Paths of Unlearning

“The discovery that most learning requires no teaching can be neither manipulated nor planned. Each of us is personally responsible for his or her own deschooling, and only we have the power to do it."

- Ivan Illich

As part of the Resisting the Culture of Schooling series, we thought to create spaces for young people to share their own stories of resistance and unlearning. These unique combinations of autobiography and analysis highlight how individuals (and couples) have started to unlearn/challenge the culture of schooling, Development and Globalization (and their various reference points); to reclaim their own learning processes; and to regenerate their own ways of living more creatively, harmoniously, justly, etc.

The intended audience of these stories is primarily young people, who are struggling to make sense of the world around them and to create a positive role for themselves in this world. We hope that engaging with these diverse stories will nudge them out of the "we-can-reform-the-system" or “we-should-first-make-a- lot-of-money-and-then-we-will-do-something” mode of thinking. Perhaps these stories will encourage them to take some risks or, at the very least, to take stock of their lives and their futures.

An Invitation from Shikshantar
Inspired by Oriah Mountain Dreamer


These stories should also be interesting for those who want to understand and nurture unlearning processes in their families, organizations and for themselves.  Many of the authors below have found that writing their own story has helped them to reflect on their lives, to see the spaces they have had for unlearning, and to imagine what unlearning-learning processes they would like to pursue in the future. 

Questions to Consider for Your Story

In reading the stories of others, we can also gain many insights into the importance of unlearning in facing the challenges that confront us today.  These stories make it clear that there cannot be any packaged curriculum or pedagogy for unlearning.  They also point us towards many possibilities of how we can support unlearning in our communities today. We invite you to share your reflections on these stories with us.

Inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore (excerpt from My Reminisces, 1917)
Inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi (excerpt from My Experiments with Truth, 1929)

Reflections on Stories of Unlearning - various contributors

Stories of Resistance

* * *

“Man knows himself only to the extent that he knows the world;
he becomes aware of himself only within the world,
and aware of the world only within himself."

- Goethe

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