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.