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Re: Deschoolin Society / Creating Learning Communities

Dear Mr. Ellis.

I cannot but be sympathetic to your cause. That is not to say that some of the points strike me as needing thoughtful contemplation. Allow me to single out :he very first one:
* Everyone has the right to decide what s/he wants to learn and have the
chance to learn it.

Off hand, it seems to me important that the children from infancy upwards do not have that right. In a world where we are increasingly dependent on one another, it is important that children be raised with an awareness of and concern for people everywhere as well as of the limits to our globe's capability to sustain us all. Allow me to put it in one, albeit somewhat hyperbolic sentence: What my fellow citizen of the world community does not know and subscribe to can kill us all. This, of course brings us back to the issue of WHAT we learn.

At this point (aside of being somewhat pressed for time) I am a little uncomfortable replying to your important initiative in an adequate manner - by words, personal stance, and action. 

Perhaps the best I can do for now is to forward your message to our discussion group (ba-unrev-talk) in the hope that from this some useful initiative will arise.

I do hope that we find ourselves capable of developing this thread.

Henry K van Eyken,
volunteer, Bootstrap Institute (www.bootstrap.org)
editor, Fleabyte (www.fleabyte.org)

Bill Ellis wrote:
******************* INVITATION ***********************

Making Ivan Illich's "Deschooling Society" become real.  Read it on:




Dear Friends of Creating Learning Communities,

This letter is to invite you and your homeschool support group, learning
circle, book club,  multi-issue learning c-op, or other collaborative
learning group, to Join in a discussion and action programs to deschool
society and create a world of learning communities.
   ŒA Coalition for self-learning¹ is an ad hoc group of individuals and
organizations that has been coming together on the Internet for three years
to discuss WHY we learn, HOW we learn, WHEN we learn, and WHAT we learn.  We
have tried to think outside the school/teach/educate box, and to go beyond
³fixing the schools.² We have recognized that the way we learn shapes, as it
is shaped by, the society in which we live.

    With Paulo Friere, we are concerned that the current school systems
remove young people from their families, communities, society, and nature to
prepare them only for jobs in the corporate/factory/industrial world.  With
John Holt we have recognized that we are ³learning all the time.²  With Ivan
Illich we have explored ³Deschooling Society.²  With Peter Drucker and
Elise Boulding we have noted that the future requires life-long learning.
With Margaret Mead we have seen that learning in the home and community
can provide a superior education to a bureaucratic school system.
Following these and other progressive thinkers we have accepted the mantra
of ³envisioning a world without schools -- creating a world of learning

   Whether we talk about self learning, learning circles, unschooling,
deschooling charter schools, or homeschooling, we all seem in accord on
these points:
€   Everyone has the right to decide what s/he wants to learn and have the
chance to learn it.
€   Society and parents must recognize this right and provide young
people with the opportunity to learn what they want when they want.
€   Forcing adult-designed, teachers-designed or government-designed
programs on all young people is not an efficient or democratic way to
prepare them to be productive members of society.
€   Many young people and parents are looking for ways to get out of the
public or academic school-boxes now imposed on people by the
established institutions.
€   We need a radically different learning system as the foundation
for a radically different society.
€   All of us who agree on these points want to join forces to move ahead.

   As the Coalition discussed these concepts on the Internet in 1999, one
member in Japan suggested that we write a book. Another member in Denmark
offered to put individual chapters on his web page.  Thirty different
members offered to submit chapters for discussion by the whole group.  A
member in Vermont agreed to edit and publish a final version.  In August
2000  ³Creating Learning Communities was published.²  It attracted many new
members to the discussion, and an award from the Geraldine R. Dodge
Foundation for an improved web site and a program to go beyond the book and
to take actions to help create learning communities.

   During 2001 the vastly expanded Coalition developed a ³Guidebook and
Directory of Consultants for Creating Learning Communities.²
The Guidebook, released November 2001, defines Œlearning Communities¹ in
three modes: communities that learn, communities that provide learning
opportunities, and communities of learners.  It lists over 75 individuals
and organizations that help groups of families who want to establish
local learning centers, resources or services.  The Guidebook, like
³Creating Learning Communities,² is being sold by many members of the
Coalition to finance further assistance to community groups working to take
charge of their own life-long learning. (The book for $21.95, the Guidebook
for $4.00.

 This year (2002) we are working on a project and booklet, ³Financing
Learning Communities.²
This project has two goals:

1) to help the press, foundations, and others to understand the reasons for
the rapid growth of this movement, and it importance to the future of
society, and

2) to help embryonic learning communities find the financing to take their
different projects to new phases of development.

There are many other actions we may take on in the future. The new Learning
Communities need a newsletter to network those doing it. It is in the works.
We could develop a guidebook for libraries to help them meet the needs of
autodidacts, self-learners, homelearners, and others wanting to develop
their skills and knowledge on their own. We might add ³New Chapters² to the
online version of our book.  We could establish a fund to help local groups
get started with their own non-school learning programs.  The possibilities
are as broad and interesting as your imagination.  You can choose or create
your own project to help create learning communities.

   This letter is to invite your participation.  If it interests you you can
read the book and other material on line at:

You can discuss the future of learning and actions we could take at:

If you want to take action and DO SOMETHING join us at:

A Coalition for Self-Learning
Bill Ellis, General Coordinator
POBox 567
Rangeley, ME 04970 USA