deschooling


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deschooling

arrangements to replace institutionalized forms of education in schools. Deschooling arguments were popular in both the US and the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s, developing from the general cynicism and dissatisfaction expressed at that time with the nature of industrial society and the growing concentration of political and economic power. Schools came to be seen as agencies of a social system which legitimated the pursuit of qualifications at the expense of individual development. Writers such as ILLICH (1971), Reimer (1971) and Goodman (1956) suggested that schools converted liberal and humane purposes into repressive outcomes. They believed that, at the very least, schools play no more than a custodial role; at the very worst they are coercive. Pupils are socialized into dominant ideologies, understanding their own futures in competitive terms. Obedience to teachers and the lessons of the HIDDEN CURRICULUM prepare pupils for different places of work. Schools claim an educational monopoly and devalue all other forms of non-school knowledge. Such forms of schooling are detrimental to genuine forms of education and should therefore be replaced by alternatives. Suggested alternatives ranged from travelling teachers, on the old European ‘friar’ model, through information exchange networks, dependent on telephones and computers, in the US, to the establishment of schools outside the state and conventional private sector in the UK.

There was a very mixed reception for such ideas. In some cases they were enthusiastically accepted; in others they were reviled. The ideas can be criticized for their oversimplification of the relations of schools to society, although deschooling has value in its challenge to the idea that schooling is a ‘good thing’. However, in denouncing all that is wrong in schools, it has ignored that which is successful. It remains arguable that those on whose behalf deschoolers speak would actually be gainers if conventional and traditional forms of schooling were abandoned.

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