Format: video with audio
Running time: 5 min 53 sec.
Summary: Every night Pinky tries to get some sleep, only to be kept awake by a bizarre school building slideshow. Words by Ivan Illich, author of Deschooling Society.
[ Pinky lying in bed ]
Pinky: I keep having this recurring dream. It's like an endless slideshow of school buildings. They're all different but they also all kind of have that same generic "school look" you know? They're really creepy...
And in the background I can hear the voice of Ivan Illich - you know, the guy who wrote that book? Deschooling Society.
Ivan Illich: ... which characterizes our world view and language...
Pinky: Well actually, I don't think it's really his voice... because in my dream, he kind of sounds like a girl... with a Japanese accent...
Ivan Illich: ...public education would profit from the deschooling of society, just as family life, politics, security, faith...
Pinky: I think he's talking about how modern people have all become... institutionalized.
Ivan Illich: Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed - the more "treatment" there is, the better are the results. Or, "escalation" leads to success...
Pinky: Actually... I kind of like this part.
Ivan Illich: ...The pupil is thereby schooled to confuse teaching with learning, schooled to confuse grade advancement with education, schooled to confuse a diploma with competence. His imagination is schooled to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection is mistaken for safety, military poise is mistaken for national security, the rat race is mistaken for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question...
Pinky: That's so cool...
Ivan Illich: ...Since when are people born needy? In need, for instance, of education? Since when do we have to learn the language we speak by being taught by somebody? I wanted to find out where the idea came from that all over the world people have to be assembled in specific groups of not less than 15, otherwise it's not a class. Not more than forty, otherwise they are underprivileged. For yearly, not less than 800 hours, otherwise they don't get enough. Not more than 1,100 hours, otherwise it's considered a prison. For four-year periods by somebody else who has undergone this for a longer time.
How did it come about that such a crazy process like schooling would become necessary? Then I realized that it was something like engineering people - that our society doesn't only produce artifact things, but artifact people. And that it doesn't do that by the content of the curriculum, but by getting them through this ritual which makes them believe that learning happens as a result of being taught...
Pinky: Yeah... [ chuckles ] some people are... so stupid...
Ivan Illich: I'm not talking about "some people" - I'm talking about everybody. I'm talking about you too, Pinky. Pinky!! Are you paying attention, Pinky?
writing: some Pinky, mostly Ivan Illich
Deschooling Society. Ivan Illich. Marion Boyars Publishers, Ltd., London, UK, 1999 edition (originally published in 1971).
Conversation with Ivan Illich, Jerry Brown, and Carl Mitchum (radio broadcast). We the People, KPFA. March 22, 1996.
narration: Pinky (herself), Ivan Illich (Sakurako)
sound effects: Pinky
drawings & illustrations: Pinky
other images: titles by Pinky
photo credits: stock photos from iStockphoto, lovely school photos from "the internet"