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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking but not much more, 23 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Deschooling Society (Open Forum) (Paperback)
Well, what can I say? Although Illich has some interesting ideas, and this is a thought-provoking read, I completely disagree with his conclusions. Yes, education is important, and although schooling is less than ideal in several contexts, it is has given very much to many.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Dec 2011 21:30:48 GMT
the literacy rate was over 90% in the USA before mandatory education was instituted and has been falling ever since

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Dec 2011 23:48:18 GMT
M.B. says:
Well, maybe, but association isn't necessarily causation. Thanks for the thought, though.

Posted on 9 Jun 2012 19:42:12 BDT
C. D. Berry says:
It's narrow minded and extremely bad form to mark down a book simply because you disagree with its conclusions.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2012 21:48:43 BDT
Dear M.B,

I have not read this book yet, therefore I cannot make conclusions about it, although I can offer a worthwhile reply to your comment on the fruits of schooling.

Fundamentally, you are confusing education with 'formal education'. Formal education in essence has little to do with actual education due to the methods used to deliver a syllabus and to examine that syllabus. University education (at a proper institution anyway, not the local 'city college') is seen by the majority of the alumni of those institutions as necessary (and I agree it is necessary) since the average person has no other way of accessing specialised information. Of course the majority of people are also brainwashed into believing that somehow a "university degree" should enable them with the skills to obtain a higher paid job (in reality the two are quite unconnected). This matter is quite complicated and needn't be addressed any further in this discussion.

Nonetheless, confusing education with university education is forgivable. On the other hand, confusing education with 'schooling' is unforgivable. Schooling has nothing to do with real education in ANY way. Those who believe, as mature adults, that schooling is an essential part of life, have simply been brainwashed that way, mainly due to compulsory schooling from the youngest age, in the same way that young Palestinians have been brainwashed into thinking that every Jew is out to kill Muslims. In this mirror example, this view of Jews is greatly aided by the fact that they see Jews persecuting Palestinians all around them, in the same way that we see those who do well in school go on to do well in their careers. May I refer you to your comment on confusing "association" with "causation". May I also remind you that the concepts in logic which you think you are applying aptly were not taught at school...which may partly explain why you use them poorly or selectively (or both).

The school curriculums across the World, especially in the West, are utter nonsense and this can be seen a mile away. You should read the review by Andrew Parodi of "Dumbing us Down", by John Gatto. Gatto says that many years are taken to teach elementary communication and arithmetic that should be done in 100 hours, and I not only agree with this, but I know this from my experience of teaching children privately, and being taught by elders in my own family.

Whether this is due to industry barons or the government or whatever evil forces we have working on society (these propositions are of course debatable due to lack of evidence on the part of an outsider), is a different matter. Education is education, whether we obtain it at school or university, whether we are paid for obtaining it or not. And I can say with utmost sincerity that school is entirely removed from the concept of education.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jun 2012 04:51:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Jun 2012 04:52:15 BDT
M.B. says:
Dear Ajit,
While you make some interesting points, it is a shame that you offset this by an occasionally slightly unpleasant tone, for example when you write: "May I also remind you that the concepts in logic which you think you are applying aptly were not taught at school...which may partly explain why you use them poorly or selectively (or both)."
Please refrain from this - this is neither necessary or a sign of good education (I guess we will agree that good education goes beyond the cognitive); it is, incidentally, also unsubstantiated (well, there is the cognitive element, too).
Of course, education is more than formal schooling; this was a totum pro parte, which may not be strictly correct, but why is this `unforgivable'?
As to your arguments about schooling, I can't really agree. Much depends, obviously, on the school system. In some countries, there exist two school systems in parallel: one is excellent, the other one isn't (Chile is a good example). It doesn't make much sense to generalise.
It is nice that you can say with `sincerity' that Western school curriculums are not very good, but your sincerity is not evidence. How can you underpin what you say?
I don't think (school-based, formal) education is great worldwide, mind you. One only needs to read Brock-Utne & Skattum´s Languages and Education in Africa (eds.) to understand some of the excesses that exist (children being taught by teachers in a language which neither they nor the teacher speak, for example), often due to the colonial legacy. There is the issue of register development as well. I do think, however, that rising literacy across the world has (had) much to do with schooling; I also believe there is some evidence that the role a school can play goes beyond learning, especially in contexts of instability.
Finally, I do recommend you read the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jun 2012 04:53:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Jun 2012 04:54:35 BDT
M.B. says:
Dear CD Berry,
Apart from the fact that qualifications like narrow-minded and extremely bad form sound a bit harsh, why would it not be legitimate to `mark down' a book because of its conclusions? If it isn't, then which criteria are OK? Style, structure, size of the font? And who decides these things?
Besides, it is not just the conclusions I have a quibble with, it is also the lack of nuance. Having said that, I do think there are things of interest in Illich' critique.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2012 15:35:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jun 2012 15:37:24 BDT
Dear M.B,

