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Deschooling Society (Open Forum S) Paperback – July 1, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a book about aliveness.
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.
The first two chapters attempt to outline the problem(s). Schooling, Illich writes, is failing to do what it promised - to educate in any broad sense, to bring up the poor and better their condition, to do any of this without ever-growing bureaucracies and ballooning budgets. In fact, formal schooling has become a largely self-perpetuating juggernaut that seems more content with perpetuating a belief in its necessity than actually facilitating learning (learning, of course, being defined as something a bit broader than just absorbing the teachings of credentialed teachers).
The next few chapters discuss schooling and its relation to what Illich sees as a culture that ritualizes progress, materialism, and consumption/production. Schooling, he argues, is a coercive institution whose job is largely to create people who are told their place (whether as worker or consumer) and can handle/are okay with leaving authority to others (in schooling, the teaching is always up to the designated teacher; students are there to listen).
The last three chapters outline Illich's attempts at a solution. Here he draws on his ideal of convivial institutions that will be the full subject of his subsequent book Tools for Conviviality.Read more ›
Illich eshews the usual reformers' clichés about our need for more schools, more school funding, etc., etc. He is much more radical and deep than that. He sometimes quotes and is often categorized with "deconstructionist" philosophers such as Foucault. However Illich is a thousand times more accessible and grounded than Foucault. And if after reading Illich, you feel the need for even more grounded advice about the benefits of homeschooling, I highly recommend you read the works of John Holt, starting perhaps with his "How Children Learn" and "How Children Fail." Holt brings the philosophy of homeschooling down to the everyday and individual.
But Illich looks at the big picture - at how our lives have been hijacked by a consumer mentality. It's not that he's giving suggestions about how schools could be improved. It's not that he's advocating any adjustments to our current teaching methods at all, and he's certainly not giving directions on how to transplant the pedagogical tools of the school into the "safer" environment of the home. It's that he's against the whole IDEA of schools and teaching in the first place. But wait! Before you gasp and turn away, read further.
Perhaps the most telling summary of his global objection lies in his pages on how schooling converts verbs into nouns in our lives. The modern mandatory educational system is created by and in turn promotes a constant reification, a constant restructuring of every intangible human capacity into a tangible need - into a consumer demand for service to be supplied by some institutional provider.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed reading this book. Ivan Illich offers these amazingly insightful ideas that would be considered radical by most of my peers who have grown up in the public school... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Evan Le
This is a refreshing idea. This society's emphasis on education has created a society of mind-numb robots all following along in a zombie like fashion. Read morePublished 18 months ago by coconutcreamcare
Still relevant today after all these years. It's as if society deliberately went the opposite way of what Illich suggested.Published 21 months ago by Benjamin Douglass
Amazing how Ivan saw all of this in 1970. Amazingly dense and clear writing. A rich perspective on our modern issues.Published on May 20, 2014 by Robert M Duggan