Cute animated kitty and Ivan Illich

5 thoughts on “Cute animated kitty and Ivan Illich

  1. Yes indeed. And yet, and yet. And yet, yes indeed.

    So much to think about here. The institution of industrialized schooling has had some disastrous consequences. But I’m still not sure that it follows logically that we’ve confused teaching with learning, for two reasons. One is that teaching happens in many, many contexts. Perhaps it’s the context of the institution of industrialized schooling that’s distorted teaching and the idea of teaching. I think Illich would agree; I’m pretty sure Kozol would. The second, and it’s always the most compelling reason for me, is that teachers opened my mind and imagination in ways I’m quite confident I could not have done on my own. I would have done something on my own, and it might have been okay or better–I didn’t come to these teachers as a blank slate. But my best teachers made such crucial interventions in my life *by being teachers* that I can’t accept the argument that the idea of teaching is pernicious. I’m not sure Illich is making that argument, exactly, but he does come close. I need to blog about the moment in “Deschooling Society” when he embraces the idea of real teaching in real school. If I haven’t done so already. I’ve only got about three ideas; I just keep repeating them. I may be overcounting, too.

  2. Gardner, sorry to take so long to respond, especially since my response is going to be thin…

    I don’t feel qualified to speculate on Illich’s motivations for certain statements. I personally interpreted this film along lines not so different than what you suggest – that its criticism of the notion of learning only happening with a teacher emphasized the “only”…

    As implied by the “WFMU sensemakers” post I wrote that you also commented on, I too value the role that some external teacher can have on my learning — in that instance I was referring to DJs with vast and obsessive knowledge on the music they played. And I too am grateful to the teachers who provoke, encourage and guide me – you are one of them.

    I know I come across as a knee-jerk anti-authoritarian at times… and often behave as one. But I frequently assign value to an “author” or an “authority” if they can demonstrate their legitimacy. And in my view, legitimate authority should be strong enough to withstand honest inquiry.

    And lest I give the wrong impression, I am not suggesting that you are advocating an uncritical acceptance of authority. That’s not real school.

  3. Thanks for that characteristically generous and open-hearted response. This morning I re-read Illich’s statements in “Deschooling Society” on what I’d call “real teachers in real school,” and they’re marvelously suggestive and conflicted. I love the way Illich demonstrates his own struggles there. I need to blog about it. But back to your response. I’ve never heard you be knee-jerk anything, even when we disagree (which is seldom, to tell the truth). We’re in complete agreement about legitimate authority’s needing to be strong enough to stand up to honest inquiry. I’d say that honest inquiry strengthens legitimate authority. And you’re absolutely right about the way real school must keep that honest inquiry alive in all directions. It’s so difficult for me to articulate the character of honesty in that inquiry. About the best I can do is to say that when we trust each other to trust the conversation, we’re on the way to honest inquiry. But that still isn’t quite it. I think it has something to do with ambition, too, and with humility.

    Whatever it is, I have seen many, many times that I can trust you to do it. That’s why you’re one of my most valuable teachers. Plus you get the Guess Who, which is another bit of highly compelling evidence in your behalf.

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