You are right, I was a bit aggressive... perhaps because I was protecting the other guy, but mainly because I feel very strongly about this topic. I apologise for how it seemed, I did not mean to offend you. Just by the by, aggression in debate is not to do with education. You will find that many highly educated, intelligent, rational people are aggressive, and some are downright rude and offensive. Newton was allegedly a nasty piece of work. I am certainly not condoning this sort of behaviour, but it is something to think about.

You are right that my choice of expression, namely the one involving "sincerity" was poor. But that does not make the point less valid, simply because I wrote a bad sentence. If you read the rest of my argument, that part may be deleted without affecting it. Most importantly, you have not argued your point, rather you have simply disagreed with mine. You need to put forward solid, "concrete" points in order to disagree with my proposition that schooling is removed from education. You have not put forward ANY points to expand your argument, rather you have simply used esoteric examples that seem rather pointless.

Again, I do not mean to be rude or offensive, but please put forward your argument against the "interesting" points which I have made, and perhaps add some points of your own. Please start with points on familiar, fundamental aspects of school education, before getting on to more complex examples about countries with non-English native languages.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2012 21:34:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jun 2012 21:37:47 BDT
M.B. says:
Dear Ajit (or Shushanto),

Thanks for your response. As to your note that being rude and education have nothing to do with each other, I think we have a misunderstanding here (I imagine you are not an education specialist): education, generally speaking, is not the same thing as (achievement of) learning outcomes, and learning outcomes are not, generally speaking, limited to the cognitive domain. What this implies is that saying that education is only about furthering cognitive abilities, is not correct: education is also about developing people's `affective' and `psychomotor' skills. In fact, according to Max Weber, before the rise of the bureaucracy, this was education's main goal, in many cultures across the world. For example, the `educated' British `gentlemen' and `ladies' -and elites across the world- are not just, or even mainly, well-educated because they know how to solve mathematical equations, but because they know how to behave appropriately in a range of circumstances. Therefore, someone can be very intelligent, and / or very cognitively able (which is not necessarily the same thing), but still not very educated.

But, as they say: it is never too late to learn.

As to your point that you wrote one `bad sentence', but that the rest of your argument still stands, I can't say I entirely agree: as I see it, you made a point (i.e. that schooling is far removed from education) that you do not really back up with any evidence, which is interesting, but as long as you do not develop a case, I see no need to develop a `counter-case'. And, as an aside, I do not think that you need to tell me what I do and do not `need' to do (and I do not mean this to sound unpleasant).

As to your asking for examples from English-speaking countries, of the 6 countries where I lived in the last 10 years, only one is English speaking, England itself. Wouldn't you agree the world is bigger than the Anglophone universe? Besides, as you haven't read the book, you wouldn't know, but Illich draws examples form a wide range of (non-English speaking) countries.

