This week I read a story about the tragic death of Kenya’s most accomplished marathon runner called Sammy Wanjiru.
He lost his life in a mystic episode that involved his wife, woman friend and him. Sammy’s grandeur performance at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing earned Kenya her first ever gold medal in the world showcase.
Where would Wanjiru learn how to deal with domestic squabbles without getting into suicidal actions? Did he skip that subject in school?
No.I stopped to ponder over this heart breaking issue.
I then focused my thoughts on the lives of some of the world’s renowned scholars, philosophers and celebrities.
A good number of them had unprecedented contributions to education and knowledge but their private lives did not exemplify their acumen and adept in their ground mowing skills.
How can skills not acquired in school be inculcated in the minds of the young and old? Can the modern schools’ curricula that are examination crowded solve contemporary social anomalies?
It goes without saying that graduating from school is no sole license for competence in life. Perhaps that’s why Ivan Illich rooted for the “Deschooling of Society”.
Illich argued that schooling provides an induction into a way of life which is consumerist, packaged, institutionalized and impoverished. He sees schools as one case of modern institutions which persuade people to exchange their real lives for packaged substitutes.
Furthermore, the poor are disenfranchised by schooling as they benefit from it proportionately less than the rich. Schools in developing nations are used to create new elites with a consumerist mentality.
The tenets advanced by Illich paint formal school institutions as potential perpetuators of capitalism and other social evils.
Schools have been on the rise but pertinent issues that impinge on the society’s day to day life have not been resolved. Think about life threatening lifestyles like smoking and illicit sex that have cause society untold suffering. Why haven’t schools solved this?
At this age, Illich’s proposition of Governments giving learning vouchers to spend on any kind of education is a farce. However, social learning should be promoted as much as possible.
Teaching positive cultural values to both young and old can yield immeasurable benefits.
How can skills with people without certificates be tapped at national level? Can legislations to ensure that employment practices cease to favour those with officially approved certificates work?
Apprenticeship in less structured learning environments has been known to produce part of the best skilled human labour force. Does the formal school then have to exist?
Practical Information Technology (IT) teaching has an interesting observation. Lessons built around taking part and fixing old computer equipment change gears in terms of engagement of students.
In such lessons, the formal teacher-pupil relations with all the tensions entailed evaporate. The reason why theory is taught separately is then interrogated.
To improve the quality of education, Illich’s Learning Webs should be considered. His 3 types of learning should be infused into the learning process.
There should be interaction between a skills teacher and a student, between people themselves engaging in critical discourse and between a “master” (a master practitioner) and a student.
Education out of class cannot be underestimated.