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Deschooling Society [Format Kindle]

Ivan Illich

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The book is a critical discourse on education as practised in "modern" economies. Full of detail on contemporary programs and concerns, the book remains as radical today. Giving examples of the ineffectual nature of institutionalized education, Illich posited self-directed education, supported by intentional social relations, in fluid informal arrangements.
“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.”
Illich describes much of what we’ve seen come to pass with the internet and social networks (even if he does speak in terms of telephones and postal mail) and even mentions in passing game-based learning. His prescription however, is radical and thought-provoking: do away with schools entirely, and replace them with learning networks.
“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”.
This sentence makes clear what the title suggests — that the institutionalization of education tends towards the institutionalization of society and that ideas for de-institutionalizing education may be a starting point for a de-institutionalized society.
“The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.”
The book is more than a critique - it contains suggestions for a reinvention of learning throughout society and lifetime. In the direction of a real learning to what the individual and community needs.

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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  30 commentaires
65 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deschool Your Mind. 10 avril 2000
Par David Culp - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is one of those books that will change the way you see the world and yourself. It's difficult for us who were "successful" in government schools to look back at the process objectively, to remember the wasted time, the cartoonish simplification of everything, and the process' lack of applicability to our lives. You may need this book to help you reconsider that which has become so large a part of your own feeling of self-worth. You will then see why it is almost impossible to discuss true school reform with people - they still have their blinders on.
94 internautes sur 99 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deschooling blasts the contemporary idolatry of "education" 21 juillet 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is a heartfelt series of essays that illuminate the nature of learning and the perverse consequences of professionally imposed schooling requirements. Far from the assumed engine of equality, modern schooling promotes inequality and social stratification. It's powerful and graded liturgy convinces the majority of people that their inferior status derives from a failure to consume sufficient quantities of expensive educational services. Illich links schooling and modern ideas of education to the belief in endless progress and the ultimate abolition of "Necessity." What starts out as a program in humanism ends up as a formula for the destruction of what it is to be human.
This is a book about aliveness.
75 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 These 120 pages will alter your perceptions 29 juin 2000
Par "-nicole-" - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I read this book 10 years ago and still find myself thinking about it.
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.
27 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Brilliant Founding Book of the Homeschooling Movement 17 juin 2007
Par R. Schultz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book is on my list of "The Ten Best." It does more than brilliantly advocate a turn away from education as an institutional product. It speaks for the adoption of a whole new worldview.

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. Now we all wait on deliverance of those goods and services. So instead of bouncing out into the world thinking, "Whee - what can I LEARN today?" - a typical child soon settles into the dry demand of, "I NEED an EDUCATION." The active doing of "to learn" becomes the passive wanting of schooling. In an exactly parallel way, the child's once exuberant cry of "Whee - where can I GO today?" has become the perennially pouty, "I NEED WHEELS." And our whole society has been shaped into the circular driveway of requiring and accommodating only that latter demand.

Many of Illich's suggestions for creating an alternate environment conducive to learning rather than to being taught - were not particularly realistic, especially in the 1970s when this book first became popular. For example, some the computer-facilitated "learning exchanges" he advocated were attempted, but usually soon degenerated into casual meet-markets. Today, with the much broader scope of computer networking, the possibilities for some true learning interchanges to take place through that medium are much better. However Illich's ideas about apprenticeships and the like may still be hard to implement in our world, where so much of people's imagination and energy remains invested in standard educational institutions.

But however practical or impractical Illich's solutions may prove to be - his posing of the problem has the capacity to expand your thinking into an alternate universe. Then you might want to go on to read his critiques of our transportation industry, and of our health care system in such books as "Medical Nemesis."
25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Whatever You Conclude, This Book Makes Us Think about Things Often Taken for Granted. 21 novembre 2011
Par Kevin Currie-Knight - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I have a love/hate relationship with Ivan Illich's book "Deschooling Society" (and several other of his works). At the same time, and maybe for that reason, it is also one of the most read books in my collection. Before explaining my ambivalence, a brief summary of the book is due:

