"School is the advertising agency
which makes you believe that
you need the society as it is."
by:
Ivan Illich
(1926-2002) Austrian philosopher, author, social critic
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This is not necessarily bad if society is moral and responsible for its actions. Nonetheless the quote is very true
 -- Anon     
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    Well it has done a lousy job, with the guys on this site. If this is true how did we ever get the flower children and Vietnam protestors out of our school system.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Waff, your second sentence proves the incompentancy of our public school system. Thanks for proving that point.
     -- jim k, austin     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    Editor, it's about time you had some positive quotes
     -- RBESRQ     
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    That's a good one! Illich has written some great stuff. RBESRQ, what quotes about freedom from government control and propaganda aren't positive? I guess none if you never became aware of it. You have brought up 'enlightenment,' Buddha, and the Dalai Lama -- hmm, I don't recall any of that being taught in school, public or private. If you truly believe that the youth in America are not being brainwashed to be obedient taxpayers who will not raise a finger to stop a rogue government financed by counterfeiting at the expense of our liberty and our minds, then you still have much more 'enlightening' to go. As far as I can tell, your arguments against the religionists and churches are just as valid with respect to the state.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, spin, spin, spin, you must be giddy with all this talk of nationalism. Again you pose the question to fit your argument an old trick used but those who are familiar with propaganda - you would make a good recruit. I don't know if you have been to Europe or know the educational system (though I disagree with much of the UK system), they do teach the age of enlightenment, Buddha and other beliefs and philosophies. Through the ages many great minds were taught by other great minds, in particular; Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These great minds influenced western culture and noe were taught at home. Ther are very few great minds that had their schooling by their parents - perhaps for the record you could name me a few. Learning is not not about passing tests or about being clever it's about being able to give back to society. You can of course sit atop a mountain and mediate the cosmos and commune with nature. I chose to get messy - life is about inquiry. If you let them children have these qualities of excellence, they are a factory for inventions. I will always remember the day a seven year old beat me at chess (I was 22). It was then that I realized that all you need to do is listen and when asked open the doors. Good luck Archer with your kids I'm sure they will grow up to be wonderful people - see "Slumdog Millionaire" its a great film by a Brit. Don't let the film put you off going to India - it is truly beautiful and is the home of the oldest great minds. To help understand Indian culture see the "Chess Player" I think you can get it on DVD. The to all this is to teach your children to have an open mind and as Russell would say "Always question authority"
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBE, for whatever reason, there is some strange assumption that 'homeschooled' children never leave home, are taught by their parents exclusively, have no friends or peers, and do not learn about Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Please do not confuse my criticism of government schooling with criticism of learning itself. If my child wants to learn how to play guitar, then we find a guitar teacher or someone who enjoys teaching guitar -- we then compensate them for their tutelage. The same is true for language (my children speak three languages fluently). We also travel extensively around the world with our children during any time of year -- believe me, that is one of the best educations a person can get, and they soak it up (our children have been to a dozen countries and lived in some of them for years). Sitting around the house all day is even more boring than sitting in a classroom -- don't you think we might have found that out, too? And we are not alone, surprise, surprise. The thing you guys seem to be missing is there is a TON of stuff outside of the average government schooling -- it makes me wonder why you cannot fathom that. My daughter became a certified diver at 10 years old. I taught her Algebra on the shores of the Caribbean while I worked selling ice cold fruit smoothies on the beach. I lived in India for a year, and frankly that experience cannot be captured from a classroom -- I am well versed in the vedas without ever taking a class (like that would have been taught at my school..). My son is helping us build our solar house -- he is 10 and has helped with the design. For Pete's sake, open your minds to the myriad of possibilities -- with the amount of time spent in school, our kids could have accomplished incredible feats. All I am trying to say is that there are many, MANY options for learning, and government schooling hardly scratches the surface. If all you want is for your kid to 'get a job,' then OK, go ahead, but if your children are smart and self-motivated then why not let them follow through without government 'socialization'? It is glorified baby-sitting, and because most parents have to leave home all day to pay the bills, kids left at home rarely have the self-discipline to keep the TV turned off. Even in public schools, the kids that perform the best usually have parents that put a lot of attention into them. Obviously, learning is essential for a child, but I assert that children are hampered more by standardized schooling and flourish more through independent study. A good tutor is a blessing -- at least we get to pick them for our children, it is a crap shoot at the local public school. Questioning authority is what I do, RBE, so I am not exactly sure how that backs up your argument -- it certainly backs up mine.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    If you can afford the best FANTASTIC! well done
     -- RBESRQ     
