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am 7. März 1999
Postman uses an ambiguous title that reflects the meaning of his book. The "end" may be construed as the purpose or reason for education or the end may represent his concern over the future of public education. For Postman, the survival of public education rests upon its purpose. He suggests that early purposes of education such as democracy, the melting-pot concepts, and Protestant work ethic have been lost. In addition, the "gods" of consumerism and technology have also failed. He suggests that the reader consider his five purposes for education as a means for its survival. These include his belief that education should exist so individuals become responsible for the planet earth. Another is that educators must enable their students to view knowledge in terms of a past and a future. Students must learn that mistakes are a source of learning rather than a fatality. Another is to extend the notion of the "American experiment." A love of country must be taught, and the foundation and arguments upon which this country were built should continue. Schools should teach and respect diversity; diversity should be a point of unification, not division. An understanding of language and its creation of a worldview is another purpose of education. While I found his purposes interesting, I question their being embraced and actually upheld by educators across the country. Nevertheless, Postman presents an interesting perspective!
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am 21. Juli 2000
Just how radical this book is depends, I suppose, on your investment in education. From a teacher's prespective, I find in startling refreshing and valuable, because Postman is willing to take on difficult, "sacred cow" movements in education in a cogent manner. He isn't trying to be controversial...on purpose, but he will if he has to do so.
For example, he takes on multiculturalism, an approach that is strong and getting stronger in our public schools. For Postman, it is important to maintain and present a common cultural heritage--something that will unify all of us--and yet maintain separate, sub- or minicultures in our homes and communities. But he presents his arguments with support and erudition, so that whatever your position might be after reading him, it will be something worth defending. In other words, it is worth reading this book if you care at all about education.
Lastly, it's short, written clearly and without verbosity or grandstanding.
am 27. Januar 1999
I once taught at a university in which the Humanities building had no windows. It was as if we were expected to be inclosed within ourselves, divorced from nature and the world, studying life from pages and computers instead of directly. The walls were drab, the corridors monotonous, and this was the place I was to teach the highest expressions of human culture, and most importantly, what is it to be or "become" human. Neil Postman's book is more than just refreshing. He makes a clear distinction between teaching as a kind of engineering feat--through books, transparencies, film, computers and whatever the latest delivery system is--and teaching as introducing the student to himself or herself and to the world. This book is about teaching diversity, in the real sense of the word. And this book is about the problem of education not being so much "how" we teach or "what" we teach, but that we lack a substantial goal. We lack a metaphysic. If you do not understand what it means to lack a metaphysic, then this book is for you. It is one thing to lose something and know that we have lost it (a wallet, for example), but if we lose something (such as a sense for what a metaphysic is) and we don't even know it is lost, we will not even know enough to look for it. If we have lost the sense of our lives being ordered toward some end, then indeed we are permanently lost. And we are just teaching randomly and learning randomly, as we try to become better producers and better consumers. Is that what we are? Neil Postman says no. We are much more. I encourage every teacher who cares about teaching to read this book. I encourage every student who has wondered why we have to study so many unnecessary things, to read this book. It will help the teacher reorient his or her teaching and it will help the student articulate the pain and fear he or she feels upon entering a classroom, and the reasons for his or her boredom in the face of what ought to be adventurous learning about the world and about himself or herself. It will give the student words so he or she can stand up in class and demand something better.
am 31. März 1997
So there's a lot to worry about these days. With so much that overwhelms us, it's good we have such an insightful and enjoyable commentator to articulate our anomie.
I learned a long time ago to disregard any considerations of subject matter before reading any of Postman's work. I didn't consider myself particularly interested in education, but Postman never fails to turn me into a raving zealot, far more rabid and unreasonable than even Postman himself, whether it be about how we speak and write, television, childhood, or technology. (This latter viewpoint puts me in a rather difficult position because I work in computers)
And here, Postman doesn't disappoint either. In the field of education, there are more ardent reformers than you could fit in a football stadium. But what do we want to reform, and how to go about it. Everybody has a different idea about it. (Compare Sizer to Hirsch to A. Bloom, for example)
Postman I think makes a good case for what has been wrong with education (too much emphasis on facts rather than narrative or epistemology, creeping cultural sensitivity, and inculcating consumerism).
Still, this books ends up, for me, becoming more a defense of the status quo rather than a polemic for radical change. We risk, in our dissatisfaction with the current system, throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Education is best when it socializes children into the obligations of a citizen, and immunizes us against the snake-oil seductions of consumerism. Postman believes the seeds to our salvation, to harnessing the prodigious energies and good will of the young, are in finding powerful narratives that give meaning and direction to their lives. And I wholeheartedly agree that teaching this has nothing at all to do with whether our children learn that via multimedia Pentium machines, traditional pencil and paper, or even clay slates, for that matter.
The book's title, Postman tells us, is a deliberately ambiguous prophecy, meant to make us question why we have public education, as well as warn us that it may be on its way out. But along the way, Postman always lays out his arguments with entertaining examples, and an irrestistably dry wit which almost, I hope he pardons my using the term, amuses me to death.
I think our culture is richer because of Postman; I just wish more people paid attention to him. As for me, I can't wait for what else he has in store
am 1. Juli 1998
So perhaps you hate to read, maybe someone has recommended this, or your professor is forcing you to read Postman, prepare yourself, your way of looking at the world we live in (modern media world) is about to change. Postman transforms everything you take for granted (television news for example) and stands it on its ear, forcing you to admit that you never really knew what you were looking at. Postman's books are for any citizen of the modern world who worries that information, and education have fat and junk food qualities that need to be curbed - indeed cut out.
Educators and parents especially should pay attention. Postman shakes your world.
am 7. Mai 1998
Postman has an uncanny ability to make everyone (no matter your background or philosophy) think about what he's saying. His writing works whether you are an academic, a student or just interested in the educational crisis. Teachers, business people, moms and dads and students should read this book. Take a minute and step outside of your preconceived ideas of what education should be and find out what it could be. Postman tells us how to make it happen. Now, let's do it.
am 23. Juli 1999
Mr.Postman did it again with his keen insight and antennas always up and working. America is a first rate country that should have a first rate school system (elementary & high school) but we don't. America's school children rank 9th in mathmatics and somewhere in science. Mr.Postman has a way of telling us wakeup before it's to late. Once again,thank you Mr.Postman
am 28. Mai 2000
I strongly recommend that teachers of the Theory of Knowledge Course in the International Baccalaureate program use this tile as recommended reading.
Dr. Postman's lucid examination of knowledge issues will appeal to students and stimulate discussion.