Thursday, March 3, 2016

Ivan Illich illustrated: Deschooling Society

Quotes from Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich  

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An artist's perspective in pictures

- un poco mas abajo - comics medico - en espanol -

- BDs 'docteur' en francais - un peu plus en bas -

"If we add those engaged in full time teaching to those in full time attendance, we realize that this so-called superstructure has become society's major employer.   In the United States sixty-two million are in school and eighty million at work elsewhere . . .

CCC? centre culturel francois mitterrand now reads 'Cre Tue SR'? i met president mitterrand's sister (clone of him in a dress) in a supermarket in rambouillet circa'88 ... she had a drugged poodle half unconscious in her trolly ... i asked what was wrong with him, she said: 'oh, that's nothing, i drug him because he's young'

The New Alienation


"Only if school is understood as an industry can revolutionary strategy be planned realistically  . . . 

Alienation, in the traditional scheme, was a direct consequence of work's becoming wage-labor which deprived man of the opportunity to create and be recreated. ... 

Now young people are prealienated by schools that isolate them while they pretend to be both producers and consumers of their own knowledge, which is conceived of as a commodity put on the market in school. 

School makes alienation preparatory to life, thus depriving education of reality and work of creativity.  

 (oye, puedo tener vieques? ... o es tu roca a ti)

School prepares for the alienating institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.

(emma's maggie thatcher cartoon circa '81 age 14)

Once this lesson is learned, people lose their incentive to grow in independence; they no longer find relatedness attractive, and close themselves off to the surprises which life offers when it is not predetermined by institutional definition. 

And school directly or indirectly employs a major portion of the population.  

School either keeps people for life or makes sure that they will fit into some institution.

The New World Church is the knowledge industry, both purveyor of opium and the workbench during an increasing number of the years of an individual's life.  

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

(welsh football policemen, hav u met ufo policemen? hav u got any good ufo stories? i won't tell anyone)

doctor cartoons spanish

Comics Medico - espanol

BDs en francais - Comptes Soignes

Rebirth of Epimethean Man


"Our society resembles the ultimate machine which I once saw in a New York toy shop . . . 

. . . It was a metal casket which, when you touched a switch, snapped open to reveal a mechanical hand . . . 

. . . Chromed fingers reached out for the lid, pulled it down, and locked it from the inside.  

It was a box; you expected to be able to take something out of it; yet all it contained was a mechanism for closing the cover. 

This contraption is the opposite of Pandora's 'box'.

The original Pandora, the All-Giver, was an Earth goddess in prehistoric matriarchal Greece.  She let all ills escape from her amphora (pythos).  But she closed the lid before Hope could escape.

The history of modern man begins with the degradation of Pandora's myth and comes to an end in the self-sealing casket.

It is the history of the Promethean endeavor to forge institutions in order to corral each of the rampant ills. 

It is the history of fading hope and rising expectations . . . 

To understand what this means we must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation. 

Hope, in its strong sense, means trusting faith in the goodness of nature, while expectation, as I will use it here, means reliance on results which are planned and controlled by man. . . .

Hope centers desire on a person from whom we await a gift. 

Expectation looks forward to satisfaction from a predictable process which will produce what we have the right to claim.  The promethean ethos has now eclipsed hope.

Ritualization of progress (p.50)

“Pedagogical therapists will drug their pupils more in order to teach them better, and students will drug themselves more to gain relief from the pressures of teachers and the race for certificates.  Increasingly larger numbers of bureaucrats will presume to pose as teachers.  The language of the schoolman has already been co-opted by the adman.  Now the general and the policeman try to dignify their professions by masquerading as educators.”

“Repression will be seen as a missionary effort to hasten the coming of the mechanical Messiah.”

“The totally destructive and constantly progressive nature of obligatory instruction will fulfill its ultimate logic unless we begin to liberate ourselves right now from our pedagogical hubris...”

“The manipulation of men and women begun in school has also reached a point of no return, and most people are still unaware of it.  They still encourage school reform, as Henry Ford III proposes less poisonous automobiles.”

“What is surprising about this dissonance is the ability of a very large number of people to tolerate it.”

“As long as an individual is not explicitly conscious of the ritual character of the process through which he was initiated to the forces which shape his cosmos, he cannot break the spell and shape a new cosmos.  As long as we are not aware of the ritual through which school shapes the progressive consumer – the economy’s major resource – we cannot break the spell of this economy and shape a new one.”

Death Against Death


"Francis Bacon was the first to speak about the prolongation of life as a new task for physicians.  He divided medicine into three offices: 

'First, the preservation of health, second, the cure of disease, and third, the prolongation of life,' and extolled the 'third part of medicine, regarding the prolongation of life: this is a new part, and deficient, although the most noble of all.'  The medical profession did not even consider facing this task, until, some one hundred and fifty years later, there appeared a host of clients who were anxious to pay for the attempt.  This was a new type of rich man who refused to die in retirement and insisted on being carried away by death from natural exhaustion while still on the job" 

P.88 Learning Webs

"For most widely shared skills, a person who demonstrates the skill is the only human resource we ever need or get.  Whether in speaking or driving, in cooking or in the use of communication equipment, we are often barely conscious of formal instruction and learning, especially after our first experience of the materials in question.  I  see no reason why other complex skills, such as the mechanical aspects of surgery and playing the fiddle, of reading or the use of directories and catalogues, could not be learned in the same way."

"The demand made of skilled people that before demonstrating their skill they be certified as pedagogues is a result of the insistence either that people learn what they do not want to know or that all people - even those with a special handicap - learn certain things, at a given moment in their lives, and preferably under specified circumstances."

