The roots of a tree grow strong, fierce, inevitably charging it’s way through the hard undergrowth of the earth–in seemingly unknown and uninhabited patterns. How can we predict the path of a tree’s root? How can we know what the root is seeking and where it will end? What is the potential of growth for any living thing?
Botanical species organically grow and develop with basic common structures, but they each have uncertain and unexplainable development potentials during the growth process. The development of human life presents the same unpredictable variables. We each possess the same basic anatomical structures, such as hearts, minds, and bones, but yet we grow and manifest in such extraordinarily different ways. How can we possibly predict what will come and what will be once a life has begun?
The potential for education shares these unpredictable and unlimited roots and possibilities for growth, and it’s greatest foundation for supporting exponential growth relies heavily on the environment in which our students begin to develop. The influence of environment on the development process is not limited to just humans, but rather to any species or source or life overall. The growth potential of any plants is limited to the resources available in environments where they manifest, such as sunlight and water.
The limiting foundation of environments can be paralleled to the accessibility of “knowledge” and information from any discipline, “Information is the foundation of knowledge. The information in any given field consists of facts and figures, such as may be found in the technical reference manuals of learning…individual experts translate information into knowledge…” (Cormier, 2008).
Once commonly accepted notions of our solar system, including the concept of a geocentric universe, took years to disprove and revise; oftentimes, with social agendas and perspectives mitigating and inhibiting the potential growth process, as clearly seen from Copernicus’s once anonymous explanations of our heliocentric universe.
These changes, alterations and reconfigurations of beliefs and understandings have forced us to inevitably become flexible in our perspectives regarding growth potential for assumed knowledge, expertise, and new ideas, “[t]he increasingly transitory nature of what is lauded as current or accurate in new and developing fields, as well as the pace of change in Western culture more broadly, has made it difficult for society in general and education in particular to define what counts as knowledge” (Cormier, 2008). Historically, this accepted “knowledge” and other informational facts have been stored mainly in the minds and thoughts of experts and their resources, but these conduits of understanding have steadily morphed into a fluid, unpredictable, and oftentimes contested confluence of ideas, thoughts, and opinions. The once static decrees of what is or what should be or how things work has become a dynamic myriad of insurmountable and seemingly unending masses of information, widely accessible to all, and proclaimed by anyone.
Take for instance the dangers of DiHydrogen Monoxide. A simple Google search of the term will produce a variety of results warning people about the dangerous effects of this element, begging for support in banning it altogether:
…the U.S. Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not classify Dihydrogen Monoxide as a toxic or carcinogenic substance (as it does with better known chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and benzene), DHMO is a constituent of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing agents, environmental hazards and can even be lethal to humans in quantities as small as a thimbleful. (DHMO)
Seems pretty dangerous, right? There are facts and other “scientific rhetoric” providing the dangers of this substance, and believe it or not, many of these facts are true! Further research of the topic will simply result in the discovery that DHMO is merely the technical term for the commonly used compound known as water. DiHydrogen (2 molecules of Hydrogen) Monoxide (1 molecule of oxygen)–more commonly referred to as H2O.
So our ever-changing technological existence and advances provide individuals the opportunities and platforms to have a voice and contribute to society and community in meaningful and thoughtful ways, and sometimes, in not so helpful ways, as seen above. We (Americans) are no longer (seemingly fully) bound by the beliefs and scrupulous conformity of religious sectors political leaders, because we have the access and capabilities to absorb knowledge, share it, and grown from one another. But how do we ensure that these opportunities for growth serve as a catalyst for positive, credible, collaboration?
In Dave Cormier’s “Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum,” Cormier speaks about the concept of rhizomatic education, emphasizing this notion of growth potential as witnessed from the rhizome plant which has no limitations or restrictions to its development process. In using the rhizome plant as his muse, Cormier sets out to advocate the support of non-traditional academic models or cannons that place the expert as the knowledge holder, but rather place the students as the collaborative masses of learnings, prescribing innovative ways of transforming, developing, adapting, and synergizing curriculum as the community of learners become the catalyst for growth for one another: “Collaborative knowledge construction is also being taken up in fields that are more traditionally coded as learning environments. In particular, social learning practices are allowing for a more discursive rhizomatic approach to knowledge discovery” (Cormier, 2008). We now possess the great strength and individual potential to lead and share together, contribute in new ways, and serve our community through our contributions to various knowledge-based platforms.
Digital literacies and rhetoric from all fields have become expanding forces, continually augmenting in novel ways, and in order to appropriately acclimatize ourselves with such changes, we must be willing to perpetually adapt to new technologies, models of instruction, and new meanings of literacy, curriculum development, and the learning process. In order to embrace to the deictic nature of learning and understanding, we, as educators, must also agree to share our knowledge, demonstrate its use, and prove the functionality and subsequent sustainability of explored ideas over an extended period of time. Through consistent collaboration, development of community, and an open-minded propensity to accept the potential of our collective force, who knows where our roots will end.
Cormier, David. “Dave’s Educational Blog.” Daves Educational Blog. N.p.,
3 June 2008. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.