Recall that the time period of this topic is three weeks, from Monday January 31st until Sunday February 20th. All students are expected to read the Illich text on my web site with care and do the following assignments within the time frame laid out in the assignments.

We will spend three weeks on the issue of deschooling society and the related material mainly in Ivan Illich's first chapter of DESCHOOLING SOCIETY.

The first item of business is for all to carefully read the text. I have posted it on my web site in unit two of the course.

The sum of the various assignments will total a value of up to 1000 points.

Assignment # 2a:

Assignment on the reading itself. Presume that you are reading this text and a friend comes along and comments that this is a very strange title and asks you the questions below. Answer your friend's questions within the following framework: The first 6 of these questions will be worth 50 points each. The last 2 are worth 100 each. This assignment is 50% of the grade for this unit, or 500 of the 1000 points.

This paper must be in Corbett's box no later than midnight on Wednesday/Thursday, Feb. 2/3, 2000. Otherwise it will be considered late and will only be eligible for significantly reduced credit. I will not post the papers of the group until Thursday daytime, and at that time I'll comment on the replies myself and the floor with be open for discussion.

Take these things into consideration:

Your friend who has been paging through chapter 1 asks:

  1. This is curious, what does deschooling mean?
  2. Illich seems to insist that he isn't really talking about the school, but about society as a whole. School is just a focus or an example. What is it to deschool society as opposed to just disestablishing the school?
  3. Illich seems like a crazy dreamer, but an intelligent guy. He demands that schools be disestablished. But surely he knows that isn't going to happen. What is it about his argument that forces him into this wildly utopian notion rather than advocating reforms which might have a chance at succeeding? Why can't he just get by with very serious and extensive reforms. Why is he so absolutely insistent upon disestablishing the schools?
  4. Illich sees the Jenck's proposal as potentially within his notion and a very positive step -- almost. But, in the end he rejects Jenck's proposal because it is, for him, tied to the existing school. How is it tied to the school?
  5. Why can't Illich accept Jenck's form of it? How would it work for Illich in a way that supports both disestablishment and deschooling?
  6. Illich utterly deplores the school. However, of all the things in the school it seems to be two things he most detests:

    How would he get rid of those aspects of social control? What would he do? He seems to want to do it by law. How?

  7. Tell me what you think is the strongest RADICAL argument Illich makes in that chapter and why do you think it is so strong? What is the BEST counter argument to this particular argument that could be raised, and how would you answer it?
  8. What do you think is the weakest RADICAL argument Illich makes in that chapter and why do you think it is so strong? What is the BEST counter argument your attack and how would you defend your criticism against that defense of Illich?

Please, says your friend about questions 7 and 8 particularly, I know and you know that criticizing him because the idea is not PRACTICAL is no criticism at all. Even in glancing at the chapter I know Illich is much too smart to be proposing this as a PRACTICAL argument. What I mean is, which of his arguments makes the least sense even in some utopian and ideal world. Don't take any cheap out by criticizing him on practical grounds. We both know that is utterly irrelevant to what he's talking about.

Assignment 2B:

(100 points). Submit 5 questions on the chapter on Illich.

Anything you want. The questions are expected to be genuinely thoughtful and reflect not only a careful reading of the text, but some serious thinking about the material. Please get these to Corbett as early in the first week as you can. 20 points each.

Assignment 2: C/D/E/F (100 points each)

Four different times join in the discussion by replying to the post of another student, a post of Corbett, or by introducing a new discussion topic concerning the position and our discussion of Illich's work.

Each post should deal with some significant topic and do so using considered REASONS to make claims and defend positions. The place for question asking is either in assignment 2B or as extra posts. To just agree with another is not a significant thing to do. These four items should be substantial where you stake our a position critical of another person's, or adding substantially to someone else's position. Always your position should be carefully support by strong reasons.

No one post of these four should be less that 2000 bytes.

Any post received after Saturday, Feb. 19th will be considered late and not be eligible for more than 50% credit maximum.

My Philosophy Page Webster U. Philosophy Department

Philosophy for Children Critical Thinking Current Semester Education Existentialism
Miscellaneous Topics Moral Philosophy Peace Issues Voluntary Economic Simplicity


Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu