I'm a bit at a loss at the resistance to the idea of the comparison of aikido and educational systems. Post-war aikido was established, along with all the other martial ways in Japan, as part of the educational system. In the outer-form school of aikido, how does one advance? By attending X amount of courses, understanding and being able to demonstrate X number of skills and techniques, by proceeding from one degree to the next, by putting in X amount of time, and passing X number of examinations.
What other model does that point to other than education? There is the model of fiefdom, which we could consider here or in another topic. But we could also argue that fiefdom is at the heart of institutional education.
There are many other models of participation and advancement that post-war aikido does not include. Boxing, tennis, and other competitive sports allow for an unfettered rise - as well as fall - in rank and status based purely on end results. The business world is often similar.
The world of art, music, and literature, within the open market can certainly have a broader range of expression and opportunity. JK Rawlings didn't need a PhD or a 7th dan to be given permission to write and succeed. She was actually on welfare.
I'm open to any other input of reasonably comparable models to aikido. But up until now, all I'm really seeing is institutionalized education. And in some respects, there's even an indentured framework. Stefan Stenudd made an astute observation that with the ranking system, in his blog The Gordian Knot of Grading
, I've always felt rather ambiguous about grades. They take you back to school, where grades are primarily a measure of one's conformity.
I'd add, that even outside of grading, the structured and often rigid classes that is so predominant within post-war aikido, smacks of a continuous classroom environment.