Ivan Illich proposed a radical idea to deschool the society due to the reasonable observation that schooling has dominated the life of the society. We have heard many times that people are so dependent on the success of their schooling. Parents tell their kids to go to college because upon graduating their kids would secure a good-paying job easier than if they were not a college graduate. So, as kids growing up in such a community, we create a certain kind of image, unconsciously, that the higher the formal education degree and the more successful we are at schooling, the better life we have. Thus we compete for the highest grade, for the top ranking, for the trophy, and so on, for the sake of securing our future life.
Of course Ivan Illich talks about the access of learning being hampered because of schooling. However, what common people are concerned about is not whether we learn or not, but whether we can survive in this wild world, or whether we can come up higher in the food chain pyramid. For the common people, the answer lies in the schooling. So, our parents would get mad if we mess our schooling. Or, they would call us unwise if we were to choose a widely known low-paying job, like being a teacher or a priest or a pastor or an artist. Often, our parents tell us to become doctors, lawyers, businessman/woman, engineers, not for the sake of the nobility that lies in the profession, but because those professions pay a lot.
Is it now the time to reeducate the society? --Reeducating the society that there is more to life than mere surviving the world or getting a better life. It has been pointed out by David Purpel a few decades ago that public school has lost their moral and spiritual education. It was also argued by Horace Bushnell about 200 years ago that nurturing our children to grow spiritually is too important to be neglected. John Calvin worked so hard for the education of the entire world to know who they are and to know their God. Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for the redemption of many and at the same time providing the greatest model for the holistic education. Isn’t it our duty, our task, our blessed responsibility, and our greatest joy to take part in His commission to “make disciples of all nations” and “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”?
What Jesus commissions resonates with what Moses told the Israelites before they entered Canaan, that they were to impress God’s commandments to their children in whatever they do, wherever they go, and whenever the time is. The concern of education is always the concern of God’s commandments, because God’s commandments are all about life. We live in God’s created world and all that is in it belongs to God, and therefore we must live according to His rules. Our education must teach us how to live properly before the Lord of heaven and earth. This is our noble task of reeducating the society. I am not proposing a new idea here, but instead I’m endorsing THE IDEA that has been carried on in the Old Testament and New Testament. And together with Cornelius Van Til, I am presupposing Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation as the basis of reeducating our society. Apart from Jesus Christ, we will never find the true meaning of education, for He is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life.” It is very unfortunate that Confucius never met Jesus. Had he met Jesus, he would have died in complete satisfaction for they day he met Christ would be the day he met DAO.
So perhaps we don’t need to be so radical and deschool our society, but we could redeem schooling by way of reeducating the society of the true way of life, and more importantly, redeeming our society in the way of life that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.