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. Instead of compulsory schooling, where students are alienated from their educations by leaving determination of what they should know to state-credentialed teachers and administrators (bureacurats, actually), Illich suggests that schooling relations should be convivial - where, like parks, roads, and libraries, individuals produce and consume them in ways that do not force anyone to submit to anyone else's purpose. First, these would not be compulsory. Second, they would allow students and teachers (who are not limited to those the state certifies as teachers, because there isn't reason to suppose the state knows what makes a teacher better than individuals do) to come together for mutual benefit. The second to last chapter details four types of convivial 'learning webs' that could accomplish this goal (such as allowing teachers, students, and peers to advertise on community bulletin boards in order to come together for shared purposes).

Like I said, I have a love/hate relationship with this book. First, the good. It is very obvious that Illich is concerned first and foremost about human liberty, which he thinks is constantly violated when we compel students and families to consume one, and only one, state-approved type of education. Second, Illich is very astute in his identification of schooling as a self-perpetuating thing: a large reason people consume 12 and more years of education is the simple fact that others find value in it. Employers require schooling, even when it is a questionable assumption that many of the things learned there actually contribute to work success. And as more people get more schooling, everyone else feels like they have to as well, just to stay afloat. Reading this book will make you appreciate exactly how ultimately vacuous this whole process is.

Now, for the hate. I can only describe Illich as an anti-industrialist in the Rousseauean vain. Many passages in this and other works romanticize the pre-industrial age, quite wrongly, as an age where largely self-sufficient man was able to provide for his needs quite well, where all his needs could be satisfied within a short radius, where humans did productive work (as opposed to unproductive work, like building cars and advertising campaigns), etc. Part of his criticism of schooling is that it fosters a division of labor that leaves folks alienated from real, purposive labor while encouraging unnecessary consumption. Now, I for one would point out that while the division of labor comes with downsides, it also comes with amazing upsides, such as allowing people to do what they have a talent for and focusing, rather than each doing that which they have to for brute survival, regardless of their interest or talent. (For someone who is so libertarian, it is strange that the increase in choice for individuals of career paths is an advantage of division of labor lost on Illich). And as for romanticizing the days where satisfying survival needs were enough to fill human life with purpose? I will take our age over the pre-industrial age anyway (and am quite glad I live past 30, and most of my money is spent making my life more comfortable rather than on brute survival. I suspect most of Illich's readers do too, at least secretly).

Also, I just am not convinced that Illich isn't ignoring or not seeing some of the positives of organized schools. First, while authoritarianism is not a good thing, sometimes authority is, because we can rightly question whether if left to their own, those without 'cultural capital' are necessarily the best judges of exactly what education their children should receive. Second, while it would be interesting to have everyone choose exactly what they learn and how (as in the bulletin-board idea, where people learn by signing up to teach or learn with like-minded others), that is an extraordinary amount of leg work. Isn't there something to be said for an organized place where there are proscribed curricula, such that individuals can leave the minutiae of educational planning up to others? (By analogy, I can pick out all the parts of my computer - mouse, keyboard, CPU, speakers, etc) separately, but might it just be more efficient for me to buy a 'package' so that those who know best what goes with what can do the coordinating?) Lastly, while it is possible that the family will know better than any expert how to educate their children, there is something to be said the other way: the expert may be neutral where the parent is biased, the expert may have the benefit of seeing more possibilities than the parent sees, etc. (By the way, in subsequent works, Illich said he never meant to imply that schools be abolished or had no place, but if this is true, then 'Deschooling Society' was a most unfortunate title.)

Anyway, for all that, I still HIGHLY recommend this book, if only because it makes us think about things we often take for granted. I myself am a libertarian whose chief concern is education's compulsory aspects, and the virtual government monopoly on schooling. I see no necessary problem with schooling, as Illich does, and suspect that even if education were not compulsory, a great many families would still choose some form of (so-called) traditional schooling, largely because there may be more to be said for it than Illich thinks. But read and decide for yourself. Is Illich an architect of the golden path, or a utopian (it is doubtful you'll find him 'middle of the road')? He's been called all of it. What do you think?
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