#rhizo15 Subjective Perspectives

Learning Subjectives

designing for when we don’t know where we’re going


How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going? How does that free us up? What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives? Good questions Dave Cormier, course facilitator of Rhizo15: a practical view.

For over 20 years my work as an Australian secondary maths and science teacher was driven by objectives and standards based assessment. The thought of walking into a classroom of 30 x 15 year old students without a tight plan of “where we are going” is the stuff of nightmares to me. Nightmarish in the context of the current education system. I’ll leave this thought for the moment and return to Dave’s questions, in another context, that of my professional learning.

I no longer teach maths and science, instead I wander around in open digital networks looking for professional learning opportunities. I’m still a registered teacher and now, educational researcher. Gotta keep current to bridge the academic-practice divide.

My learning in open digital networks is not pre-determined by someone else’s objectives, it’s driven by perspectives, my subjective perspectives and the subjective perspectives of others. If the curriculum of a Rhizomatic course is the people, the learning experience could be seen as perspective change.

Drawing on my love of science ( and open educational resources), take Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution as an example of learning through perspective change. The 19th Century brought with it many challenges to how people viewed themselves and the world they lived in. Public debate was rife at the time (still is) as people discussed the ‘truth’ of Darwin’s theory of human evolution. Perspectives clashed, alternative views were considered and, for many, pre-existing beliefs about the origin of man were transformed.

image Credit: A Logical Refutation of Mr Darwin’s Theory, 1871, Wellcome Images

Here’s another example of learning through perspective change. Cholera epidemics in London during the 19th century and public access to microscopes inspired this etching. The woman’s perception of the water in her cuppa was shattered, changed forever. There was no going back, her learning was transformative.

imageCredit: Monster Soup, Wellcome Images

Monster Soup: a woman dropping her porcelain tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water; revealing the impurity of London drinking water. Coloured etching by W. Heath, 1828.

Critical reflection of one’s beliefs, in the light of new information, can lead to perspective change. If people challenge us with new information in a Rhizomatic course, is this the curriculum and is perspective change the learning experience? Is transformative learning a theoretical framework for the Rhizo?

An abundance of complex ideas and creative pursuits seem to ooze from Rhizo conversations on social media, in the total absence of learning objectives. Pre-packaged objectives bring learning to an end, subjecting perspectives to change never ends. This frees us up for life-long learning via wisdom of the crowd.

Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New  directions for adult and continuing  education, 1997(74), 5-12. Chicago