Deschooling Society

Deschooling Society is known as the critical analysis of the educational process and policies practiced in global economies. It brought worldwide attention to Ivan Illich. There is no doubt that the issues pertaining to the deschooling practices have been widely debated by psychologists, linguists, as well as researchers. Moreover, temporary schools, discursive platforms, participatory workshops, as well as libraries have explored or redesigned ancient and modern pedagogical models. Deschooling Society talks more about society than about teaching institutions. According to Illich, society required deschooling since its nature could not be determined because of constant changes. The analysis of the book shows that from a philosophical perspective the data and processes presented in the study reveal the essence of educational institutions and their primary aim in the modern society. 


The Disestablishment of Schools

Despite being written in 1971, the problems explored in the book remain unknown to the common discourses about education. The common attitude towards the essence of education is unchallenged.  Moreover, most critics propose reformations rather than the abandonment of the western teaching system. However, Illich presents information that is useful for reforming the modern educational field in an effective way.

The author views schools as establishments that persuade individuals to exchange their home lives for unfamiliar substitutes. The schooling process is directly connected to the actions performed in educational facilities where formal organization aims at transmitting necessary values and knowledge. Undoubtedly, the central concern of the narration is the development of dependency on the designed system and its resulting control over children, students, as well as teachers. 

In Deschooling Society, the philosopher disputes the argument that education does not bring any benefits to society in general and its population in particular. He underlines that individuals would gain more benefits when their society follows a deschooling approach towards the education rather than when it undergoes the practice of preserving the inefficient system of teaching. Illich provides valuable examples in order to show the inequality of the education system as it proposes advantages only to those persons who have money. The first chapter of the book makes its readers thinks about the importance of the deschooling movement. Moreover, it makes them question the value of something they have always considered as beneficial schooling.

As a social critic, Illich examines the options available for fixing the system of education and the attitude of the society towards schools. The author argues, “Equal obligatory schooling must be recognized as at least economically unfeasible”. It means that learning institutions are not viewed as essential facilities in global economies. Some people think that the government should allocate a large sum of money for the public schooling system in order to solve the existing problems. However, the writer believes that the money, which the United States of America can physically spend on the reformation process, is not enough for enhancing the quality and value of school knowledge. He stresses the significance of the development and implementation of other methods. Illich’s observation points that America would have to double the amount of money spent on the institutions of learning in order to receive substantial changes in the equality of the academic system. 

Deschooling Society emphasizes the necessity to change the mentality of scholastic institutions rather than increase expenditures on them. Schools focus on money and, in such a way, discourage other facilities from assuming educational responsibilities and tasks. Such aspects of everyday life as leisure, work, family life, city living, or even politics depend upon “schools for the habits and knowledge they presuppose”. It means that individuals receiving education in such establishments adapt their lives to the school model   instead of becoming the center of this education. According to Illich, the knowledge, which children and adolescents learn from educational enterprises, can be obtained in the process of daily interactions and experiences. People can get knowledge by exploring the surrounding world and communicating with other persons about a wide range of backgrounds and stories. It helps people study in an exciting and unusual way.

One should agree with the fact that if billions of dollars were not invested in schooling, the global societies would increase the quality of human life and the country’s overall development. Moreover, it will enable the economies to focus on providing things and services that population desperately needs. Illich states that the primary goal of the government should pertain to addressing vital problems. It should provide more opportunities to poor people than those who have money. The writer argues that schools should be equal to all individuals because poor children are deprived of the educational chances that are available to the middle-class persons. The observation of facts will not help to solve the problem. Nations should take steps that would help to change the situation. 

Furthermore, Illich remarks that society should view education from a psychological perspective, according to which individuals can receive education through other means. It will not provide people with the highly qualified knowledge. However, the tactic will offer people the opportunity to learn from their interactions with others and daily experiences. Therefore, the writer claims that human reliance on specialized instructions through academic institutions should decrease because people must find other ways of learning and teaching.

It is important to underline that by deschooling, the philosopher does not mean that schools should be demolished and practiced at homes. Moreover, Illich’s deschooling does not refer to free schools, where students could set the curricula. The author focuses on the fact that schooling that can limit an individual’s abilities and desire for self-education is disadvantageous to living a fully functional life by that individual. 

The Phenomenology and Ritualization of Educational Institutions

The second chapter of the book examines the artificiality of human childhood and the influence of the teachers’ social positions. Illich presents the phenomena of educational foundations. Therefore, the author analyses the value of schools according to three aspects including the age, pupils and teachers as participants of the educational process, as well as the full time attendance. The social critic defines schools as manipulative establishments that possess children by means of protecting them from the real world and cloistering them. This part of discourse points to the fact that the government should introduce the hidden schooling curriculum in order to avert this manipulation. 

The third chapter focuses on the critique of universities, which are defined as “a liberated zone for discovery and the discussion of ideas both new and old”. The author’s criticism of academic agencies is a criticism of the consumerist mentality of contemporary economies. It is a model that the highly developed countries try to introduce and establish in developing nations. According to this point, a nation is developed according to number of operating schools and hospitals. As an experienced worker of South America, Illich is sensitive to how aboriginal peasant culture characterized by a high level of self-reliance is undermined by modern policies depending upon the consumption of services that train persons to be clients. There is no doubt that such a system makes children be obligatory recipients of market trends. Teachers are performers of the government’s rituals and promoters of its myths. The writer claims that the global economies should raise concerns regarding the implementation of this model in developing countries because they should focus on increasing the level of life quality rather than following consumerist tendencies. 

