Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue’s responsibility until it engulfs his pupils’ lifetimes will deliver universal education. The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. We hope to contribute concepts needed by those who conduct such counterfoil research on education—and also to those who seek alternatives to other established service industries.
This was written by Ivan Illich in1970, in Deschooling Society, but seems like something that could have been written today: “educational webs” remind us of “personal learning networks” or “personal learning environments”, and the notion of learning as a continuous, global process throughout formal and informal contexts, embeded in the very life of people, in which experiences translate into learning, sharing and caring is rather contemporary.
As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s a good idea to have a school in which children and teenagers spend a part of their day, meet and socialize, share the essential experience of the physical world. But a school made more of workshops and conversations than of traditional classes, more for the individuals, their interests and competencies, than for the abstraction and arbitrarity that a class/cohort is, more a place of knowledge and culture to serve the students than a training environment to serve corporations and economical interests. With easy access to information and the technological tools we have today, it’s time to start thinking about a new school that replaces the one we have, resilient because of habit and tradition. Let’s be clear: the school we have today works to some extent, but it is far from the school we need for today and tomorrow’s society.