Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Problem of Over-Coding Knowledge at School

The Bath (M.A. Reilly, 2013)

The point is that a rhizome or multiplicity never allows itself to be overcoded, never has available a supplementary dimension over and above its number of lines, that is, over and above the multiplicity of numbers attached to those lines.
 (Deleuze & Guatarri, 1987, p. 9)

As I read Mikael Holmqvist's (2003) "A Dynamic Model of Intra- and Interorganizational Learning" I was taken by his explanation of exploitation suggesting that as organizations "learn to refine their capabilities; they exploit their existing knowledge; they learn to focus their activities on certain domains; they learn what brings success and failure" (p. 99).  Exploitation is about making use of what has been. It's a means to stability, or at least the suggestion of stability.  Holmqvist tells us, "Exploitation is about creating reliability in experience. It means productivity, refinement, routinization, production, and elaboration of existing experiences (p. 99).

Schools, largely governed by imposed standards and high stakes testing, are most often places of exploitation.

These are spaces where clinging to past success as measured by state tests and avoiding failures as suggested by state testing results lead to an "elaboration of existing experiences."  How might we counteract such hegemony? Holmqvist recommends that organizations  "create variety in their experiences as well, by experimenting, innovating and taking risks" (p. 99). This is the process of exploration.

Schools are striated spaces in need of exploration--of lines of flight.

I think a lot about these potentially clear and striated spaces and the dynamic of lines of flight and over-coding that resituate space as being cleared and/or striated.

Building and collapsing.

Deleuze and Guattari (1987) help to name this potential tension between exploitation and exploration when they write:
It is not a question of this or that place on earth, or of a given moment in history, still less of this or that category of thought. It is a question of a model that is perpetually in construction or collapsing, and of a process that is perpetually prolonging itself, breaking off and starting up again (p. 20).
Breaking off.
Starting up again.

This rhizomatic world, Deleuze and Guattari suggest, is one where exploitation and exploration co-exist and how we shift and move between these spaces, reclassify and clear these spaces are worthy of our notice, our naming, our time.

Deleuze, Gilles & Felix Guattari. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Mineapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.
Holmqvist, Mikael. (2003).  A Dynamic Model of Intra- and Interorganizational Learning. Organization Studies 24(1): 95–123. 


  1. How can I think about that with the allure of the Fog and Light? I'd rather just ride my spirit horse into those spaces...and wish schools would too.

    1. Yes, the aesthetic needs to be valued. I had to climb through woods, tread into water (quite cold) to make that image on very early October morning. So glad it resinates.