Talk:Ivan Illich: Deschooling Society/Introduction

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Reimer, dillema of schooling[edit source]

Reimer talks of schooling/education as a 'logistical' dillema. This discourse still remains strong the narratives and strategies of international organisations like UNESCO and Education for All (part of the Millenium Development Goals) and is interestingly enough, in the context of this discussion taking place in Wikiversity, also a prevalent discourse in COLs stated vision for WikiEducator, another large scale wiki for education. What about the numbers here? The logistics of 'schooling' are, 30 years on, still stacked against universal education, yet the dream of alternative modes of education are still strong. And, seeing as we're here ... can wikis and such distributed participatory communities like these ever help to reconcile this dillema? (I'm sure we'll return to this wiki theme endlessly -- there's no real worth in hiding our own discursive game I suppose.) Countrymike 09:25, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

I think the chapter on "Learning Webs" goes some way towards addressing this concern Country. So its not so much a question on wikis for learning, but on the structures and developmental approaches that these wiki projects are taking. I think this discussion is a good example of a deschooled use of a wiki - although there is a fair bit of schooled structure in it already - such as studying the chapters linearly, and deconstructing the content such as linking to the names mentioned etc. Don't get me wrong, I think deconstructing is very useful and it will help me discover aspects to Deschooling that I was not aware of.. I spose I'm just pointing out the possible schooled elements of our behaviour here.
Seeing as we are looking at the people mentioned in the intro, I think it would be worth reading the memoirs from people who knew Illich - Remembering Illich. For me, understanding Deschooling is as important as understanding Illich --Leighblackall 03:31, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Leigh: Thanks for the Remembering Illich link; some moving accounts of the man and his life by some close friends, I recommend that people take a moment to read it if they can. Interesting to note his emphasis on "friendship" and the power of conversations between friends, over food and wine. The wiki can facilitate the first, but we're a bit lacking in the last two round here unfortunately ... oh well, we can only hope to all meet sometime at a Wikimania ... not that you and I haven't already shared a bit of the latter in regards to these things. I also felt that the accounts go some ways to explaining Illich's style -- which I must say in this first chapter kind of confuses me; its as if his mind is all over the place from one moment to the next! ... but i'm hoping that upcoming chapters go some way towards unpacking some of the myriad thoughts he's raised so far. As far as being "schooled" ... yes, highly. Horrible grey uniforms and all, I once poetically described my schooling as being like "lemmings" (even though the part of the lemming myth i was referring to is mostly just that ... but you get the point). Are you suggesting that the book should/could be read non-sequentially? Countrymike 21:41, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I think I am Country.. perhaps though, only after reading a bit about his life. But I can't be sure - having read it sequentially at first myself. How about you or someone fresh to Illich give it a go and report back? In saying all this though, it is a pretty short read all up. Especially if we consider how profound a proposal it is. --Leighblackall 23:25, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
I just started reading this and have only finished the introduction. I was already considering skipping ahead to a chapter that deals with what to do to deinstitutionalize learning, so I have no problem with consciously choosing to read it out of sequence and report back. For the record, I have read things out of sequence before with no trouble, but they were not so dense and complex as this, and I already had some knowledge about the things I was reading before I began.
I think that even my presence here shows one strength wikis have in terms of learning & discussion- all the discussion on this page is months old, and yet I can come here and read it and contribute and hopefully inspire someone to come back and revisit these ideas. --Luai lashire 22:37, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
Luai, i think you're right, and this is one of the reasons that I think that reading groups will work quite well in Wikiversity in that they can be useful over long periods of time as discussions and notes on the texts get built up. In regards to reading Illich out of sequence ... I think a lot of people find chapter 6, Learning Webs to be quite relevant to todays learning environments. I haven't got there yet but hope to soon. Countrymike 07:26, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Mike, I just finished reading Learning Webs. My initial thoughts (while not very extensive or deep) are on the discussion page for that chapter, if you'd like to read them. I did find that it was easy to understand what was going on in that chapter, so I think it would be pretty easy to read the book out-of-order and understand it. I'll continue to read it that way and see if the other chapters stand on their own as well. --Luai lashire 01:18, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

The crux of the argument[edit source]

"Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue's responsibility until it engulfs his pupils' lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education — and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries."

What is meant by universal education is essentially access to education.. it is the same challenge that Wikieducator has set out to help solve, but read on and I think we see that Illich is rejecting even the Wikieducator model... "It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions... new attitudes... educational [technologies].. or [holistic learning]". What is the institutional inverse? We get an idea of Illich's straight out aversion to institutionalisation when we read Remembering Illich. But what is the inverse to institutionalised learning? and would Illich be satisfied with small scale de-institutionalisation, or would he only rest when it was all undone, including "other established service industries"? To answer his own challenge, Illich proposes educational webs - or in chapter 6 Learning Webs, and this is where I think the social web aligns with Illich. But already we are witnessing the potential institutionalisation of this as well! Perhaps Wikieducator AND Wikiversity are playing into this process!? --Leighblackall 04:03, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

