Don’t de-value our roles as educators – #rhizo15

This weeks discussion on #rhizo15 was co-opted by a participant in the course – Viplav kindly suggested that we as learners to take over the role of facilitating our own learning – somewhat in a rhizomatic way. I should note that this was done in a kind and friendly way – and not meant as a de-valuing of Dave in any way. Viplav’s post, in turn had Dave (the course leader) change his plans for week 4 – jumping onto the ‘teachable moment’ that just happened. So, this week, the topic is “Can/should we get rid of the idea of ‘dave’? How do we teach rhizomatically“.

As someone who has worked as a professional educator in the corporate sector, I am highly aware of how my skills are constantly de-valued. Too often, it is the subject matter expert, who is given the credit for a good course – and the instructional designer behind the scenes is seen as superfluous.

In higher education, the whole xMOOC movement often de-values the role of the instructor – or elevates the role of one person to ‘super star’ and de-values the role of everyone else involved in making that person the super star. Heck, at one point the governor of California suggested that all undergraduate courses could be taught be computers!

My argument is that by de-valuing the daveness in #rhizo15, we de-value ourselves as educators. We need to do a better job of recognizing the skills that we bring to the table when we teach/facilitate/lead a course. Part of what makes #rhizo so special is the safe space for exploration that Dave created. Another part of what made it work was the network of connections that Dave brought to the table when the first course began. He fostered connections in advance of the course. We also should not dismiss the fact that he is able to adapt to change quickly – taking advantage of the ‘teachable moment’ that happened when Viplav suggested that we as learners take control of #rhizo15. We cannot and should not dismiss the daveness in Rhizo, in part because that de-values the skills that we each bring to the table as educators.

3 Comments

  1. Nice thinking here, Rebecca.

    This reminds us that even these very conversations would not have come had it not been for the enormous, and often unappreciated or recognized, efforts of the facilitator, Dave. While Dave turned on a dime to change the plans, the Daveness-course comment would most likely not have arisen or been discussed had the contentless course Dave presented and enticed us to enter been in place. This takes trust and technology and the right people who have time and resources to do all we do.

    Hmm, lots of thinking still to do on this. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Rebecca. Throughout #Rhizo15, I have greatly appreciated Dave’s skill in posing questions. His questions challenge a lot of the assumptions that any of us might bring to education or might be faced with in our teaching or learning. At the same time, his questions are open and porous, framed broadly enough to invite many ways in or facets to engage with. This is a well-developed gift, which invites reciprocal sharing and exploration. I can think of others whose contributions have helped to shape the ethos of Rhizo15. Much of what is good and rooted here complements the daveness.

  3. nice one Rebecca – couldn’t agree more… also thinking though about the number of lecturers out there who hold their students in pretty high contempt, not acknowledging their contributions and role in the ways of open kindness…. had a most interesting meeting yesterday in a science faculty course review process where we achieved a most wonderful agreement that we as curriculum development team would not only acknowledge our respective inputs in all aspects of design and development and teaching, but will also start operating in a wiki so that we can demonstrate to students how open collaboration actually works in the workplace as model before we then ask them to do group assignments in the same open collaborative way, using a technology that documents everyone’s input … first time in my career in a behind scenes development role that I’ve achieved such general agreement and total buy in to the open kindness ethos AND at the same time such a total practice the pedagogy you preach example – so excited to go to work at the moment ! …. in short, I totally acknowledge the influence of our Dave and all the other wonderfully open democratic Daves out there in this OpenEd movement that I’ve been learning about the past couple of years – you’re all bloody wonderful and are genuinely changing practices on the ground (under the ground) all over the world…. they say the largest living organism on earth is a rhizomatic fungus – well, I think we’re part of it 😉

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