There is too much value placed in standardized, mandatory “schooling” and it is contributing strongly to modernized poverty.
There are three major ways that the institutional value system negatively impacts society: “physical pollution, social polarization, and psychological impotence.”
Reliance on any institution, most notably education and healthcare, leads to an inability for people to make decisions about their own betterment.
“Both [the rich and poor] view doctoring oneself as irresponsible, learning on one’s own as unreliable, and community organization, when not paid for by those in authority, as a form of aggression or subversion.”
Monetary stimulation of the entire education systems does nothing to either increase learning or diminish the advantages of the rich over the poor.
“Even if they attend equal schools and begin at the same age, poor children lack most of the educational opportunities which are casually available to the middle-class child.”
Funds are wasted by educating everybody with a standardized curriculum. Individual lessons in a specific skill would be much more economical.
Schools are given a monopoly on education, and it is discouraged that the others social institutions (politics, healthcare, recreation and family life) become themselves the means of education.
Institutionalized education conflicts with other aspects of life and is seen to be a prerequisite to be a contributing member of the workforce or society.
The best way to correct the education system is to organize it around the individual seeking the knowledge.
“…the most critically needed principles for educational reform: the return of initiative and accountability for learning to the learner or his most immediate tutor.”
Illich thinks he can fix the learning experience through creating four “learning webs” which are:
- Reference services to educational objects
- Peer Matching
- Skill exchanges
- Reference services to educators
Reference services to educational objects are formal learning sites such as libraries, museums, and showrooms. In general, we go to these places to deliberately learn, but places such as airports, factories, and farms can still have effects on our daily learning environment.
Peer matching uses shared interests to create environments in which people can voluntarily meet and discuss their topics of choice. This can’t be traditionally found in classroom settings because curriculums require everybody to learn similar topics rather than develop personal interests.
Skill exchanges are like mentor programs in that students can seek out the help of the more skilled. A more interactive and personalized environment found in the one-on-one learning program is more effective than a formal group session in which students listen to the teacher.
Reference services to educators can be interpreted as a reference list for interested parties. Professionals list their contact information so they can be sought out by individuals based on their interests and experiences.