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Everett Reimer : School is Dead (89.06)

This title is the result of conversations with Ivan Illich .In the case against schools, Reimer asserts that no country in the world can afford the education its people want in the form of schools. To this end, the essays assess and pass judgment on a system it shows to be profoundly flawed.

Reimer challenges the reader to consider that school has become the "universal church of technological society, incorporating and transmitting its ideology, shaping men's minds to accept this ideology, and conferring social status in proportion to its acceptance".

I have found this work confronting and personally challenging. It questions and critices many of the benchmarks I have used to develop my teaching methodologies. I am a product of the universal church and need to carfeully consider the implications of 'education for freedom'.

Early in this work, Chapter 2, "what schools do" Reimer, summons the work of Friere and Goodman to highlight that as "school systems expand..some true educational experiences are bound to occur in schools. They occur, however, despite and not because of school."

This is the point at which the 'dead knowledge' charge is firmly and convincingly laid against schools. Reimer references both Friere and Goodman and their work in highlight that people learn best when conscious of their true life situation. He highlights Goodman's assertion that people learn what they need to learn in the course of real life encounters. Professions and trades are learned by practising them. Scholars develop in the communities of scholars. Thus schools can teach only alienated knowledge: knowledge divorced from both its origins and its applications and therefore dead knowledge.

Reimer leaves us with foreboding and the promise of potential revolution. Encouragingly though, he highlights principles that can move us to higher order solutions. Perhaps most positiovely for me is the principle of cooperation and the resultant development of community.

Read these essays.




School is dead: an essay on alternatives...


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