This book is about the end of an era in education. It argues that schooling as we know it will cease to exist and be replaced with something else. Education will undergo a radical, fundamental change, replacing traditional compulsory schooling with a market-based system of learning that is finely tuned to demand and does not rely on extra-economic coercion. The premise of the book is to treat school learning as a form of labor. Its genre lies somewhere between educational theory and a political economy of education.
The author explores the origins of the contemporary mass schooling models and redefines school learning in terms of labor, with special reference to genesis of education and to the history of childhood in its connection with schooling. Schools are described as islands of non-market, semi-feudal economies in the midst of the sea of markets, which explains some of the most common worries about learning motivation. The book offers several critiques of the most influential thoughts on schooling today: Progressivism, the Human Capital theory, the belief in intrinsic motivation, the voucher movement and the accountability reform. And finally, it outlines two alternative solutions for educational problems which stem from the essential lack of learning motivation. This book is an invitation to resurrect the tradition of asking fundamental questions about education. Improving what is essentially a flawed institution can take us only so far; the author is inviting the reader to go further.