Deschooling Quotes: Illich

Deschooling Quotes: First, Ivan illich

No compulsory ritual!

Ivan Illich

No compulsory ritual. That’s what Ivan Illich said. That’s what I (and some others) seconded him in saying. That’s what I still say. That’s the essence of deschooling!

To deschool means to abolish the power of one person to oblige another person to attend a meeting.

Ivan Illich
There, that’s how he actually published it, printed, in 1970.

pk explains: Compulsory education is antithetical to freedom. The knee-jerk prescription of schools (and teachers) is antithetical to choice. It’s tantamount to reducing all people to citizens and then requiring all citizens to eat potatoes, not rice, not bread, not pasta, and making all potato eaters eat them fried — by Macdonalds. In a free society we would find our own food, find our own ways to cook, find our own ways to learn. I don’t want experts telling me how I must walk, I don’t want experts telling me when to pray or how to read what book when. And I surely don’t want any priests telling me what God has said to me — especially not when they were not present when God was speaking!

Knatz.com had four modules of deschooling quotes: quotes by Illich, quotes by me, pk, quotes around Illich and my FLEX (1970 ff.), and more quotes gathered since 1974. Yesterday I was putting them all up in one string here at this new quotes blog when I slipped with some code, and have to redo them. I’ll restore them in their original four sections, then recombine them.


Now: more Ivan Illich quotes:

To deschool means to abolish the power of one person to oblige another person to attend a meeting.

Ivan Illich

The first article of a bill of rights for a modern, humanist society would correspond to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “The State shall make no law with respect to the establishment of education.” There shall be no ritual obligatory for all.

For most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.

The ethos, not just the institutions, of society ought to be “deschooled.”

Educational webs … heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.

An Age of Leisure (schole) as opposed to an economy dominated by service industries.

… It is enlightenment itself that is now being snuffed out in the schools.

Once basic needs have been translated by a society into demands for scientifically produced commodities, poverty is defined by standards which the technocrats can change at will. Poverty then refers to those who have fallen behind an advertised ideal of consumption in some important respect. In Mexico the poor are those who lack three years of schooling, and in New York they are those who lack twelve.

Deschooling is … at the root of any movement for human liberation.

What are needed are new networks, readily available to the public and designed to spread equal opportunity for learning and teaching.

Experts find it progressively easier to hide behind their expertise and beyond evaluation.

Industrial products “speak” to their customers about their allurements and not about their nature.

We must have a sarcastic readiness for all surprises, including the ultimate surprise of death.

No compulsory ritual.

I believe that if something like a political life is to remain for us in this world of technology, then it begins with friendship. Therefore my task is to cultivate disciplined, self-denying, careful, tasteful friendships.

Whatever structurally does not fit the logic of machines is effectively filtered from a culture dominated by their use.

Fundamental to political ecology: … distinguish the environment as commons from the environment as resource.

People called commons that part of the environment which lay beyond their own thresholds and outside of their own possessions, to which, however, they had recognized claims of usage, not to produce commodities but to provide for the subsistence of their households. The customary law which humanized the environment by establishing the commons was usually unwritten. It was unwritten law not only because people did not care to write it down, but because what it protected was a reality much too complex to fit into paragraphs. The law of the commons regulates the right of way, the right to fish and to hunt, to graze, and to collect wood or medicinal plants in the forest.

Commons: [a designated] aspect of the environment that was limited, that was necessary for the community’s survival, that was necessary for different groups in different ways, but which, in a strictly economic sense, was not perceived as scarce.

Commons: Enclosure marked a radical change in the attitudes of society towards the environment. Before, in any juridical system, most of the environment had been considered as commons from which most people could draw most of their sustenance without needing to take recourse to the market. After enclosure, the environment became primarily a resource at the service of “enterprises” which, by organizing wage-labor, transformed nature into the goods and services on which the satisfaction of basic needs by consumers depends. This transformation is in the blind spot of political economy.

Traffic has displaced … mobility.

“Teaching”: the second oldest profession.

Corruptio optimi que est pessima.

The corruption of the best is the worst.

More Illich quotes:

Nudum Christum nudum sequere.

I follow the naked Christ.

We must learn to become responsible for what’s done to us.

Illich waxing very Greek!

… And by Christian I mean simply Are you a Christian? or Are you a son of a bitch?

at Fordham


Paraphrases of Ivan Illich:

If the Catholic Church wished to become Christian it would first have to:

  1. Give up all its property;
  2. Deprofessionalize its priesthood.
(See the Profile on Illich in The New Yorker, 1960s: it’s there.)
I add:
If Americans wished to become free, they would have to eschew government compulsion.

(Note above all Illich distinction between the natural behavior of learning on the one hand and the artificial substitute foisted onto us by the kleptocrats’ robot magicians: education, teachingbureaucracy!

pk adds:
Learning is natural, necessary: knowledge is good, a benefit;
education, teaching …
(school as a blind, automatic prescription)
is a set of interwoven pathologies.)

Quotes about Ivan Illich

The anarchists’ anarchist.

Makes Noam Chomsky look like a Republican.

When the Roman Catholic Church defrocked Ivan Illich it forfeited all claim to being Christian.


Here’s another paraphrase: At his CIDOC in Cuernavaca in Mexico some visiting American scholar asked Illich, apropos of almost anything, What about (American) Blacks? To a Mexican, Illich answered, a Black is

just another gringo!

Note: here’s an irony: I offered to digitize the world, cheaply, for all, in 1970. Thanks to that I was one of the last to be able to afford a pc! My Shakespeare quotes, my Illich quotes remained undigitized once I got a pc because I was busy digitizing new things I was reading; not the things most precious to me!

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
This entry was posted in DeCentral, deschool, pk Teaching, quotes, social order, society. Bookmark the permalink.

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