2 doing janitorial work on dusty old courses and sitting through endless, pointless meetings about unimportant policy for students who would do better to make it up themselves. Nothing new is thought here so why make up new classes?


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