on December 19, 2002
....and the 'Important People' of the world refuse to listen to you, you *must* be telling the truth.
Illich died this month. Maybe someone will come along and champion some of his many ideas and causes. But some of the things he has been talking about--the structuring of education in this world is ineffective for actual learning, but is designed for the maintaining of class strata, and that the rich gets the best schooling because they pay for it (not saying that they are exceptionally talented or intellectual or anything more than mediocre) has been debated for years and will be debated for years. Subtexted to his arguments is that the rich needs the poor to help define themselves. And any time 'the institution'
gets fired up about improving the conditions for the mass culture, it end up achieving the opposite effect, as the reviewer below noted. To me, this is reminescent of those two dystopia novels we were forced to read in high school, "1984" and "Brave New World" (somewhere there's a great irony in my feeling this way).
Anyway, Illich, even though he was an academician, became a great human rights advocate and champion of the poor and downtrodden all around the world. This great work of his should be read by anyone who believes in truth and freedom.
on May 27, 2004
I don't totally agree that we should get rid of schools completely, but what Illich recommends should be a 'valid' way to learn. That is, we should be able to do what is now technologically feasible, which is to have networks of people with common interests who can communicate with each other (through mail, email, etc) and decide when/where they will meet to discuss something. An example he gives is a guitar teacher posting their contact information & availability somewhere, and someone interested in learning to play the guitar contacting them. Simple as that, and it would be a similar situation with anything. I think something like that could happen in a school environment, which is where I don't really agree with Illich, but the system would have to be changed radically for it to be possible. I don't think it would matter whether schools 'stay' in society but with a totally different system where students are encouraged to question everything & do what they're comfortable with, or done away with altogether though. Such an education situation wouldn't last long in a society based on authoritarian hierarchic institutions.
on April 25, 2000
In "Deschooling Society" Ivan Illich debunks the many myths of schooling - including that most learning is a result of teaching - stating that a majority of people acquire most of their insight, knowledge, and skill outside of school. Advocating educational freedom over obligatory graded curriculums, Illiich maintains that the social and psychological destruction inherent in obligatory schooling is an illustration of the destruction implicit in all international institutions which now dictate the kinds of goods, services, and welfare available to satisfy basic human needs. Illich maintains that the deschooling of society is merely part of a larger quest for the reestablishment of society's control over their community and environment. "Deschooling Society" is a monumental literary achievement, inspiring and profound in its message of humanitarian social activism.
on June 29, 2000
I read this book 10 years ago and still find myself thinking about it.
If you're looking for material that will justify your worst suspicions as to the actual effectiveness of modern schooling while inspiring in you a desire for change, you're on the right track. But be warned. This book is far more than an essay on the failings of our educational system.
Education is merely the author's proving ground for one simple premise: it is the nature of the institution to produce the opposite of itself. This basic paradigm may be applied to any institutionalized need. You'll find yourself analyzing the role of healthcare in well-being, financial services in prosperity, the food industry in nutrition, and so on...
Find this book and buy it.
on March 3, 2003
Illich's goal was society not schools. He saw schools as perpetuating the status quo. This, and his other books, promotied living a convivial life. This is, one in harmonious collaboation with other people. Schooling, whether state, free, or home schooling, removes young peole from their families, their community, society and nature. Illich was for living convivially and simply in the "vernacular." That is with friends, community and the actual world that surrounds you and with the natural abilities with which you are endowed.
That is the kind of life promoted today by the book "Creating Learning Communities," Ron Miller, ed.