The second week of #rhizo14 has the catchy and paradoxical (?) heading “enforcing independence”. I have been mulling over different aspects of this all day and here are some prelim thoughts (unsure if Dave has written this week’s opening post, but am holding back on reading it until I have published this post):
1. Is it problematic to enforce independence too early on children, e.g. By weaning them too early or sending them to daycare too early? Is it sometimes necessary and good for the child? How do we as parents know if we are doing this at the right time?
2. Is “independence” something that occurs within a person? A sense of self-sufficiency, or is it something that external others can encourage, empower, or even enforce? Does finding oneself in a situation where one needs to fend for oneself bring about independence, or does it merely bring it to the surface, when it was always already lurking underneath? We as a species are not born independent… We depend on our parents for many things until we can do them ourselves. We are social beings who depend on others to meet some of our most basic needs like food, though earlier people did not.
3. This all reminds me of the whole idea of “empowerment” and “liberation” – why do we as teachers talk about empowering our students as if power is something we have to give? As if we have control and influence over our students’ power, and as if power in the classroom translates in some linear fashion to power outside it? (I cheat – these are not my own original ideas and questions, but ones i have read somewhere in the critical pedagogy literature and probably by Ellsworth and interpretations of Foucault, but the advantage of blogging is that i don’t have to find the citation for each idea right now)
4. Independence also has a political, postcolonial connotation. Here in Egypt, I also feel that after January 2011 we found ourselves in what seemed to have been an enforced independence – but that’s not working out too well…
5. Independence has connotations of being part of natural growth and progress, being a good thing to which to strive, but does it always have good consequences? Is it not possible that independence will bring on disaster if the person is not equipped to handle it? But how will the person learn to handle it if they are never given the responsibility (Egypt again: how will we learn to be a democracy if we don’t get a chance to live a democracy and act it out, learn from our mistakes)
6. In learning and teaching – do we sometimes try to force our students to become independent and how uncomfortable does it make them feel? Does it always work well? Who decides whether it has worked well?
7. It also occurred to me that i am assuming Dave plans to step back and let us all be “independent” for the rest of the course. I assume this is something that started happening after the live session, the unhangout, as folks started to discuss topics they wanted to pursue for the rest of the #rhizo14 weeks?
8. I prefer the goal of “interdependence” than “independence” – i understand this via a reading by Pedler early on when i was doing my MEd, about a learning community being a group of individuals taking diverse pathways to diverse goals, but supporting each other throughout. Interdependence. And that cannot be forced in any way that i can imagine, but can be encouraged and nurtured. I really appreciate all the ways individuals in #rhizo14 have supported each other (and me) and found ways of connecting everyone’s ideas together so that those of us who missed some parts could catch up on them and see what had previously been hidden from our view. I also appreciate the new tech tools i am learning about and how technology helps this process of interdependence and facilitates it… Easier to be pursuing different goals if we’re not stuck in a classroom fixed by time and space. And also easier to support each other in sporadic ways that suit our own schedules.
What do others think?
This post sort of looks as messed up as my brain right now, firing connections right and left so that there is no linear flow of ideas… I am increasingly seeing rhizomes as neurons that connect in strange ways… So there are the internal rhizomes of each of our brains and the external rhizomes of our social interactions. I actually think that Martin’s twitter tag explorer looks rhizomatic, doesn’t it?