Planned, yet unrehearsed obsolescence #rhizo14



sensory experience: wanna try? Listen to this while reading

I see rhizomes everywhere

Last friday I conducted a routine test validation session with a group of twenty teachers. Although the ultimate purpose of meetings such as this one is to calibrate and make adjustments to a specific assessment instrument, it is also a precious opportunity to tap into the collective knowledge and experiences that those teachers are having in their piloting experiences using recently adopted course books. This was the second time I tried out  a specific set of group dynamics in which  small clusters of 4 to 5 people engage with the instrument being assessed and with each other. Once those nodes were all set, we were off. As we progressed in the assessment of the instrument, relevant connections began to sprang up in conversation about pertinent classroom situations, activities, approaches to a given subject/skill, and as we seized these opportunitites to ask questions, discuss issues, share difficulties, our co-constructed space seemed to be teeming with dense connection. Never before had I found myself answering so many questions with… questions… The silences that followed some of those, along with the intensity of their engagement with the instrument and each other, first within their smaller, more intimate networks, and then with the larger network, the community of teachers. Ideas abound in a free flow, it was all happening. And all I had been doing was answering questions with more questions.



On Power & Force

As a supervisor I am regarded as a leader, and with leadership comes responsibility and power. Which reminds me of the considerations Keith Hammon made in our last (and brilliant) #rhizo14 unhangout regarding the power play in human relations. 

“I don’t know a way to engage with other people without engaging in power. I do distinguish between power and force. (…) what I mean force is… I have a small gravitational pull which will, in your presence, act upon you however slightly. Power is different in that it seems to imply some sort of intention, or some sort of decision on the part of the person exercising it. The power issue is as problematic for me as it appears to be for Clarissa, but I don’t know how to do away with it (…) and my only take is to recognize that everyone has power.”

I really might have been experimenting with the <power> <force> interface that day with my fellow teachers. My force being perceived in the mediation of interactions among the networks and, in specific moments, the exertion of power might have been more concrete when a decision had to me made, for example in my decision of reallocating a specific amount of points from one section to the other, but decisions which were, nonetheless, informed by the force of the individuals who were there, sharing that space with me, sometimes kicking the ball to a secret corner, one which had never been openly spoken of/reflected upon. Experts on tap.

Unrehearsed obsolescence

So many were the moments during that gathering in which my role as supervisor faded in the background. I answered questions with other questions also because I didn’t have the answers, and I came clean about it. (I’ll remix Dave’s words in our unhangout now.) > So much a part of performing the role of supervisor/teacher properly is to be honest and emotional about what you’re doing. It really might be that the way you make it work is by coming clean about your own vulnerabilities, candidly admitting your own uncertainties. Could that be the untold secret about leveraging the power play to create a space of equality?

And since I feel like exercising with my newly acquired literacy of remix, I’ll mash in some of Keith’s thoughts on obsolescence. I might be looking to make my supervisor/teacher role obsolete, which doesn’t mean that I want to make me obsolete. I don’t want to be above, and nor do I want to be left behind. I wanna be in equal footing with others, my students and my teachers. How else could I achieve that if not by becoming a co-learner and a co-constructor? As Keith so clearly put it

“I appreciate the fact that you (Dave) were able to share power (in #rhizo14), and maybe that’s another strategy for dealing with power. You can’t do away with power, but you can share it. And if you share it intelligently and sympathetically, maybe you’ve done the best you can do in handling power.”

What does it mean to ‘end’ an experience in rhizomatic learning?

I confessed to my fellow rhizoers that the rhizo journey has been, for me, a journey of deconstruction. In so many ways the rizhome has been creeping up all over me. In so many ways I have been unable to find the words that encapsulate bits of that experience. Little did I know at the time I had you locked on my radar that I had been about to embark in the deepest, densest, most significant learning experience I have ever had to this day. The rhizome did find an awful lot of fertile ground in me, at this time of my life – this, and not before, not after, not even by a day.

This is not a rhizo farewell post, even though I have been awkwardly postponing it in an attempt to un-end, suspend.

Having said that, I also feel the urge of declaring my absolute admiration and gratefulness to all of you rhizoers out there who have been pouring out your hearts, and sharing the works of your brilliant minds. What a privilege it has been.

Let us rhizo on together. > #rhizo15



rhizoidimagery> all of the photos are of my street (1st photo) and my home (2nd and 3rd) .. you’re welcome


  1. I listened to the music and found myself wanting to strip down all the words down to their roots. Here is my interpretation of your text through my filter, rhizoming on together.

    rhizomes everywhere.
    so many questions within questions
    deepening the silence that follows.
    first within
    and then without the larger
    freer flow. All happening now
    and answering questions now with more questions.
    and finding a way
    to play with others
    within the powers at play.
    I answered questions with other questions
    because I didn’t have the answers.
    I come clean about it:
    to be honest
    and feel my own need
    I make it work by coming clean
    to those uncertainties.
    Could that be
    the untold need?
    I won’t be left above
    nor left behind
    on this journey of deconstruction,
    encapsulate and locked on someone else’s radar
    about to embark.
    I want the power of this deep, dense rhizoming-on
    in unrehearsed obsolescence,
    casting off and cast off,
    rhizomes everywhere.

