Learning Webs

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Proposed by Ivan Illich in Deschooling Society, as a new form of Convivial Institutions that would be an alternative to the Counterproductivity of manipulative institutions.


From http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-illic.htm :

"Learning webs - new formal educational institutions. In Deschooling Society Ivan Illich argued that a good education system should have three purposes: to provide all that want to learn with access to resources at any time in their lives; make it possible for all who want to share knowledge etc. to find those who want to learn it from them; and to create opportunities for those who want to present an issue to the public to make their arguments known (1973a: 78). He suggests that four (possibly even three, he says) distinct channels or learning exchanges could facilitate this. These he calls educational or learning webs.

Ivan Illich:

"Educational resources are usually labelled according to educators curricular goals. I propose to do the contrary, to label four different approaches which enable the student to gain access to any educational resource which may help him to define and achieve his own goals:

1. Reference services to educational objects - which facilitate access to things or processes used for formal learning. Some of these things can be reserved for this purpose, stored in libraries, rental agencies, laboratories and showrooms like museums and theatres; others can be in daily use in factories, airports or on farms, but made available to students as apprentices or on off-hours.

2. Skill exchanges - which permit persons to list their skills, the conditions under which they are willing to serve as models for others who want to learn these skills, and the addresses at which they can be reached.

3. Peer-matching - a communications network which permits persons to describe the learning activity in which they wish to engage, in the hope of finding a partner for the inquiry.

4. Reference services to educators-at-large - who can be listed in a directory giving the addresses and self-descriptions of professionals, paraprofessionals and freelances, along with conditions of access to their services. Such educators... could be chosen by polling or consulting their former clients. (Illich 1973a: 81)" (http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-illic.htm)

Key Books to Read

Elias, J. L. (1976) Conscientization and Deschooling. Freire's and Illich's proposals for reshaping society, Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 178 pages. Useful review of Freire and Illich with a focus on what Elias sees as their central concepts - conscientization and deschooling.

Finger, M. And Asún, J. M. (2001) Adult Education at the Crossroads. Learning our way out, London: Zed Books. 207 pages. Helpful review of the current state of adult education thinking and policy. Useful (but flawed) introductions to key thinkers. The writers take the contribution of Ivan Illich as their starting point - and make some important points as a result.

Illich, Ivan (1973a) Deschooling Society, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 116 pages. (First published by Harper and Row 1971; now republished by Marion Boyars). Argues for the disestablishment of schooling. Chapters explore the phenomenology of schooling; the ritualization of progress; institutional spectrums; irrational consistencies; learning webs; and the rebirth of epimethean man.

Illich, Ivan (1973b) Celebration of Awareness. A call for institutional revolution, Harmondsworth Penguin. 156 pages. (First published by Harper and Row 1971; now republished by Marion Boyars). Fascinating collection of essays exploring violence; the eloquence of silence; the seamy side of charity; the powerless church; the futility of schooling; sexual power and political potency; a constitution for cultural revolution.

Illich, Ivan (1975a) Tools for Conviviality, London: Fontana. 125 pages. (First published 1973 by Harper and Row, now published by Marion Boyars). Argues for the building of societies in which modern technologies serve politically interrelated individuals rather managers. Such societies are 'convivial', they entail the use of responsibly limited tools.

Illich, Ivan (1976) After Deschooling, What?, London: Writers and Readers Publishing Co-operative. 55 pages. Includes a substantial opening essay 'Deschooling revisited' by Ian Lister.

Reimer, E. (1971) School is Dead. An essay on alternatives in education, Harmondsworth: Penguin. 176 pages. Highly readable analysis and positing of alternatives.