Ivan Illich
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Here are some quotes from chapter 1 of  Ivan Illich‘s classic Deschooling Society, which I recently re-read. The quotes are sentences or ideas that caught my attention. They are not necessarily representative, either of the book itself, nor of Illich’s or my thinking; that is, you won’t get an objective summary of the book by reading these quotes.  (For a 1971 libertarian review of Illich’s book, click here). With that disclaimer out of the way, here we go.

Chapter 1: Why we must disestablish schools.

[Schools school students] to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, … the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.

… In these essays, I will show that the institutionalization of values leads inevitably to physical pollution, social polarization, and psychological impotence. … I will explain how this process of degradation is accelerated when non-material needs are transformed into demands for commodities; when health, education, personal mobility, welfare, or psychological healing are defined as the result of services or “treatments”.

The ideology of obligatory schooling admits of no logical limits. [Illich goes on to illustrate using as an example the proposal of]
Dr. Hutschnecker, the “psychiatrist” who treated Nixon before he was qualified as a candidate, recommended… that all children between 6 and 8 be professionally examined to ferret out those who have destructive tendencies, and that obligatory treatment be provided for them…. Indeed, preventive concentration camps for predelinquents would be a logical improvement over the school system.

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