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August 25, 2004


Chris Corrigan

And further to that, the writings of John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Gordon Neufeld and many many others who have influenced my notions of unschooling.

And man oh man, does it ever work when you put it into practice with kids. If there's one answer for all the ills that plague the education system, it's taking the time to unschool one's kids. Forget school reform and minor revisions to curriculum...nothing beats actual learning in the real world with real people.

You SURE you're not an anarchist Lenore?


Chris Corrigan

By the way, Deschooling Society is online here among other places.


Thanks, Chris, that actually helps me put my own education in perspective.

Looking back, I learned to do things at my dad's side, fixing the car, fixing the house, etc. and I learned to think from my mother. As teenagers, we read and discussed books and ideas that still inspire me today, but more importantly I learned by example how to question and explore ideas.

My actual schooling was Headstart through 12th in the Chicago Public Schools, and then a BS at MIT, but that was always in the context of "learning in the real world with real people." I got my first programming job for the summer before my senior year in HS, and came to MIT with questions and understanding already rooted in practice.

Having a prior background no doubt blunted a lot of the badness of traditional schooling.

Lenore Ealy

thanks, Chris, for the online link to De-Schooling Society. If I'm an anarchist I'm a rather gentle one, I hope! I never use the term anarchist--I do believe that social institutions such as law, property, government, etc are necessary and that we do owe them our, hmmm, fealty? In other words, we have to but some trust in them, but we are likely best off when we also take responsibility for these institutions. I'm not a conservative who seeks to conserve for the sake of the past, but one who seeks to sustain the arrangements that "work," to improve or recreate those that don't, and to have tremendous humility about the systems we set out to design to accomplish substantive social ends. Schooling as a social institution seems to me today not to work. The best education I can see is one that would not attempt to achieve social ends such as creating good democratic citizens or competent capitalist labor, but one that would allow for the moral, spiritual, physical emergence of real persons.

Chris Corrigan


I like your style Lenore! I don't know how hard or soft an anarchist I am, but somewhere in that continuum is a comfy home for me.

And Gerry...I like your recognition that your BS at MIT WAS real world learning because you came to it with questions. I remember one great school experience from Grade 12 when I enrolled in Toronto's first high school Third World history course in 1985. Our teacher (a great teacher) was Frank Bialystock and he started the year by saying that everyone who wanted an A could have one, and that the most important thing about this class was that you would come out of it with more questions than answers. It's a boilerplate speech as I learned later in life, but that was the first time I heard it and I remember thinking "Wow...I'm going to actually LEARN stuff in this class." It was amazing.


I read Illych long ago in the '60s which may color my faint remembrance, but how could one sort his views with No Child Left Behind and the constant testing, the breaking of little minds to authority, that goes with it? My wife teaches under the TX TEKS, (testing standards) as they are called, and it mind-numbing, deadening. I like what you say about your ideal of education - what they liberal arts, really, the cultivation of a mind that is considered to have its own organic growth, needing nurturing rather than mechanization.

Speaking of Burkean Conservatism, isn't neoliberal gobalism the most radical and rapid transformation the cultures of the world have ever seen?

When you speak in defense of small changes, it makes me wonder about people like Scaife, Bradley, and Rupert Murdoch, or the WTO, for whom the social change goals, "readjustments," are anything but small. Preaching inconsequence and localism, the tending of a little garden, to the disenfranched, while leaving the powers that be free to pursue strategic world transforming ends at a rapid pace, unchecked by concerns of equity or sustainablity, is not Burke. One thing for sure, the organic local cultures of the world are perishing under this version of "conservativism," or neoliberalism.


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