Deschooling Society 50 Years Later
Revisiting Ivan Illich in the Era of COVID-19
Keywords:Ivan Illich, deschooling, unschooling, COVID-19, learning webs, school democracy
In the COVID-19 era, most governments around the world closed schools to mitigate the spread of the virus. Students, educators and families had to navigate uncharted learning landscapes. Alternative models of delivering education proliferated. In this context, we revisit Illich’s educational ideas through the lens of pandemic-related shifts. We pay particular attention to four educational models occurring beyond school buildings: remote learning, homeschooling, microschooling (pandemic pods), and unschooling. To what extent do they constitute a step forward toward Illich’s radical proposal to deschool society? Which are closer to his conceptualization of learning webs as convivial spaces? Can schools still make a contribution to freedom, equality, and participation? After exploring these questions, we conclude that an emancipatory educational project should include two simultaneous tasks: the continuous development of prefigurative pedagogical experiments outside schools such as cooperative learning webs and other collaborative arrangements, and constant efforts to democratize schools and educational systems.
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