Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deschooling Society: Introduction

Part 1. Why We Must Disestablish School

A great resource has been recently brought to my attention, and in (what I hope to be) a series of posts, I will explore the themes in the book, Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich. Here is the Wikipedia article about the book and author.

If you are unfamiliar with this work, you can read the full text online at the link above, or order a print copy of the book.

It was written in 1970, and it is amazing to me that many of the themes and principles in this book are things I have recognized to be true and which many in the greater non-schooling community have recognized to be true. The author sets forth a series of arguments that school is a institutionalized form of social control.

Will you join me and take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes?

Matrix, red pill or blue pill

How can I say that school doesn't work?

School is not good at doing what it was designed for.
We are in a post-industrial world and we have an pro-industrial education system. Those factory jobs are not coming back - the world needs Web Ninjas and Entrepreneurs - people who think outside the box, who color outside the lines, who don't sit still in class! School however demands uniformity, act this way, dress this way, think this way.

Unless you have joined the military or served time in jail, school may be the only time in your life when you are kept isolated with same-experienced peers (prisoners) and an adult/expert chaperoning your day (guard).

I say that I survived school.
I survived bullying in the elementary and middle school years, which included teacher bullying and domination as well as student physical and emotional bullying. I arrived at school with a desire to learn and an ability to read, and I kept that intact. I made it through high school and college, and still have that desire to learn.

School is not the great equalizer
"It should be obvious that even with schools of equal quality a poor child can seldom catch up with a rich one. Even if they attend equal schools and begin at the same age, poor children lack most of the educational opportunities which are casually available to the middle-class child. These advantages range from conversation and books in the home to vacation travel and a different sense of oneself, and apply, for the child who enjoys them, both in and out of school. So the poorer student will generally fall behind so long as he depends on school for advancement or learning."

The author calls for a flexible lifelong learning system, where people can take courses to learn skills throughout their lives. Need to learn more about blogging? Want to learn French? Take the courses you want in order to learn the skills you want, when you are ready to learn them. If the teacher is bad, drop out and ask for a refund! Take a course from a different teacher or in a different program. Imagine doing that in a compulsory elementary school:

"Excuse me Ms. Glidden, I don't like the way you are teaching this class, I'm going home now. I think I'll try second grade in the school down the road. Please send the refund to my home address. Bye!"

In my next segment, I will explore the value of education.

1 comment:

  1. lol. i love this. it is so very true. while in college you can do that, it is a shame that children in school can not. i have always thought that kids should be able to evaluate their teachers. and if they got alot of bad evals then they had to do a bit more training.
    although i find it interesting that most adults continue to educate themselves thru out their whole lives, not really taking classes, but reading, doing research, trying things out, etc and yet we feel that a child is incapable of doing that. like, they do not know enough to decide what to pick to focus on. well what make me better at it then say my 8 year old. is my desire to learn knitting greater then his desire to learn about bigfoot? he sure as heck is alot better at bigfoot info then i am at knitting.