Finally, I am slightly surprised that you wanted to `protect the other guy'. From what did you want to protect him? From me? But I did not `attack' him, did I? Or from misinformation? Maybe then you should have told him that his point was incorrect, as literacy rates have not fallen in the US over the last century. In summary, could it be that this discussion is rather about ideological posturing?

Best regards.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2012 04:45:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Aug 2012 05:02:24 BDT
Europa says:
Re: Sushanto Bose

The belief that schooling is for the vast majority of children an essential and generally useful part of life is not evidence of brainwashing.

A person who has observed Jews persecuting Palestinians could logically conclude that Jews are murderously hostile to Muslims, without ever having been 'brainwashed'

Parts of the school curriculum in some parts of the world may be utter nonsense, but a quick comparison between those areas of the world where public education is available and those where it is not is evidence that the majority of school curriculums produce results which are good for individuals and societies.

Logic is not your strong point, bone up on it, and your writing skills are not a good advertisement for home schooling. You seem to subscribe to the 'ignorance is bliss' school of education, because you have chosen to comment at length on a book which you have not had the interest or courtesy to read. In other words to 'give us the benefit' of ill-informed opinions, which are irrelevant and worthless.
Were you truthfully responsible for the education of young minds? Oh dear.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2012 20:57:14 BDT
Re: Mccormack

I didn't say it was "evidence" of brainwashing. I was making a statement, I wasn't providing evidence, nor was I claiming to. The fact that you misread this sentence and drew a conclusion from your misreading shows that you're the one who needs to "bone up" on logic...and reading. My statement about Jews and Palestinians was intended to suggest that not EVERY Jew is out to kill Palestinians. I guess you disagree with this?

And again, regarding your reading of my statement, I just fail to understand your twisted perception of logic: "A person who has observed Jews persecuting Palestinians could logically conclude that Jews are murderously hostile to Muslims..." You mean they could conclude this (full stop). They COULD NOT conclude that LOGICALLY. Here's how your sentence is read: A person who has observed SOME Jews persecuting Palestinians (since they could not have witnessed ALL Jews) could logically conclude that ALL Jews are murderously hostile to Muslims.

The crux of the matter lies in the difference between "Jews" and "some Jews". The situation what you described is equivalent to picking an apple from the top of a barrel of apples, observing it has gone bad, and, with no other guiding facts, concluding that the barrel must be filled with bad apples. Is it not? I am not Jewish nor Palestinian, and I don't support either side, FYI. Simply finding one Jew who is not murderously hostile to Muslims proves my earlier argument (it's called a "proof by contradiction").

Sorry, I did not understand your third para: "...but a quick comparison between those areas of the world where public education is available and those where it is not is evidence that the majority of school curriculums produce results which are good for individuals and societies". I am not being insulting here, perhaps just thick, but what do you mean to say? What is the comparison you are making and what conclusions are you drawing from it? I don't know where public education is not available at all, but I am originally from India, where public education is at a minimum level - almost everyone attends private schools; there are three types: Indian language medium schools, standard English-Medium schools and Convent Schools, of which convent schools are by far the best. There is a type of public school called the corporation school, and it is for those below the poverty line, and it is not good; it is much like state school here (in London), but with minimal facilities. In India, those below the poverty line don't get direct benefits (such as social security benefits in UK), but they do get a very big discount on prices of many goods.

And regards reading the book, you are right, I didn't read it, and thus I shouldn't talk about it. I read another of the books in its class before commenting. But I made this clear, that I wasn't commenting on the book itself (something of which I know nothing), rather general viewpoints on schooling, that on which I know something. I made the comment because I wanted to know why M.B thought about schooling the way he did.

Sorry, but I don't know exactly what you intended when you wrote your message, because I noticed you have only made a single point of your own on schooling. You just wanted to tell me I was ill-informed? And in order to do this, you drew illogical conclusions from my statements which could have been solved simply by rereading?

Keep up the good work!
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