I've been thinking about this site, Illich's book, and how I envision online learning in general.
One of the main disadvantages of traditional, formal education is that there is a set time frame, after which the class ends, you graduate, and the same knowledge "product" is then sold to a new crop of students. This discussion of Illich's book started a long time ago, and seems to have entered a period of dormancy. So it is with many online endeavors. The truth is, I'm not really that interested in Illich's book anymore. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it, and thought that the comments posted were interesting and insightful, but I'm just not motivated to revisit the text in detail. I read a lot of things, and then move on, pursuing a path of research that winds through a lot of different subjects, interests, and writing projects. And yet in my inbox I get notifications that more people are "following" this discussion...
One of the reasons I created an account here was to form networks, and to try to find those bright points of intersection where my path of self-directed inquiry crosses that of others. I don't want my learning to necessarily be divided up into "courses" and "tasks" and set blocks of time, since I see no reason why a peer-to-peer university should mimic for-profit universities in "production" schedules tied to the requirements and rythms of fiscal quarters. Digital scholarship has the capacity to be more organic.
The main advantage online scholarship has, in my view, is that it can be cumulative, slowly building up an archive of observations, links between texts, enthusiasms, and areas of research, and "experts" who other learners can approach if they have a question about a particular area or specialization.
In other words, if I am working on something a year from now, and I am reminded of Illich, I would like to be able to return to this page, and send Winslow or someone else a message. In the same way, I've studied 19th century U.S. literature extensively, and would always be willing to direct people to relevant primary or secondary sources, whatever their research topic may be. The life cycle of an online discussion group can be much longer than if it were in person or in a class, and this, potentially, could allow for new times of evolution in how knowledge is generated, shared, and reviewed.
I'm not making any recriminations at all--I joined this group mostly to observe and see how things worked, but now I find myself wondering about the future, and how my ideal learning group, or book discussion, would be structured. My intellectual anarchism prompts me to think that the best structure is none at all--a diffuse and interlinked connection of blogs, comments, and research profiles, but at the same time I would like some way to carry over the thoughts, energies, and relationships from one group to the next...
So Deschooling society predicts peer-to-peer or online learning, and makes some points relevant to a critique of the current system of the creativity-killing education industry, but it was written a long time ago, and I am opposed to investing too much authority in ANY book, let alone one like this which is a poor fit for my own belief system...I guess what I'm getting at is the best way to honor the spirit of this book would be to actually CREATE learning webs, and MAKE the critique of contemporary education, letting the discussion of Deschooling society morph into something else...If nothing else, some kind of closure for this stage of the discussion seems appropriate...
What do you think?
Discussion: Aggregate social changes Illych predicted
"Deschooling society" is very interesting because some of the social changes Illych called for actually happened.
Which of the things the book calls for are now implemented somewhat widely?
Anyone who likes old science fiction knows that some projections are proved systemically wrong by the actual progress.
Which of the book's ideas are antiquated by the developments in the last forty years?