More stuff on deschooling

It seems my relentless web-crawling has borne another fruit as I found some good stuff on deschooling. Firstly, this blog post on EmbraceUnity titled ‘Deschooling Society’ by Edward Miller references another classic article on the topic by the political philosopher Ivan Illich and also includes the following part:

The American pragmatist John Dewey had similar ideas about the need for self-direction in education. In his treatise Democracy and Education, Dewey wrote, “Individuality as a factor to be respected in education has a double meaning. In the first place, one is mentally an individual only as he has his own purpose and problem, and does his own thinking. The phrase “think for one’s self’ is a pleonasm. Unless one does it for one’s self, it isn’t thinking. Only by a pupil’s own observations, reflections, framing and testing of suggestions can what he already knows be amplified and rectified.”

It is said that pragmatism is one of the few distinctly American philosophies, so none of this should be all that subversive. Another distinctly American individual, Mark Twain, once wrote “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

In this vein, Dewey continues, “…there are variations of point of view, of appeal of objects, and of mode of attack, from person to person. When these variations are suppressed in the alleged interests of uniformity, and an attempt is made to have a single mold of method of study and recitation, mental confusion and artificiality inevitably result. Originality is gradually destroyed, confidence in one’s own quality of mental operation is undermined, and a docile subjection to the opinion of others is inculcated, or else ideas run wild. The harm is greater now than when the whole community was governed by customary beliefs, because the contrast between methods of learning in school and those relied upon outside the school is greater. That systematic advance in scientific discovery began when individuals were allowed, and then encouraged, to utilize their own peculiarities of response to subject matter, no one will deny.”

Unsurprisingly, most truly paradigm-shifting thinkers have had little advanced schooling or at least have been very self-directed. If such self-direction is not fostered from an early age, it is unlikely that our society will produce many Einsteins.

With modern computers and the internet it is surely possible to eradicate schools without losing any noteworthy educational opportunities.. rather I think that by not wasting money on those government mandated indoctrination camps that modern schools are, enormous cost-savings are also possible. Anyway, after reading those, the idea of killing public schools sounds even more enticing. Now if only I could figure out a way to make it happen in real world.

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6 thoughts on “More stuff on deschooling

  1. Edward Miller


    Thank you for linking to my website. However, to clear up any misconceptions, I do not support killing public schooling. That would hurt the poor disproportionately and exacerbate inequalities. It would also make society more divided along lines of race, class, and religion.

    The great thing about public schools is it helps reveal the true nature of those divisions… as superficial social constructs. My idea of “Embrace Unity” is meant to be part of a dialectic, as the antithesis of the “Embrace Diversity” meme (which is also valuable). To embrace unity means identifying with humanity as a whole, above these artificial social constructs.

    Since public schools help overcome these divisions, I am all for it… but not without my criticism. I think there needs to be more emphasis on self-direction within public schools. John Dewey was a pioneer of this approach, called progressive education.

    A modern incarnation of this approach is the Free School. Here is a good example:

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  2. kuromaku

    Thanks for your comments, Edward. I do understand that it is unlikely that someone who works for the establishment, as I presume you do, would be openly against it. Yes, I’d say I’m quite aware of how totalitarian the establishment can be in not exactly allowing people with differing opinions among its ranks. David Horowitz has written lots of good stuff on that topic in case you don’t know it. And I do worry that people like you do try to embrace unity even where no such thing exists as I do think parts of humanity are heading in quite different directions.

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  3. Edward Miller

    I do not work for anyone. I am a student. I am aware of Mr Horowitz, but do not take much stock in anything he has to say. Society has always had divergent opinions, but we are all conscious beings deserving of rights and respect.

    If you want a good defense of pluralistic society, look no further than Friedrich von Hayek, who I am sure you respect. Read his essay, “Why I am not a Conservative.”

    “When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. “

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  4. kuromaku

    Yes I do respect Hayek and agree with many of his ideas. Though I’m not sure he would be buying your idea that public schooling is benefiting the poor (at least to such an extent it would justify forced taxation). And I’d say the leftist indoctrination has gotten into you if worry about exacerbating inequalities instead of worrying about that stealing from the productive people and giving to the poor parasites easily leads to a dystopia.Why do you think inequality is a bad thing?

    And just to be clear I’m hardly a conservative myself though I do agree with some issues with the so called conservatives.

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  5. Ryan Powers

    One crucial apsect of learning that public schools provide is socialization. Technology simply cannot replace this. There have been studies done by sociologists on feral children that have been locked up with no human contact except for a tv that was constantly tuned in, by the age of 14 this child could still not speak. Therefore this proves that socialization is a crucial aspect of learning, by replacing teacheres with computers and neglecting interaction in social settings we are not allowing optimal learning enviroments.

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  6. kuromaku

    I’m not surprised that kids won’t be learning language just by watching tv as it doesn’t provide proper feedback. And I don’t think that anyone wants to eliminate all socialization from the lives of children so you maybe addressing a moot point. Though I do think that sufficiently advanced computerized learning environments would provide enough artificial socialization for the children so that they wouldn’t suffer similar fate as those hypnotized by tv in locked rooms.

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