Craig and Phil suggested reading Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich as part of the Edupunk course I'm on. It took just three baths to read as the book is only 116 pages long. It has a big idea - viz: schools institutionalise learning and stultify creativity, they are good for teaching but not for learning; much better to close them down and have open access to learning networks, where learners can borrow resources and arrange to meet fellow citizens in possession of the skills they want to learn. It's radical!
For me it would involve dismantling one of society's greatest achievements - universal education - so that people can more easily learn basket weaving and car maintenance rather than the broad curriculum needed to participate in a modern economy. There are a lot of problems with our education system but Deschooling Society and its rhetoric is no solution. Of course, we were invited to read the book because Illich's ideas about learning networks resemble the open educational resources we are exploring and creating on our Edupunk course. But these resources are additional - an extension - to the teaching and learning found in schools, colleges and universities. It seems to me that most OERs are the product of an already educated elite sharing resources amongst itself. Surely a society wide version of Summerhill would only perpetuate inequalities, favouring those who have parents with cultural capital, money and power. It is schools - properly organised and with resources targetted at the early years - that offer the possibility of a more egalitarian society.