Funding, Ivan Illich, Schooling, Schools, State Schools

Reflections on Illich 13: The messianic character of mainstream Western schooling

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

”The most important role of schools is to create jobs for accredited teachers, no matter what their pupils learn from them” (p. 31).   “The school teacher is a ‘secular priest’” (p. 32).

In his book, The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education, Rousas J. Rushdoony (1963) traced the educational development in the West that established schools as the new church in society, and identified ignorance (of political correctness) as being the new sin that children must be saved from.  He strongly argued that the priests and priestesses of the new church are the teachers that indoctrinate in these schools.  Illich summarised this idea by saying that,”(t)he school teacher is a ‘secular priest'”.

On the other hand, schools are structured to meet the educational needs of one kind of child, and that is the child with the orientation to aural/oral/visual learning.  This excludes a lot of boys (and some girls) who are tactile/kinaesthetic learners.  It is the aural/oral/visual learners who make the best teachers, and the tactile/kinaesthetic learners are not catered for adequately, if at all, in the schooling process.  Therefore, the children who get the most out of schools and schooling are those who are destined to become the teachers in the schools.  Hence Ilich’s comment that “(t)he most important role of schools is to create jobs for accredited teachers, no matter what their pupils learn from them”. 

Schooling is a huge industry that consumes inordinate amounts of public money.  The evidence strongly suggests that the more public money directed towards schooling, the worse the outcomes from schools are.  Hattie (2011) wrote:

Funding in the Australian school education sector increased by 41% between 1995 and 2006 ([EOCD], 2007) but student performance stagnated in mathematics and significantly declined in reading (Thompson, 2008).  In Australia, Jensen, Reichl and Kemp (2011) estimated that per student expenditure increased by over 17 per cent during the studied decade, while student performance declined by 2.5 per cent, equivalent to about one-third of a year of schooling.  They noted substantial variation between states, with the decline in performance in the ACT being over 50 per cent of the national average and the rise in expenditure being double the national average.  They identified the largest increase in expenditure as being due to reduced student-teacher ratios, driven by class size reductions–with there not being an increase in teacher salaries over the identified period (p. 5).

Government certification processes and Union protection of teachers, has ensured that very few teachers, once in the classroom, can be removed.  Incompetence in performance is covered by the smoke-screen of clamoring for more and more government money to be spent on the schooling juggernaut.  Decline in educational outcomes is blamed on government economic rationalism.

Schools are not the temples of secular salvation.  Education cannot save us.  There is only one name given among men whereby which we must be saved, and that is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Mums and dads, lead your children to the only wise God our Saviour.  He, and He alone, is the only hope of salvation in this life and in the life to come.

 

Hattie, J. (2011). Leaders Exert More Power When They Control the Topics of Educational Debates (Vol. 59). Adelaide, South Australia: ACEL.

Rushdoony, R. J. (1963). The Messianic Character of American Education: Studies in the History of the Philosophy of Education. Nutley, New Jersey: The Craig Press.

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One thought on “Reflections on Illich 13: The messianic character of mainstream Western schooling

  1. ronald slyderink says:

    Interesting interpretation and assessment by Illich. I tend to agree and I totally agree with the last paragraph about the Lordship of Jesus over education and the salvation he brings. The fatal flaw and weakness in any educational system is to neglect and ignore God and Jesus Christ, who is the only foundation being the way, the truth and the life.

    Like

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