One should note that in the current culture, every person tries to reach for higher and better things in life. Schools have become competitive. Deschooling Society emphasizes that schools bring the pupils to the rate of competitive curricular consumption and ultimately into the national progress. Therefore, pupils of high schools perform their curricular tasks in a way that would help them to enroll a highly qualified college. After college enrollment, they carry out the educational program in order to receive the degree, which will enable them to get a decent and well-paid job. In addition, many individuals take specific care about the choice of the graduate school. They strive to apply to the well-known graduate schools in order to achieve success in life and have their dream job. Such a tendency shows that the education process have become a cycle of consistent trying to reach a higher level of success and desire to be much better than others.

Moreover, academic establishments promote those myths of the American society that pertain to the long-lasting pursuit of progress. More schooling results in a high level of expectations. However, schooling cannot get the poor person out of his or her poverty. Instead, it can decrease the level of his or her self-respect. For Illich, the school offers something else than learning. By demanding full-time compulsory attendance in ritualized programs, establishments award credentials only to those individuals who consume educational packages. Therefore, a school is a training facility designed for consumption.

The Schooling Spectrum and Inadequate Irrational Consistencies

One should state that reformations is not only required in the curriculum area but also in other sectors. In forth chapter of the narration, the critic offers a model for the evaluation of institutions. In order to implement this technique, he contrasts the manipulative facilities with convivial ones. One can argue that this part a key section of the discourse. Illich develops the institutional spectrum is a way that helps to identify educational agencies that propagate “a life of action over a life of consumption”. 

Manipulative facilities possess three main features including definition, possession, as well as production. These institutions are either psychologically or socially or addictive. Social addiction involves the tendency to provide increased medication if smaller quantity has not showed the desired results. The psychological adjustment or so called habituation “results when consumers become hooked on the need for more and more of the process or product”. Such addictions tend to manipulate the cognitive thinking and understanding of students. The key aspect of convivial facilities is the permission of personal development and individual choice. The tactic is opposite to manipulation. This primary difference allows readers to conduct an evaluation of seemingly similar establishments. Illich views manipulative schooling agencies as the ones engaged in the obligatory and repetitive use. It means that they encourage repeating the consumption of the educational packages.

The fifth part of Deschooling Society criticizes those ideologies of schooling that are characterized by radical initiatives. They include the lifelong learning movement and the free-school movement. Illich underlines that free educational establishment views the idea of schooling as means of inducing young persons into society. 

Internet Education and the Rebirth of Epimetheus Person

In his next part, Illich explores learning webs that have substantial similarities with those learning tools that are offered by the Internet. Illich argues the following:

A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them.

The above-mentioned ideas can be achieved by means of four networks. The first goal is the use of reference services in order to explore educational aspects. The network provides access to processes and things required for formal education. Some of these aspects can be found in a library, laboratory, rental agency, theatre, as well as a museum. Other processes can be observed in daily use in airports, factories, as well as on farms. The second goal is the exchange of skill and abilities, which allows individuals to make a list of their skills, the environment and conditions in which they want to serve as models for others willing to acquire such abilities. The third one involves the peer matching defined as a communication network that offers people the opportunity to describe the preferred learning activity. The last purpose refers to the reference services designed for educators. Such services should have the form of a directory that provides the addresses and descriptions of available professionals or freelancers.

The four networks form a system in which individuals can directly connect each other and share their skills. Illich could not predict that the web would become an enabling framework in the twenty-first century. However, the author examines the system that is close to the modern models of education, in which social networks can easily gather learners into groups or connect them with experts in the field of study. In addition, Illich describes the necessity to provide people with the access to learning aspects. 

In the last part of the book, the writer refers to the classical Greek mythology.  He analyses the development of the human race and describes this process as a group of communities, which are based on the establishments for needs fulfillment. Moreover, Illich compares the current society with the ancient one in terms of their dependence. He notes that ancient communities depended on the nature in order to fulfill their needs while modern communities rely on institutions. For instance, if modern persons feel hunger, they visit the appropriate commercial facility to fill this need. In addition, modern life is deprived of spiritualization. Ancient nations relied on the spiritual or religious aspects that helped them to explain the nature of the world. Modern people have demystified these tendencies and explained every object or process. According to Illich, such dependence has caused the problems of destruction or shortage faced by humanity faces. He claims that people have driven humanity and the environment to the destruction while trying to fulfill their desires and unnecessary needs. 


Illich provides valuable data and processes that reveal the essence of educational institutions and their primary aim in modern society. The analysis of the book shows that from a philosophical perspective Illich’s tendencies should be implemented in the modern societies. One should underline that the implementation does not presuppose the destruction of all academic establishments. It means to reform them in accordance with human needs to preserve its self-reliance and personal point of view. Deschooling Society criticizes the modern knowledge training centers. Seven chapters of the book analyze each aspect and feature of education. It covers the examination of the necessity to disestablish schools, the phenomenology and ritualization of educational institutions, the schooling spectrum and inadequate irrational consistencies, as well as internet education and the rebirth of Epimetheus person. Each section provides valuable information and can serve as a reliable source for the further investigation of topic. Despite being written more than four decades ago, Deschooling Society gives readers the insight of the inefficiency of contemporary educational institutions. In addition, it highlights the necessity to preserve the ancient methods of fulfilling needs without causing harm to the environment.

Mar 7, 2019 in Socioligy
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