De-schooling Society

Yes. When the trades rise up against the monopolies, then we can have the true rebellion. When intelligence, ingenuity, dexterity and probity throw off the stifling and wealth-extracting “guidance” of research institutes, consultants, architects – the whole education industry, which is designed to extract rent in exchange for subservience, then we can grow communities, which are intelligent to and responsive to their terrains. (Complexity needs long sentences)
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That “guidance” has brought us rising sea levels, catastrophic decline of both biomass and biodiversity, empty holes in the ground where resources once lay, wildly increasing poverty for most and wildly increasing wealth for a few. It guides us to an iceless arctic, terrible storms, drought and extreme rainfall – to cascading soil life and famine.
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Education has achieved all this, yet people facing a particular problem, will still say, what we need is education. What backward people need is education – what deprived areas need is education – what entrapped women need is education – what climate change deniers need is education.
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A result of education has been to overlie and diminish sensual intelligence and specifically: immediate, pragmatic, and personal intelligence of our surroundings; of the effects of what we do as trades’ people; of the evidence of our own senses. And so, information particular to our terrains and actions remains un-gathered for larger society. I see educated doctrine as the senseless leading the de-sensed.
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It is plain that education has brought what we know as civilisation to an end and is about to cause unthinkable tragedy. Yet still we say, how can we educate people to behave better?
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The problem is education. People have been educated into the enclosures – either into the rent gathering monopolies of the “professions”, or otherwise into limp acceptance of a failure to ascend to professional status. (Status enclosure)
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Let’s step outside the educated noise (truly, senseless noise) and just listen.
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Let’s listen for a while to Ivan Illich’s addressing Peace Corps students in Cuernavaca – it could equally have been to VSO volunteers.
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It is incredibly unfair for you to impose yourselves on a village where you are so linguistically deaf and dumb that you don’t even understand what you are doing, or what people think of you. And it is profoundly damaging to yourselves when you define something that you want to do as “good,” a “sacrifice” and “help.”
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I am here to suggest that you voluntarily renounce exercising the power which being an American gives you. I am here to entreat you to freely, consciously and humbly give up the legal right you have to impose your benevolence on Mexico. I am here to challenge you to recognize your inability, your powerlessness and your incapacity to do the “good” which you intended to do.
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I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status and your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, come to climb our mountains, to enjoy our flowers. Come to study. But do not come to help.
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Full text here: http://www.davidtinapple.com/illich/1968_cuernavaca.html
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Or here is Gerrard Winstanley:
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“…a studying imagination comes into man, which is the devil for it is the cause of all evil, and sorrows in the World; that is he who puts out the eyes of man’s Knowledge and tells him he must believe what others have writ or spoke, and not trust his own experience.”
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We have been educated into a crazy phantasy, which has made sensual evidence redundant.
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We pay crippling rents to GPs, solicitors, dentists, architects, planning consultants – consultants of all kinds and we watch as our trades decay and as our means to social pleasures disappear.
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Farmers read instructions on the latest drums and sacks. They’ve no idea what’s in the drums and sacks, but since they are the latest, they look up to proudly declare “I’m the cutting edge of industry.” Sadly, they believe what others have writ or spoke and do not trust their own experience.
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Status enclosure has no mention in the commons/enclosure literature, yet I think it pernicious as any of the others – land property, money property, thought property…
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If we are to “build a society, in which work and pleasure are within walking distance from everyone’s door”, then we must see that both education and status enclosure are major obstacles to that end. We will need to urgently regain the evidence of our senses. Fortunately, that is also a road to happiness. In the past we had another form of education: alongside pragmatism, parental guidance and so on, we had ancestral education. That is – the time-honed schooling of the commons. Today it survives in behavioural fragments of what is right and wrong, but most has been enclosed and lost. We can piece something together of our own from those fragments and hope for it to evolve. But, I’m afraid  those fragments are ashes, not embers, so that we must embody the fire and that will take time. We do not have time. Of course, communities, which have escaped colonisation and enclosure will have retained their commons – that is; they are guided by both ancestors and descendants – but they too are scattered tiny fragments. We will be locked into a struggle to escape the enclosures. Nearly all of us have been colonised.
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Change must come so rapidly that the unexpected will be everywhere. Doctrine will not sense it. For that we need our own senses, combined with sympathy, empathy, the skills of our trades…
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And we’ll need resolve in the face of tragedy. There is no path from here to happiness that can avoid tragedy. As we shall see in the next chapter, we must accept a very dark chaos and plunge right in.
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