One theme I’ve noticed when illustrating problems with schooling is that the audience gets the impression that I am against education. It is true that I am against education in its traditional institutional role, but not in the personal sense. There is nothing wrong with educating children in a formal and reproducible environment, but everything is wrong with interfering with their faculties of curiosity and determination.

In Deschooling Society (available free online), Ivan Illich describes a spectrum of education systems ranging from the current monolithic public schools to decentralized learning webs. Written in 1971, his model for decentralized education is suggestive of the network power inherent in the Internet. It described a network of interested parties collaborating in resources and intelligence, some of which is only just recently materializing in the mainstream web.

However, regardless of the particulars of Illich’s arguments or those of any other iconoclast, there is an evident need for a more humane educational system. One which respects students enough to put power into their hands, and not to chain them to desks, arhythmic schedules, and the whims of a curricula based on the conceit that there is an ideal person.

Written by Adrian Perez