Despite my poor Botanic knowledge, I need to visualize how rhizomatic learning might look like.

Beneath the surface, you see how all plants are connected. So if you are interested in one topic 1, you might need to learn about another ones 3 and 2 before. Imagine how you would pull out these topics.

Follow the blue arrows that depict your spreading interest. Then follow the red arrows how you would pull out the plants.


Just the other way around than in traditional learning.


Updated 2014-01-09: Sorry that my first attempt was incomprehensible. See also an older blog post about “pulling out a rhizome.

Additionally, you might imagine a lesson. It is all packaged, like the roots of a tree in the tree nursery school. And when the tree is advanced (to the next grade), the entire root ball is one distinct unit. (In German, this makes a nice pun, since the same word “versetzt” applies to both pupils and tree-school members).

Connectivist knowledge, by contrast, is entangled into dense context.
See also another older blog post about “rhizomes that cannot easily be pulled out without their neighboring ones“.

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4 Responses to Rhizome

  1. I am really fascinated by your images and discussion here. If I understand it correctly, you’re saying that since each topic is intricately connected (beneath the surface) with others, then you may have to learn about other things first before you can learn about the topic you’re really interested in, and so you have to kind of reverse the direction of pulling out the plants to get to the original one you were interested in. So you have to pull on plant 3 in one of the images above, which then pulls up the roots/rhizomes of plant 2, which then also pulls on the roots/rhizomes of plant 1. Is that it? But really, you’re coming at these topics from the bottom up, looking at their connections, rather than from the surface where they may seem disconnected.

    If I’m getting this correctly, it’s really intriguing, and I’ll have to think further about how it might apply in a particular case of learning.


  2. x28 says:

    Christina, yes exactly! It’s great to know that someone understands my graphic.


  3. htillber says:

    Thank you for sharing these images! On a comment elsewhere, I mentioned that I think of rhizomatic learning as an epistemological construct. When I look at the first image with the interconnected roots, that feels like it IS how people learn. The second graphic of traditional learning– I don’t think that really ever happens. At the same time, helping people focus on a clear goal is an important part of a traditional learning environment. How do we mold the constraints of traditional learning settings with the very individualized way that learner contextualize deep learning?


  4. x28 says:

    Heather, thanks for the difficult question. Since you acknowledge the “individualized way” of the learners, doesn’t this suggest already that your style will automatically cater better to both arborescent and rhizomatic styles?


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