Term of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3

William Schubert

Committee Member 3 Email




This dissertation is a collection of speculative essays (Schubert, 1991) that explore the "why" of schooling and possible alternative educational arrangements (Illich, 1970/2002; Reimer, 1971; Goodman, 1962; Holt, 1972; Gatto, 1992/2017; Giroux, 2000). As one who has been schooled (in "educational" institutions and those like it, e.g. abusive relationships), I have developed a passion to bring awareness to the destructiveness of schooling and to learning from the world rather than what others want us to know and believe about it. Incorporated with autobiographical narrative, I trace both the historical and current reasons behind the establishment and maintenance of mass compulsory schooling (Adams, 1995; Montgomery, 2005; Nasaw, 1979; Saltman, 2012; Spring, 1973; Apple, 1995/2012). In short, it is not about authentic learning, which happens quite naturally in a free, accessible, and loving environment. Rather, it is about indoctrination into a way of life and thinking that benefits the powerful few.

I push the boundaries of traditional inquiry not only in form (speculative essay) but also in my connection of schooling with abuse and a healing that can only be found in love (Cameron, 2012; Evans, 1992/2010; Freire, 1970/2000; hooks, 1994; Schubert, 2009). A theoretical foundation of love is what we can build upon as we embark upon a cultural revolution to disestablish compulsory schooling and come to understand learning as a natural process and children as belonging in society with adults who love and nurture them. There is a better way; there should be many, in fact. As with love itself, it will require courage and faith. Deschooling (Illich, 1970; also, Apple, 2012; Gatto, 1992/2017; Giroux, 2000; Holt, 1972; Jackson, 1958/1994) demands this and more. It demands no less than the best of who we are as human beings in relation to one another and the best that our society can be.

The visions I have of a deschooled society are born out of the meanings I have made out of my inquiry. As I share my stories and visions, six prominent meanings emerge: (1) My university experience has led me beyond school reform to question the very idea of schooling (Illich, 1970; Holt, 1972; Bloom, 1987; Prakash & Esteva, 2008). (2) Deschooling must start in the mind – challenging the ways we view learning, education, and life (Dewey, 1938; Schubert, 2009a; Holt, 1967). (3) Like all abusive relationships, schooling is toxic; therefore, to deschool requires unshackling ourselves from its cultish grasp (Evans, 1992; Cameron, 2012; Spring, 1973b). (4) Schooling cannot be reformed…not by politics, not by religion, and not by force…and it is time we let go of this sacred cow (Gatto, 2008; DiLorenzo, 2016; Giroux, 2000). (5) My primary vision of a deschooled society is to create communities where every child, woman, and man has access to resources for learning anything at any time without compulsion or discrimination (Illich, 1970; Eisner, 1979/1994; Berry, 1990). (6) Composing speculative essays to transgress the traditional dissertation format helps revitalize self-healing and everlasting love--love for oneself, love for others, love for differences, love for unity, love for humanity, love for the universe, and love for peaceful futures in an uncertain and fragile world (Schubert, 1991; hooks, 2001; Fromm, 1956). It is my sincerest hope that this inquiry will bring us a step closer to realizing these visions of a deschooled society.

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