Wisdom of Crowds for Health & Education

In Deschooling Society (1970), Ivan Illich explained why we must disestablish school:

Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.

There is almost an arms race quality to the way in which we are trying to save our current education and health care “systems”. I am coming around to the notion that the system is the problem. Much in the same way that The Support Economy diagnoses ‘managerial capitalism’ as the primary cause of the disconnect between corporations and markets, I am seeing that Illich had it right over 30 years ago – we have seen the enemy, and it is us. Through our large, corporatist systems we have created self-perpetuating monopolies in both health and education.

In order to get back some semblance of control, I would suggest that we stop paying the supply side of the equation. Instead of paying the suppliers (teachers, doctors, administrators, etc.), a socialist country like Canada would instead offer education and health insurance to all Canadians. Let the people decide where their money is spent. If the average Canadian is allowed to vote for the governement, why not be allowed to vote where education and health (our topmost priorities) money should be spent? This system would have some problems, such as wealthier people opting into expensive facilities out of reach of average Canadians, but I believe in the wisdom of crowds, and feel that communities would develop to support all members of society. At least we would have the tools to do something other than lobby government on how to spend our money.

  • Does the wisdom of the crowd reflect this sentiment?
  • Would it be even remotely possible to try to implement this kind of approach?

Update: Dave Pollard has posted another article on how to use the wisdom of crowds in business planning and decision-making. His flow chart shows how the solutions team needs facilitation skills much more so than subject matter expertise or managerial skills. hmmm?

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