Bill Ellis

> Posted by: "Sandra Dodd" Sandra@... sandralynndodd
> "If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one
> million realities."
> ~Maya Angelou~
> ===================
> That came from a quote of the day list:
> dailyquote@...
> It reminded me of John Holt. ... [snip]

Yes, Sandra, John Holt deserves much credit for making Homeschooling
But John was a preceded by Ivan Illich with whom he became a close
Both were driven by their concern that education trapped society into
the status quo.
In 1970 Ivan wrote "Deschooling Society" the message of which has been
largely lost by by modern homeschoolers.
Below is a review of that seminal book. I wrote it on Ivan's death. It
may have some relevance to you valuable work.

Bill Ellis
> Review: Illich on "Deschooling Society:
> By Bill Ellis
> Before I read of Ivan Illich's death I had started to write a
> commentary on his contributions and ideas of "Deschooling Society." I
> have felt that many homeschoolers and even many Illich fans miss the
> message he was trying to deliver. Perhaps my own interpretation is
> enhanced by the numerous opportunities I had to talk with him, hear
> his lectures, and visit with his "traveling crap game" that met in
> various universities around the globe. Or it may be that his way of
> developing an idea was to stimulate the listener's own thought, rather
> than to lay an idea out so clearly that every one captured exactly the
> same message. Now that Ivan has passed on I am driven to make this
> piece a bit longer than it was originally drafted.
> "Deschooling Society" was more about society than about schools.
> Society needed deschooling because it was a mime of the school system
> that it engendered and that engendered it. In our current society
> individuals are expected to work in dull and stultifying jobs for
> future rewards. This they are trained to do in schools. They go to
> school so that they can get a job to work for future rewards.
> By deschooling illich did not mean taking schooling into the home, nor
> did he mean "free schools" in which a curricula was set by the
> students. Schooling of any kind that limited a person's capacity and
> desire to self-learn was detrimental to the living a full life by that
> person.
> All life, according to Illich, should be "convivial." That is it
> should be lived in joyous collaboration with friends and colleagues.
> Learning and work alike should be fun and fulfilling. They should be
> entered into as, and not differentiated from, play and recreation. A
> society that does not create that kind of convivial learning and
> living is not living up to, nor fulfilling the potential of, humanity.
> In later works, like "Tools for Conviviality," and "Shadow Work,"
> Illich developed further the theme of what he meant by living the good
> life. He took "good" in both of its connotations, -- good as moral,
> and good as a pleasing. "Vernacular" was the word Illich used to
> express the good life. The vernacular is the simple, the local, the
> communal. Every human and every community has its own natural concept
> of the vernacular. It is wrapped up in being a human. It is what a
> person can do themselves in the place the are at the time it is
> without dependence of external assistance.
> The bicycle was the hardware example Illich often used to exemplify
> the vernacular. The bicycle extends one's own capability and efforts
> for transportation. It needs no massive outside system beyond that its
> operator's control. The automobile, on the other hand, is not only a
> complex apparatus requires a complex outside system, but it also
> requires more work and effort than it produces in transportation. If
> you take into account all the hours you spend to buy a car, to
> purchase gas and tires, to pay taxes for the road, to insure and
> license it, to clean up its pollution, and pay for all of the other
> costs your rate of travel is less than that of a bicycle, and that
> doesn't count either the hours, the costs, or the frustration spent in
> traffic jams and accidents.
> In "Medical Nemesis" took the same concept to the medical system
> showing that not only did the medical not cure ills but in created
> them. In every aspects of our lives conviviality and the vernacular
> have been overwhelmed and diminished by what Illich called the
> "disabling professions." The law professions have increased crime, the
> professional economists have created scarcity and poverty, the
> teaching profession has dumbed us down, the farming profession has
> incrased hunger. With this loss of the vernacular has come the loss of
> the family and the community. The single goal of humans has become to
> "make it" in a materialistic global economy.
> In his most recent essays Illich has brought his concepts to a fitting
> climax. An essay "The Cultivation of Conspiracy" in "The Challenge of
> Ivan Illich" a 2002 book of a collection of essays by many of his
> colleagues edited by Lee Honacki and Carl Mitcham. This essay
> discusses friendship. The friendship Illich writes of is not just that
> of being kind and cooperative to you neighbors. It is a deeper
> 'conspiriatio'. As in much of his writing Illich goes to great length
> to explore the original meaning and related ideas and actions related
> to the word. "Conspiriatio" is breathing together. But breathing is
> not merely expelling air. It is about the breath of life -- the soul.
> 'Conspiriatio' is the melding of one's inner being with others. It is
> best exemplified by the wedding kiss that symbolizes, or more exactly
> is, the combining of two souls. It is more than the ceremony or the
> license of marriage. It is above physical love. It is the unifying of
> two beings. This conspiratio, or welding of souls, (although Illich, a
> former priest, doesn't us the word soul) is the root of the vernacular
> and of the convivial.
> This brief extension of Illich's concepts is meant only to put his
> book and the idea of deschooling society into context. Homeschooling
> grew from the ideas of Illich, Holt and others. During the 1970s a few
> scattered families broke away from government schools and started
> homeschooling. By 1980 there were some 10,000 to 20,000 such families
> homeschooling alone. As the numbers grew these scattered home schools
> started linking up, establishing organizations to provide resources,
> and to take on special tasks like the legal defence of homeschooling.
> By 1990 the cells of homeschooler had become a soup and ad hoc linking
> became normal. "Homeschool support groups" spontaneously
> self-organized in many communities and on the Internet. By 2000 there
> was almost no Ameican community that did not have a Homeschool support
> group.
> But, in the practical day to day struggle to homeschool their own
> children many, if not most, homeschoolers left behind the social
> idealism of Illich and Holt. Parents who were imbued with the concept
> of schooling could not really let their children be free to learn
> whatever the community and nature offered them. They had been guided
> by their schools and parents and they believed it only natural to be
> the guides and authorities for their children. They looked to
> "experts" to provide school texts and curricula. And exchange
> information with other parents on how to keep their children's> noses
> to the books. Their universal cry is for government to "just leave us
> alone." They argued that they have "parental rights" to raise their
> children as they wish.
> As homeschooling is becoming accepted by the mainstream it is also
> looking again at it roots and recognizing that "homeschooling alone"
> is not enough. Conviviality and the vernacular are arising within the
> homeschool support groups. The goal of A Coalition for Self-Learning
> is to bring the concept of deschooling society into real being. We
> seen this transformation as being necessary for the survival of
> humanity.