  2. Still listening to the music as I type this. I don’t think that power is a bad thing as long as it is shared. I realise just how many of my friends on Facebook are ex-students of mine and how much I value what they continue to teach me. Here’s to #rhizo15 🙂

    1. Thank you, Dave, for reading and for the lovely comment. Here’s to the beauty of being and becoming…
      If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you…

  3. Thanks for sharing. Love the music. The experience does not end. I’ve made another connection here. The rhizome may exist underground for awhile, unexpectedly emerging. I embrace that uncertainty. Consider the background here an image of my street. Snow. An unusually cold winter this year. Rhizo14 has been a great warm fire to gather around.

    1. Hello, Barry! The music is by Amon Tobim (aka Cujo), and that entire album is worth your while. No, it doesn’t. That’s something else, ain’t it?
      Frozen rhizomes buried deep, deep down finding their way up, cracking the ice and… wonderful!
      check this out:
      there’s a slide towards the end which is the perfect imagery for my reply to you. Let’s see if you discover which one I mean…

  4. Incredible post, Clarissa, and I share with you this difficulty expressing what it is that just happened! Is happening 🙂 but also interesting that what you can express, including the emotional aspects of teaching mentioned in the hangout relate to also how I feel and I cannot remember if I blogged about that before or after the hangout but it amazes me how “parts of us” (the nodes on the rhizome? It is one rhizome,right, even if ppl branch out or break off or join midway?) have tended to transfer ideas across… So that, strangely, none of us is aware of all that is happening but important aspects of it reach u in other ways (e.g. Discussion on emotion in hangout, fb, our blogs,twitter, and no one person probably accessed it all, but it is going around and through). Love and hugs

    1. Maha, when I ‘barged in’ midway rhizo14, you were the first person to give me a smile. I felt we were going to have a connection from the start. I am ever so glad I have had the chance of knowing a little of you in this crazy rhizo ride, as I’m calling it. Thank you so much for being an engaged listener and interlocutor. Many times I also felt that there has been some sort of creation of a collective mind in rhizo14… can’t really explain it. I sometimes read posts written by you guys which seemed to tap into my very own inner space.
      Love it. My heart goes out to you.
      Amor e abraços.

    2. Hiya Clarissa — agree on that collective mind thing! It should be worrying but i find it somehow comforting 😉 will look up the translation of that Portuguese u just wrote 😉

    3. Now there is a thought that might be worth pursuing, Maha… Do rhizomatic learning experiences reach some sort of peak of density in connection that a creative collective sub-mind seems to come forth… ponder that for a while.

  5. Dear Clarissa,

    I’m here still distilling your words, and remembering the many times I’ve had this #rhizomatic experience with my dear fellow Webheads, a group that taught me everything about wild connections, but still strong, loving and caring for each other, and amazingly close that we tend to forget the geographical distance and the many time zones that remind us of our own backgrounds. As I said before, it is just so good to sit back and follow your journey and your willingness to get out there, try out, experience new learning possibilities. This impacts us in ways that there’s no possible turn back.

    1. My dear friend, distance is often transcended by the density of connections among curious (and brillliant) minds, and I regard you as being among those who have made this journey so meaningful to me.
      My roots have been carved up and seem to be turning aerial in their nature.
      I’m most willing to fly – as I already am – and have already gone past the point of no return.
      Thank you for your lovely comment, which inspired me to write you this reply.

  6. Clarissa, you have a real gift for capturing the rhizome in concrete language and images. This is very valuable to me, as I struggle against being too abstract. You embody those connections and say it so well.

    So a concrete question: obviously Rhizo14 changed you, which I define as learning, and Rhizo14 was mediated almost totally by technology—as far as I know, very few people had f2f meetings. So how did the technology help and how did it hinder you? Was technology just a neutral stage on which the magic happened, or did it contribute in some way?

    Thanks. And please keep writing.

    1. Keith, interestingly enough, I have always been tech-curious but struggling a bit. However, something clicked inside me this year… I made up my mind that I’d use technology to connect and learn and get out there, and that the struggle would not stop me, not anymore, not as it did in the past. Anyway, I’m Miss tutorial lady now! *lol* Anything I want to do with technology which I don’t really know how to, or have never done before, I find a tutorial for. Another thing is that I’m not ashamed to ask the silliest questions, which I do all the time, especially with some very tech-savvy coworkers of mine, namely @carlaarena (for one). Take that Google Hangout that I had the pleasure of participating in with you guys. That was my first hangout ever. I wasn’t sure I was gonna have trouble or make a fool out of myself, but hey, I wasn’t gonna miss it for any of that. Back to your first question, technology was not a hindrance. I guess the only ‘hindrance’ was wanting to take in more and simply being unable to… be it for time constraints (life & work, 24-hour day), be it for humanly-possible cognitive capacity to tak it all in… However, and to answer your second question, technology did contribute in many ways. I learned new tools, such as Zeega (thanks to @tellio for that!), practiced more with tools I’d just become familiar with (like Pocket, for example), and connected like mad via Twitter, FB, Pinterest and the amazing blogosphere. And technology enabled me to touch base with the community and engage with the course in my own time, learning on demand, so to speak, in terms of time management. I guess the magic happened in the curation of content… and I guess it was the rhizome taking over… I mean, I allowed myself to be drawn to different people, different blogs, takes, comments… Those who spoke to me somehow… (now, talk about being too abstract!)
      I’ll tell you what: I will definitely mull over this second question of yours and will answer it with a post. (this might be getting too long anyway so…) ;P
      Keith, wow, thank you for the inspiration here! And please keep connecting.

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