Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC. Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html
p. 48 “School either keeps people for life or makes sure that they will fit into some institution.”
I have finally left school. I am nearly 58 years of age. The best years of my life were given to schools and schooling. However, when I took small breaks from school, I found myself caught up in other total institutions, the most significant being four years serving in the Australian Army. I am living evidence of Illich’s words. Upon deep reflection, I have come to believe that schools are poisonous places, and many attendees of schools are wounded for life as a consequence of their schooling experience. The only real survivors of schooling are those who are oriented to the schooling process, and therefore are easily groomed to perpetuate the institution at one of its many levels (child care, pre-school, primary/elementary school, high school, university, post-graduate school, trade school, Bible school, etc.). But are these survivors really survivors at all. There is something satisfying about sharing knowledge with others. However, the total institution of school breeds workplace bullying, academic ladder-climbing, playground bullying, workload stress, and gives opportunity for despots to rise to the top of the bureaucratic pyramid.
All of this is just not necessary for an education. It is necessary to keep an industry flooded with public money to fund: mortgage payments, extended paid leave, sabbaticals, superannuation, textbook writing, seminars, tenured university positions, research projects, education journals, etc. However, an education does not cost any where near the cost of funding public-financed schooling.
A truly educated person is not institutionalized. An educated person knows how to live life to its fullest, is productive, creative, and knows how to think outside the school-set boundaries–an entrepreneur, an inventor, a pioneer. A schooled person thinks narrowly, and is trained to believe that there is only one answer–the answer required by the teacher on the test that is coming up. A schooled person is politically correct. A schooled person is passive, and expects others to provide for them–the well-trained dole recipient, or compliant worker in the top-down corporation.
It is said that it takes at least one month of deschooling to counter each year that a person has been schooled. I have been deschooling for 15 months as of this post. I only have three years of deschooling to go, and hopefully then I can start becoming a useful person in my community. What a waste of a life!
A deschooled society will save the community an enormous amount of wasted money, and provide a much better educated community, as well.
One thought on “Reflections on Illich 18: The thing that schools are best at is training up workers for the schooling industry and other total institutions”
I applaud you for your honesty and insight as to how things really are. I agree entirely. But it is not surprising when we see what God says about how man conducts himself and lives apart from him. The consequences and result of that can only lead to frustration, futility and pain. The truth of true education is suppressed by people who imagine life and living apart from who God is and what he says. Paul the apostle describes it well: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but there thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-22). This describes any body, any system, any institution that puts God next to their idols. We are talking about ‘respectable’ institutions but at the heart they are corrupt and depraved. I am not being sarcastic, moralistic, judgmental, arrogant. These are the facts and how we need to repent and turn to God for salvation and restoration. The gospel of the Kingdom of God is our only beacon of light. That is where the truth and true education lies.