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    It doesn't take money -- it takes an open mind and the interest to learn. What is the price paid for a crappy education? Face it, we don't need school at all, just the self-discipline to take the responsibility for learning. 20 years ago, the local library was available to anyone who wanted to avail themselves of the wealth of knowledge inside -- some of us took advantage of that (some of us actually BUY books, too -- should the government pay for that?). Today the Internet is even more comprehensive -- and you can socialize your brains out -- like we are doing here. ;-) But it would be a dark day if the government ever gets the power to decide what we can and cannot learn/know on the Internet -- government education/indoctrination is no different.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, thank you, said very well. As you so aptly pointed out, those trained in the need of the collective, borg mania if you will, are not sufficiently abstract, creative, or open-minded to finance a world education without deep pockets - society being what it is. Selling ice cold fruit smoothies is a great concept.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    This quote is neither negative nor positive. It says nothing about the formal aspects of school or the relative qualities of different kinds of schooling. Illich is pointing out the significance of school as an agent of socialization, nothing more. I'm not yet familiar with him but I appreciate the wit and wordplay of this quote very much. "School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is."
     -- A.WOODS, Gloucester     
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    I wish I were the child of E. Archer, NYC!
     -- Anonymous, Atlanta     
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    What Illich is referring to here - what compulsory schools advertise to and instill in students, that is - is the belief that good things come only as professionally-defined and-delivered commodities. The myth of school, he explained with such radical insight in his 1970 book Deschooling Society, is that this institution 1) nurtures children's innate curiousity and 2) "levels the playing field." In fact, Illich showed, schools have a "hidden curriculum," tacitly teaching that there is always more education - another grade, another degree, another level costing more money - to consume, and that those who have managed to consume more of this stuff called education (in the form of another, higher degree, that is, no matter whether they actually know more or are more skilled or not), are placed in a higher "class" than those without. School teaches both that "you need education" and that it (school) is the only legitimate source of that education. In the pre-industrial era, learning was a gift; now, in modern times, learning is an economic business - it is "learning under the assumption of scarcity." School doesn't level any playing fields - as the latest stats from No Child Left Behind show clearly, for instance - but it does a marvelous job of seemingly justifying the badly-tilted economic playing field we all live in and on, aka "society as it is." Thanks to the largely unquestioned myth of schooling as the great equalizer, each student is to blame for his or her own failure to do better in society; that the system may be rigged doesn't come up for consideration. Everyone oughta read Deschooling Society. Seriously, it's one of the most important books of the 20th-century. It's available widely on the Web, for free, too.
     -- JV, Santa Rosa, CA     
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    CORRECTION: In my post of a minute ago, I miswrote something: I meant to say that "in modern times, EDUCATION is an economic business ...." Also, despite his book's title, Illich was NOT calling for the elimination of schools. Rather, he called for the disestablishment of schools, just as religion was disestablished at the founding of this nation, the U.S. Who or what you worship, if anyone/thing, is legally none of anyone's business, and likewise, no employer should be permitted to ask what degree you have - what brand name appears on it, in other words, which is simply a shorthand for how much you paid for the degree and indicates nothing about what you actually know or can do. Does this mean that quack doctors will be performing brain surgery? Possibly, but there clearly are other mechanisms for avoiding such dangers. In the world Illich envisioned, knowledge would simply be more freely available and there'd be less dependence on scarce professionals. Lots of people, for instance, would have medical knowledge and skills, which would do a great deal more to keep everyone healthy than today's hi-tech medical system. Like any radical vision, Illich's is difficult to summarize, but his books and essays, many of which are available on the Web, will make you think long and hard, if nothing else.
     -- JV, Santa Rosa, CA     
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    Originally, in this nation, it was understood, rightly, that the provision of education is a ministerial pursuit.

    To the extent to which the provision of education has ceased to be a ministerial pursuit, having devolved into an industrial enterprise, children have been pragmatically rendered commodities, their humanity and individuality minimized.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
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    Originally, in this nation, it was understood, rightly, that the provision of education is a ministerial pursuit.

    To the extent to which the provision of education has ceased to be a ministerial pursuit, having devolved into an industrial enterprise, children have been pragmatically rendered commodities, their humanity and individuality minimized.





     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
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    Waffler, did you really go there? The neocon / fascist / right wing socialist / government's war industrial complex had killing implements and mind bending products to test - was why the war. The occupying statist theocracy's seminaries (government schools) with their progressive / communist / left wing socialists / mind bending industrial complex media / immoral malefactors / demonic anti-natural law agents and unjust plastic people were the cause of the flower children and Vietnam protestors. In the entire government's scope of hate and degradation (right to left - left to right) there wasn't one (1) liberty loving individual sovereign amounts the lot. It was only by the nobility of the specie and a few good parents has the hope for liberty even survived.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I might add a P.S. caveat:

    School is the agency of theocratic dogma and other propaganda which makes you believe that you need the society as the seminary's evangelists say it should be. As was so accurately stated in yesterday's postings: today's propaganda is tomorrow's policies.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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