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The overarching mission of Bioneers is the advancement of holistic education pertaining to global social, cultural and environmental issues. Bioneers identifies progressive yet nature-honoring solutions to rising challenges of instability, inequality, and unsustainable growth and disseminates this knowledge via independent media, events, and community action networks. Front Range Bioneers took place at University of Colorado-Boulder from November 8-10.

Hip Hop for Food Justice

During a wide-ranging panel discussion about consumption (what your ears hear, your eyes see and your mouth eats), permaculture (each panelist spoke about identifying the boundaries and resources already in a community or space) and the history and culture of hip-hop, Ivan Illich’s “Deschooling Society” was commented on by a number of people in the room. One participant remarked: “That book is a weapon.”

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.” ― Ivan Illich

Illich, who explored the effects of an industrialized society and world throughout his life, states in the introduction to the 82-page collection of essays: “Together [Everett Reimer and I] have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.”

Enjoy these lessons about “Deschooling Society”!

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. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. 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 for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race 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.

I want to raise the general question of the mutual definition of man’s nature and the nature of modern institutions which characterizes our world view and language. To do so, I have chosen the school as my paradigm, and I therefore deal only indirectly with other bureaucratic agencies of the corporate state: the consumer-family, the party, the army, the church, the media. My analysis of the hidden curriculum of school should make it evident that public education would profit from the deschooling of society, just as family life, politics, security, faith, and communication would profit from an analogous process.