From Deschooling Society

“We need research on the possible use of technology to create institutions which serve personal, creative, and autonomous interaction and the emergence of values which cannot be substantially controlled by technocrats.” (p.2. Note: Teachers who do only what they are trained to do without thinking too much about why they are doing it are to be considered technocrats.)

“Rich and poor alike depend on schools and hospitals which guide their lives, form their world view, and define for them what is legitimate and what is not.  Both view doctoring oneself as irresponsible, learning on one’s own unreliable, and community organization, when not paid for by those in authority, as a form of aggression or subversion.” (Hence, the publication around the same time Illiach was writing, of the title Teaching as a Subversive Activity). p.2 

“A second major illusion on which the schools system rests is that most learning it the result of teaching.  Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances.  But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside schools, and in school only insofar as school as school, in a few rich countries, has become their place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives.” p. 12.

“Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school; when challenged, they easily discard this illusion.” p. 13 (It is Wayne O’Neil who speaks of the problem with the kind of reading instruction that occurs in the schools.  He says that schools produce illiterate literates who can read the words on the page but cannot read well the meanings those words represent.  I think that there is good evidence to suggest that good numbers of citizens of this United States qualify as illiterate literates.  They listen to those to whom they choose to listen and then buy the bumper stickers that say such things as “Rush is right” or what Fox News reports is what is true. (Reading, of course, is about how one is able to understand what is being said, no matter the medium).

And lastly:

“Education can be the outcome of instruction, though instruction, though instruction of a kind fundamentally opposed to drill.  It relies on the relationship between partners who already have some of the keys which give access to merits stored in and by the community.  It relies on the critical intent of all those who use memories creatively.  It relies on the surprise of the unexpected question which opens new doors for the inquirer and his partner.”  p. 17


By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

One reply on “Illich”

To me the most obvious thing which should occur to anyone who has attended the public school system and the post graduate and graduate institutions around us has to accept the fact that most of what they have been taught is forgotten. To a large degree our education system is about memorization; one reads the book, takes notes and takes the test which test what one holds in one’s memory. Three months later, after cramming for a test and passing, most students will have forgotten a large degree of the memorized material! Why do our institutions teach this way?

It seems to me that most post high school institutions of learning have become about money—give us your money and we will give you a degree. And the public school system for our children is only slightly different—give us your children and we will keep them busy while you make money. On the one hand we have institutions which are trying to increase their budgets as it concerns profits, and on the other hand we have institutions having their budgets cut as it concerns those who wish to not have their profits decreased by the taxes which must fund the public schools. The goal of these institutions—regardless of mission statements and what those involved think—is monetary. One is about pure profits and the other is about keeping children busy as monetarily efficient as possible while the parents can earn money. These institutions are a product of the capitalistic system to which they belong. So, primarily, these institutions are not about making intelligent and humane human beings; they are about money because they are run and driven by capitalism.

There was an ancient humanitarian who said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Apply this to the situation we have presently in our country, and the result is that we have a moral dilemma. Are we going to concern ourselves with profits or with what is humane? An example of how twisted our thinking can get is our military involvement. Are the wars we are presently in about freedom and democracy? No, they are about money and securing valuable resources—no matter how many innocent people die. Are our schools about teaching our children how to think? No, they are either about making money or conserving money—no matter how brainwashed the students turn out. To me the question is not primarily about quality (although the question concerns quality); the question is primarily a moral one. Are we going to be driven by monetary concerns or humanitarian concerns?

Debate is welcome.

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