Friday, September 5, 2014

Using Lines of Flight to Create Clear Spaces in Standards-Based Curriculum

At the Edge of a Dream (M.A. Reilly,  2009)

How might lines of flight de/colonize classrooms?

Deleuze and Guattari suggest that new ideas need “clear space”in which to establish a foothold. This is a space devoid of the old rules, regulations, norms, and practices associated with the existing ideas. The new assemblage needs to be differentiated from other competing or existing assemblages. This process of opening up clear space is termed “deterritorialization” and is followed by a process of “reterritorializing” where new rules are coded for the new concept. To dominate effectively, there is a need to cut off a return to old methods, processes, practices, etc., thereby preventing the old practices re-imposing themselves over the new. The escape from “striated space” (deterritorialization) to “clear space” is known as a “line of flight” (p.163). 
Michael Reardon,  Louis Sanzogni, and Arthur Poropat, 2005/2006

I have been fascinated by the idea of lines of flight as a means to de/colonize classrooms for some time. I appreciate the explanation offered by Reardon, Sanzogni, and Poropat (2005/2006) about the relationship between clear space and lines of flight and wonder how clear space might be introduced into standards-based classrooms as an initial method to open curriculum and pedagogy to possibilities.  These methods are lines of flight. 

Deleuze and Guattari's notion of concept creation is one way that space can be cleared in a more deterministic curriculum, such as those that are standards-based. Diana Masny (2012) explains that

Concept creation is precisely creating concepts to push thinking beyond what is assumed or given, to what could be. One way in which Deleuze and Guattari go about doing concept creation involves a process of territorialization, deterritorialization and reterritorialization. (p.9)
So concept creation asks us to take a concept and to look beyond the prescribed meaning. As Claire Colebrook (2001) explains:

Concepts are not amenable to dictionary style definition, for their power lies in being open and expansive. For this reason, we have to understand them through the new connections they make (p.17).
It is the new connections to be made that allow for space to be opened. Further, creating concepts is most often linked with problem finding. Again Masny explains:

Concept creation is the result of looking at a problem/paradox to see how it functions and what it can produce (not solve). What problems produce is the creation of concepts. And the creation of concepts allows us to think differently about a problem (p.180).
Thinking differently is an outcome of creating concepts. Gilles Deleuze in Difference & Repetition notes:

For learning evolves entirely in the comprehension of problems … learning to swim or learning a foreign language means composing the singular points of one’s own body or one’s own language with those of another shape or element which tears us apart but also propels us into a hitherto unknown and unheard-of world of problems. To what are we dedicated if not to those problems which demand the very transformation of our body and our language? (p. 192, as quoted in Masny & Cole, p. 180). 

What is the problem in learning to do X? Encountering another leads to disruption or as Deleuze and Guatttari would name, deterritorialization. Deterritorialization opens a line of flight to a world of uncertainty and in doing so provides an opportunity "to disrupt overcoded learning and teaching practices" (Masny & Cole, p.181) such as the curriculum that yielded from state and national standards.

The rhizome is in motion.

Works Cited

Colebrook, Claire. (2001). Gilles Deleuze. New York: Routledge.

Deleuze, Gilles.  (1995). Difference and Repetition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Masny, Diana &Cole, David R. (2012). Mapping Multiple Literacies: An Introduction to Deleuzian Literacy Studies.  New York" Continuum.

Reardon, Michael, Sanzogni, Louis and Arthur Poropat. (2005/2006). Towards a rhizomatic method for knowledge management. International Journal of the Management, 5 (5), 159-168.

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