Schools as Colonizers

Some of the most radical and free-thinking educational critics of the 20th century said that we go to school to “be instructed on our own inferiority.” Schools As Colonizers: The Deschoolers of the 1960s, by Kirsten Olsen (VDM Verlag Dr. Mueller e.K., 2008) examines the problems of institutionalized education from the vantage of the 1960s and 70s most eloquent voices: John Holt, Ivan Illich, Paul Goodman, Jonathan Kozol, Herb Kohl and George Dennison.

In the 1960s and early 70s this influential group of education writers wrote accessibly, for the everyday reader, about the colonizing and radically unequalizing effects of institutionalized education on students and adults. To these critics schools were not benign, apple-on-the-desk acculturating institutions where children could innocently be sent each day to learn the skills they needed to succeed in a meritocratic society. Instead they were organizations designed to colonize, imprint, and shape from within the most vulnerable and least powerful individuals in our culture. This book examines the biographies of six important deschooling critics, their questions about the purposes of education, and the nature of powerful learning in their eyes. The book also asks, what do the deschoolers have to tell us now?

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