"What makes skills scare on the present educational market is the institutional requirement that those who can demonstrate them may not do so unless they are given public trust, through a certificate"

"People who can demonstrate skills will be plentiful as soon as we learn to recognize them outside the teaching profession."

"Converging self-interests now conspire to stop a man from sharing his skill.  The man who has the skill profits from its scarcity and not from its reproduction.  The teacher who specializes in transmitting the skill profits from the artisan's unwillingness to launch his own apprentice into the field.  The public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling.  The job market depends on making skills scarce and on keeping them scarce, either by proscribing their unauthorized use and transmission or by making things which can be operated and repaired only by those who have access to tools or information which are kept scarce."

"Schools thus produce shortages of skilled persons.  A good example is the diminishing number of nurses in the United States, owing to the rapid increase of four-year B.S. programs in nursing.  Women from poorer families, who would formerly have enrolled in a two- or three-year program, now stay out of the nursing profession altogether."

"Insisting on the certification of teachers is another way of keeping skills scarce."

Chapter 1 Why We Must Disestablish School

" present, those using skills which are in demand and do require a human teacher are discouraged from sharing these skills with others.  This is done either by teachers who monopolize the licenses or by unions which protect their trade interests."

"Skill centers which would be judged by customers on their results, and not on the personnel they employ or the process they use, would open unsuspected working opportunitites, frequently even for those who are now considered unemployable.  Indeed, there is no reason why such skill centers should not be at the work place itself, with the employer and his work forced supplying instruction as well as jobs to those who choose to use their educational credits in this way."

"Skill teachers are made scarce by the belief in the value of licenses. Certification constitutes a form of market manipulation and is plausible only to a schooled mind."  

"Most teachers of arts and trades are less skillful, less inventive, and less communicative than the best craftsmen and tradesmen.  Most high-school teachers of Spanish or French do not speak the language as correctly as their pupils might after half a year of competent drills."  

"Experiments conducted by Angel Quintero in Puerto Rico suggest that many young teen-agers, if given the proper incentives, programs, and access to tools, are better than most school teachers at introducing their peers tothe scientific exploration of plants, stars, and matter, and to the discovery of how and why a motor or a radio functions."

"Opportunities for skill-learning can be vastly multiplied if we open the 'market'.  This depends on matching the right teacher with the right student when he is highly motivated in an intelligent program, without the constraint of curriculum."

"Free and competing drill instruction is a subversive blasphemy to the orthodox educator.  It dissociates the acquisition of skills from 'humane' education, which schools package together, and thus it promotes unlicensed learning no less than unlicensed teaching for unpredictable purposes."

"The deschooling of society implies a recognition of the two faced nature of learning.  An insistence on drill skill alone could be a disaster; equal emphasis must be placed on other kinds of learning.  But if schools are the wrong places for learning a skill, they are even worse places for getting an education."

"School does both tasks badly, partly because it does not distinguish between them.  School is inefficient in skill instruction especially because it is curricular.  In most schools a program which is meant to improve one skill is chained always to another irrelevant task."  

"History is tied to advancement in math, and class attendance to the right to use the playground."

"Schools are even less efficient in the arrangment of the circumstances which encourage the open-ended, exploratory use of acquired skills, for which I will reserve the term 'liberal education'.  The main reason for this is that school is obligatory and becomes schooling for schooling's sake: an enforced stay in the company of teachers, which pays off in the doubtful privelege of more such company."

Institutional Spectrum


"Most utopian schemes and futuristic scenarios call for new and costly technologies, which would have to be sold to rich and poor nations alike. . . All of today's futuristic planners seek to make economically feasible what is technically possible while refusing to face the inevitable social consequence: the increased craving of all men for goods and services that will remain the privilege of a few."

(below sketches: giftig in german = poisonous, gift = poison)


quotes from ivan illich - deschooling society - artwork by Emma Holister

Chapter 3 - Ritualization of Progress

"The American university has become the final stage of the most all-encompassing initiation rite the world has ever known.  No society in history has been able to survive without ritual or myth, but ours is the first which has needed such a dull, protracted, destructive and expensive initiation into its myth."

"The contemporary world civilization is also the first one which has found it necessary to rationalize its fundamental inititaion ritual in the name of education.  We cannot begin a reform of education unless we first understand that neither individual learning nor social equality can be enhanced by the ritual of schooling.  We cannot go beyond the consumer society unless we first understand that obligatory public schools inevitably reproduce such a society, no matter what is taught in them."

Doctored Accounts (Eng)

Comptes Soignes (Fr)

Comics Medico (Sp)


Portraits and Sketches

End of the Line

Tropics Solo - and Collaboration

This series is part Emma Holister solo (2007 onward) and part collaboration with Puerto Rican artist Jose Luis Vargas oil+collage on canvas - painted in Italy, Switzerland+Brighton UK - 1997

solo '07

solo '07

solo 12-7-17

above: tropics siren knot 2 heads 2 eggs 10-12-18 oil on canvasboard 33cm x 41cm from original (lost/destroyed) tropics collaboration series with jose luis vargas '97

below paintings collaboration with jose luis vargas '97

She Saw UFOs

Far Out

Martin J Walker on Emma Holister's Far Out Football series: 'An Incomprehensible Correspondance'

Martin J Walker on Emma Holister's Far Out Series: 'Fantastic Voyage'

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(el pueblo hollister CA tiene dos L's como el negocio de ropa, y hay guerra entre los dos...yo, hoLister, vengo en paz!)

emma's ear sculpture done age 13, may 1980, bishop kirk school, oxford uk

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close up on that japanese vocabulary?

and oops! now Hindi!

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I'm goin' with you babe - RL Burnside 

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