1492: Week 4 -- Can/should we get rid of the idea of 'dave'? How do we teach rhizomatically?

Cormier comments

It’s a chance for people to come together and focus on a particular topic… it’s one of the ways to garden the internet. But what is the role of the facilitator/teacher/professor where we are using learning subjectives, where learning isn’t measured and where content is actually other people? What cultural concepts do we have that we can use as models? Do we need a new model?

How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically? Or, even… do we?

 A tweet suggested that Cormier was no longer in charge – and must be tired anyway. We shall keep this topic for next week.  For now -- can the rhizome be used in formal learning? Isn’t it too subjective, indeterminate? This MOOC is itself structured compared to Net.  It is like a party –we have a finite term, and know what is to happen in a general sense

I think any direct intervention by D and G could be seen as pretty negative towards conventional pedagogues, as suggested in some of the earlier quotes about children being political prisoners, or education offering 'order words'(although that is actually not as bad as it sounds - it could be rewritten as offering children conventional structures widespread in ordinary language use).  Both rejected their own pedagogues, Deleuze in reacting against his university course on philosophy, and Guattari by breaking with Lacan (eventually) More generally, Deleuze refers to the role of education in the 'society of control': 

In the disciplinary societies [as in Foucault] one was always starting again (from school to the barracks, from the barracks to the factory), while in the societies of control one is never finished with anything--the corporation, the educational system, the armed services being metastable states coexisting in one and the same modulation, like a universal system of deformation...power individualizes and masses together, that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and molds the individuality of each member of that body. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters...The modulating principle of "salary according to merit" has not failed to tempt national education itself. Indeed, just as the corporation replaces the factory, perpetual training tends to replace the school, and continuous control to replace the examination. Which is the surest way of delivering the school over to the corporation...For the school system: continuous forms of control, and the effect on the school of perpetual training, the corresponding abandonment of all university research, the introduction of the "corporation" at all levels of schooling...Many young people strangely boast of being "motivated"; they re-request apprenticeships and permanent training. It's up to them to discover what they're being made to serve, just as their elders discovered, not without difficulty, the telos of the disciplines.

There is also this from Deleuze (2004),in the midst of as complex discussion about how conventional thinking constructs 'problems' and links them to 'solutions':

Teachers apparently know that you don’t find normal errors or falsities in homework, but rather ‘nonsensical sentences, remarks without interest or importance, banalities mistaken for profundities, ordinary “points” confused with singular points, badly posed or distorted problems—all heavy with dangers, yet the fate of us all’ (191)...problems in science exams depend on an orthodox symbolic field and some authority figure, both of which can be questioned.  There also some pedagogic experiments which are designed to help pupils participate in the fabrication of problems, but again there is a danger [of incorporation or management] if we do not push our investigations to the transcendental level, where problems appear ‘not as “givens” (data) but as ideal “objecticities” possessing their own sufficiency’ (198). What is required is ‘an essential apprenticeship or process of learning’. ‘Learning is the appropriate name for the subjective acts carried out when one is confronted with the objecticity of a problem (Idea), whereas knowledge designates only the generality of concepts or the calm possession of a rule enabling solutions’ (204).

Again simple examples are misleading, like the ones deriving from a situation where a master sets a problem and the pupils have to solve it, ‘and the result is accredited true or false by a powerful authority’ (197).  This is an infantile prejudice and ‘also a social prejudice with the visible interest of maintaining us in an infantile state, which calls upon us to solve problems that come from elsewhere, consoling or distracting us by telling us that we have won, simply by being able to respond’ ‘Such is the origin of the grotesque image of culture that we find in examinations and government referenda as well as the newspaper competitions…  Be yourselves-- it being understood that this self must be that of others’ (197).

‘To learn is to enter into the universal of the relations which constitute the Idea, and into the corresponding singularities’  (204).  [The example is Leibniz’s understanding of the sea as a kind of system of relations between particulars and singularities incarnated in the movements of waves.  Deleuze goes on to grasp the idea of learning to swim in the sea as ‘to conjugate the distinctive points of our bodies with the singular points of the objective Idea in order to form a problematic field’ (205). This is not coaching advice! The objective Idea of the sea is explained in terms of Leibniz's conception of the waves of the sea as a series of minor curves governed by a major set of curves {roughly}, so  I interpret this as an argument that we should try to grasp the movements of virtual reality as they affect {sic} us].

So -- anti-school (and university) in a recognizable way, but not exactly enthusiastic about 'progressive' alternatives either.  As usual, the whole argument suggests that we need a deep philosophical rejection of many of the basic tenets of 'ordinary thought' rather than new relationships between pedagogues and students. Where would MOOCs fit in, for example? Do they escape the point about 'perpetual training'? Can rhizomatic education really challenge the power of corporations and corporate universities?

Guattari talks about his own group - based practice in  the La Borde psychiatric clinic ( ‘ludic face to face encounter with patients and the acceptance of singularities’ (8))  The whole book addresses the issue of subjectivity, reminding us that we need to focus on subjectivity not the subject, previously seen as ‘the ultimate essence of individuation’ (22). and pointing out some broader pedagogical principles: as an example, schools are now being questioned: ‘How do you make a class operate like a work of art?  What are the possible paths to its singularization, the source of a “purchase on existence” for the children who compose it?’ [The reference is to a French work on pedagogy by Rene Lafitte that I do not know] (132) We need to aim at a workable creativity, or the production of subjectivity (133).

This is to argue both for and against 'pedagogy', of course. Individuals often cannot break out of their own constraining subjectivations (especially neurotics or schizophrenics and others in a 'black hole' of subjectivity,  experiencing 'ontological petrification', 82). They require some skilled intervention. Group-based pedagogy is required, [gently] challenging such petrification . This still leaves the staff at La Borde having to operate with  ‘an essentially ethical duplicity’ (86)—they try to remodel existential territories and develop new semiotic components, but they can only claim pathic access to chaosmosis by recreating and reinventing themselves as ‘bodies without organs receptive to non-discursive intensities’ (86).  In other words, they must first submerge themselves in ‘homogenetic immanence’. The duplicity arises, I think, in that they must pose as an authority to convince the patients to trust them, knowing that this stance is itself a result of oppressive subjectivation.

So -- asking can we do without pedagogy for me turns into asking what sort of pedagogy? What is the best kind of pedagogy? What sort of heroes are required to take on pedagogical tasks, both analyzing the deep sources of oppression and control in organizations and societies, fighting off the effects on their own subjectivation, and opening themselves to chances to liberate others? No-wonder there is low recruitment, high drop-out and massive turnover!

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