Monday, February 23, 2009

Noted: Ivan Illich

From Deschooling Society (thanks to Stan Goff for the pointer):
The American university has become the final stage of the most all-encompassing initiation rite the world has ever known. No society in history has been able to survive without ritual or myth, but ours is the first which has needed such a dull, protracted, destructive, and expensive initiation into its myth. The contemporary world civilzation is also the first one which has found it necessary to rationalize its fundamental initiation ritual in the name of education. We cannot begin a reform of education unless we first understand that neither individual learning nor social equality can be enhanced by the ritual of schooling. We cannot go beyond the consumer society unless we first understand that obligatory public schools inevitably reproduce such a society, no matter what is taught in them.

Labels: , , ,


OpenID youthtopias said...

I had the good fortune to take a couple classes with Illich. His books that have stuck with me most are Deschooling Society and Medical Nemesis, though a number of his other books are easily striking and provocative as well (ABC..., H2O..., Tools...).

I incorporated some of the thought of Deschooling Society into a dystopia of schooling, Youthtopia - including some direct quotes footnoted to the fiction. Youthtopia is excerpted at the link, though not any of the chapters with the DS footnotes:

Similarly with this story "Schooled" - and other shorts on schooling - none of which any "school" (or commercial) journal has been willing to publish:

March 03, 2009 3:59 AM  
Blogger stuart said...

Hurray for that quote! Been meaning to read Illich for many years, and now I think I might...

March 04, 2009 9:39 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

Deschooling Society has several other excellent observations, which I hope to quote here. But overall, frankly, I was disappointed in the book. It's really dated. I was hoping for more investigation into the wrongness of school, and how that affects society, but he spends a lot of time on suggestions for change, which seem wildly fanciful, and/or outdated, at this late date (40 years later).

March 04, 2009 9:52 AM  
Blogger Anirudh said...

I suggest you read some of John Holt's books -- Freedom and Beyond; Instead of Education; Escape from Childhood. What I like about Holt is that he functioned both philosophically and practically - that is, even as he wrote his books, he was working towards the change he advocated in them. He wasn't entirely successful, of course. Many of the suggestions in his books are radical and he failed often when he tried them. But he didn't give up and just continue writing books but tried different methods of implementing his ideas. Some of his suggestions may also seem fanciful now but he gives examples of where and how many of them have worked.

March 09, 2009 12:19 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home