Paradise Shall Remain Lost: Readdressing Deschooling through a Miltonian Lens


  • Nicholas Stock University of Birmingham


As deschooling re-enters mainstream discourse, this article examines aspects of Illich’s infamous text Deschooling Society through the lens of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Partly this is to yield a new way of talking about the concept of deschooling to ensure its continued discussion. But further, through the application of hauntology, this article demonstrates how other aspects of both Milton’s poem and Illich’s polemical continue to haunt us even now. Through a broad analysis of Milton’s cosmology, I posit that the poem may symbolise the broader structures of schools and education, and therefore the characters within the poem are representative of teachers and students. With the establishment of this symbolic structure, I analyse the language of the poem to explore the implications for deschooling. Two main areas are uncovered: first, the way in which the rebellion of Lucifer and his fall to hell exemplify ideas about school discipline, and second, how Adam and Eve’s treatment by god in comparison to Lucifer’s reveals the mythical nature of meritocracy. To conclude, I posit that the language of Milton is another way of providing a case for deschooling. But further, I propose that, like Adam and Eve in the poem, a strict maintenance of faith is essential in the educational structure of discipline and meritocracy, something that even Illich exemplifies.





Peer Reviewed Articles