What is the use of access to education, if students can't learn any skills that are needed for their working carreers?--Daanschr 14:28, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I learnt little over my entire schooling (thru university) that directly related to the "skills" used in my career. Most of what was required for my work has been self-taught while on the job and continues to be so. Illich considers school to be completely "inefficient" in skill instruction because it is tied to a curriculum and he suggests that the development of skills would be better served by a system that matched skilled instructors with those wishing to acquire similar knowledge and experience. Countrymike 20:40, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
My halfbrother spend his childhood in Tanzania and lives there at present. He said that very simple tasks like vacuum cleaning can't be done by those who are unschooled in Tanzania. A friend of his runs one hotel in England and another in Tanzania. In England he needed a staff of 6 people, while in Tanzania for a similar hotel, a staff of 100. That hasn't got to do with race, because when African people are decently educated, they can become doctors and lawyers and start working in the west to earn a better wage. General obligatory education, but also having smart parents and a lot of equipment at home, are vital for a good childhood. Deschooling means making people stupid. Stupidity causes poverty.
Vital skills are: being able to analyse complex information, learning several languages in a complex way (large amount of words + complex grammer), learning to be self-disciplined (being at school fulltime and making homework in the evening), learning to read books and write papers, learning to do several tasks after eachother. It is the development of the brain to adapt to complex circumstances that is at stake. I have the impression that Illich wants to live in a simple society, well go to Africa than, or to the Siberian countryside. There you can live a simple life like a true hippie. Join the neocons or the christians with their crazy simple ideologies. A school is for learning to critically examine. (Sorry, for the overheated debatingstyle, i am really anti-Illich)--Daanschr 21:13, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
The words of which i am the most scepticle are these: I had never questioned the value of extending obligatory schooling to all people. Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school. The main reason why schooling needs to be obligatory, in my view, is that people hardly do anything without coercion. In our overpopulated world, there need to be coercion, to ensure that students perform to the minimum requirements. I have no believe that people will perform without any coercion. Skills that are necessary for society to continue will dissapear, which results into widespread poverty. Poverty leads to violence and the overthrow of governments. But, governments will never accept the deterioration of education, except when these governments don't care for their own population, or have crazy communist or neoconservative ideas.--Daanschr 14:26, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Daanschr: Sorry to see that you have left the project; it seems to me that there may be some real insights in Illich about Wikiversity itself perhaps further into the text, as Leigh has suggested. I'm hesitant to accept your 'coercion' thesis, and *I* read Illich's quote to mean that obligatory attendance in school often curtails the potential to learn from other organizations, social structures, or settings because we just accept, somewhat unquestioningly, that learning takes place only in the school setting. Countrymike 07:25, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
I have the impression that schools are intended to ensure that people learn basic skills to function properly in the society. Of course learning takes place anywhere in society. Illich just presumes that we accept at presently that learning only takes place at schools. That is one in many presumptions of Illich, in which i don't agree with him.
It could be that Illich has some suggestions that might be welcome for Wikiversity, but i don't like the words he uses (like concentration camps) to make his point. So, i prefer to discard his text entirely and occupy myself with other texts.--Daanschr 08:59, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
Seems to me that you are occupying yourself with this text though Daanschr... right here with us :) thanks to you, we are not going one way in our thoughts about this. I think much of what you say is well founded, and I hope we can find other more concentrated critiques of Deschooling along the lines that you express. In your example you refer to Tanzania. I think this is interesting, because Illich spent most of his working live in Bolivia. Completely different contexts, but both you and Illich refer to the needs of people in developing or impoverished economies to justify your positions.
For me, I have little to no experience in economies like that, so I look to Illich's Deschooling through the lens of so called developed or enriched economies. I suspect that people in such privilege have more to gain from Deschooling ideas.. mainly because we have new technologies that afford some efficiencies and measurable effectiveness to Illich's proposed socially networked learning...
Also, you mention ...necessary for society to continue... to justify coercion and lock-step models of learning. Perhaps then we ought to consider Illich's critique on society just as much as school. To be fair to his ideas, he is not only referring to the ills of school. --Leighblackall 23:38, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
Illich's ideas on schooling are predetermined by his perspective on society. His perspective on society is a radical utopian one, in my view. And i oppose it. I don't believe that a society without coercion is possible and even desirable.
A problem with the text of Illich is his continuous use of moral statements in order to justify his views. He wants to achieve a certain utopia and describes the ills of society and his preferable solutions. For me it would be very hard to discuss such a text, since i have to resort to continuously problematizing the statements Illich makes.--Daanschr 08:17, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
Daanschr, I know it's been months since your comment, but I was just wondering what you would say to this: That perhaps the coercions don't have to be as blatant and obvious as a law requiring one to attend school. Let's say I'm living in a deschooled society. I need food to survive, and for that, here, I need money. To get money I have to perform some kind of job. I happen to be good with my hands, so I decide to learn to make furniture to make a living. There. I don't even need to discuss how one would learn woodworking for the purposes of this argument. If you read what I have said, you will see that a decision to learn was made, and it was caused by the need or desire for money. To be honest, people are very greedy, and if they can understand on any level, even as basic as what I said above, that a skill will result in money, that will be all the reason they need. It even works in a barter system- a skill provides something to trade- or a very basic society where there is no currency- a skill helps you get food.
It might be more difficult to get people to learn more complicated skills, like science, but I suspect not. My little brother taught himself engineering; I taught myself basic ornithology. It's hard to do when you're in school, but driven people will do it anyway, because to them the process of learning and the acquisition of knowledge are the reward. Less driven people might filter into the more basic roles and more driven people into the more complex ones. It's all speculation, though. Thoughts? --Luai lashire 22:50, 2 January 2008 (UTC)