Is Genius Hour a way to get into Rhizomatic Learning?

Of all the many different ideas, skills and tech that the Etmooc course has introduced me to, rhizomatic learning is the one that I have been thinking about- often. I had no idea rhizomatic learning even existed until we started discussing it as part of Etmooc.

Before I watched the Blackboard Collaborate session with Dave Cormier (You can access the recorded Blackboard collaborate session with Dave Cormier here.) I googled ‘Rhizomatic learning’ and found Dave Cormier’s blog “Dave’s Educational Blog” and did some reading. The idea of rhizomatic learning was making my brain hurt. (The last time my brain hurt like this was when I learnt about Inquiry learning with Lane Clark. I mowed lots of new neuron pathways that year!)

What on earth was it all about? Watching the recording helped me make sense of what I had read and the idea fascinated me. What on earth does it look like? How do you manage that style of learning/teaching in your classroom?

At the same time my brain was trying to process rhizomatic learning and find how it ‘fit’ with other ways of learning I knew about, I was reading lots about teachers who were using Genius Hour with their students. Last year I read Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” and loved the idea of giving staff members time to work on something they were passionate about. Now I was finding out that there were teachers out there using the idea with their students.

There are great blog entries out there about Genius Hour with lots of information to help get you started. I visited- Joy Kirr’s blog,  Denise Krebs Class blog and personal blog, Genius Hour wiki space,  Mrs T’s class blog,  It’s all about learning and Integrating technology, my journey.

This week my Grade 5/6 and I will experience our first Genius Hour. We had two planning sessions last week during which students needed to plan who they would work with, if anyone, what materials they would need and if there was anything they had to do before Genius Hour to be ready on the day. To say the students are excited and cannot wait for Genius Hour to arrive would be a major understatement!


I am wondering if Genius Hour is like a mini version of rhizomatic learning. Is this a way to get used to the idea of students driving their learning? Of the students saying to their teachers “ I know a bit about this but I really want to learn more.” And if this excitement and engagement happens with rhizomatic learning too then how do we get more of it happening in our classrooms?

What do you think? Do you have Genius Hour in your classroom and/or school? Are you a rhizomatic learning ‘oldie’ who can help a ‘newbie’ learn more? I’d love to hear from you.

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4 Responses to Is Genius Hour a way to get into Rhizomatic Learning?

  1. This sounds like a fantastic idea.

    I might incorporate this into my adult class this spring.

  2. Have been fascinated by that whole concept of “genius hour” and free time for employees to explore their own creative ideas ever since reading about the approach Google has taken; anyone interested in a broader overview that carries us back to much earlier versions will find a nice summary in Jeff Atwood’s “Lifehacker” piece, “Make Your Job Feel Like Work with ‘20% Time,'” which includes references to 3M’s and Hewlett-Packard’s approach: Does seem like a great way to encourage rhizomatic learning and, more importantly, the benefits that come from unrestricted exploration as an integral part of the learning and creative processes. Looking forward to updates on how your own genius hour works out with your learners.

    • crtavener says:

      Hi Paul, isn’t it great that there are so many workplaces and schools out there giving time to creativity when there are so many pressures from other sources to stick with the regimented program. Thanks for the link to the “Lifehacker” piece, looking forward to reading it. I’ll definitely post info about our genius hour, I don’t know who is more excited about it, me or the students.

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