Re: Deschooling Society LO2035

Fred Reed (
Tue, 11 Jul 95 10:35:36 EST

Replying to LO2022 --

Ron Mallis,

Your response to Illich (and Jim Michmerhuizen indirectly, as I assume he
posted this piece in support of his position in this matter) belies a
reflexive tendency shared by everyone I have ever met who, in one lifetime
or another, have been part of the education industry - that is, to circle
the wagons and start shooting at any weak point (real or imagined) in the
enemy's criticisms. I have come to believe that "School" (the culturally
adopted norm - the same school one means by "school to work program",
"school reform", "save our schools", and so on (I'm sorry, your criticism
about "Is this all schools?" was a real nonstarter for me)) is one of the
most insidiously ingrained institutions in western culture. Perhaps it's
because it is the institution that the most people have the earliest
experience with, with the result that all further experiences and emergent
mental models are predicated on it. Perhaps it's the strenuous
self-serving propaganda offered by the education industry (I want to throw
up when I see these teacher union TV commercials that spring up every time
an education reform bill or contract renegotiation comes up - "We do it
all for the kids" - yeah right). For whatever reason, a suggestion that
our cultural notion of "school" is counterproductive causes a visceral
reaction unequaled in nearly all other public debate.

I am convinced that in light of our recent threads concering "Emergent
Learning", "Motivation", "Manipulation", "Things that prevent learning",
"Not doing", "Proper rate of learning", "Fruits of Learning", etc. there
would be few among us who would defend the predominent notion of school if
it were suddenly dropped on us by aliens or government beurocrats. The
fact that a vast majority of children/young adults in the US (and I
presume many other countries) still attend schools fashioned according to
this cultural norm (i.e., age grouping, standardized curricula, no say in
school management, competition for grades, and so on) cannot be ignored as
a factor in considering how (or if!) "adult" organizations will make the
transition to the new level of existance envisioned as the "learning

I understand this is not an Education Reform list, but it is also not a
spirituality list, a training specialist list, or a philosophy list, yet
we bravely roam into these domains in search of insights and innovations
that can move us closer to understanding how to make the LO vision a
reality. Somehow, the impregnable wall surrounding "the school" must be
broached if we are to bring the critical process of early learning into
the LO discussion.

Fred Reed