The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

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Vintage Books, 1996 - Education - 209 pages
4 Reviews
In this brilliantly challenging response to the education crisis, Neil Postman returns to the subject that established his reputation as one of our most insightful social critics. Starting from his belief that schooling is now too often a trivial pursuit, a mechanical exercise, he argues with stunning clarity that we have lost sight of the inherent value and substance of learning, and sets out to restore it for our time. Postman begins by portraying the American education of an earlier part of this century, when we knew what schools were for - to create a coherent, stable, unified culture out of a people of diverse traditions, languages, and religions. Shifting his focus to contemporary education, Postman outlines the markedly different narratives, or "gods, " that underlie our present conception of school, and shows how poorly they serve us. The new gods are economic utility (education only as a means to a good-paying job), consumership (the belief that you are what you accumulate), technology (a reliance on mechanical solutions, not critical judgment), and separatism ("multicultural" instincts that split groups off from a unifying cultural pluralism). In describing how education may reasonably and creatively respond to - or redefine - these problems of modernity, the author presents useful narratives to help schools recover a sense of purpose, tolerance, and respect for learning. These include the Spaceship Earth (preserving the earth as a unifying theme), the Fallen Angel (learning driven not by absolute answers but by an understanding that our knowledge is imperfect), the American Experiment (emphasizing the successes and the failures of our evolving nation), the Law of Diversity(exposure to all cultures in their strengths and their weaknesses), and Word Weavers (the fundamental importance of language in forging our common humanity). Postman's The End of Education heralds a new beginning. It seeks to provide solutions while provoking debate. Postman offers

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The end of education : redefining the value of school

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After 20 books (e.g., Technopoly, LJ 1/92), Postman, social critic par excellence, has returned to his original turf: education. Sharp, witty, and frequently quotable, he demolishes many leading ... Read full review

Contents

I
ix
II
19
III
37
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About the author (1996)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, and educated at the State University of New York and Columbia University, Neil Postman is a communications theorist, educator, and writer who has been deeply involved with the issue of the impact of the media and advanced communications technology on American culture. In his many books, Postman has strongly opposed the idea that technology will "save" humanity. In fact, he has focused on the negative ways in which television and computers alter social behavior. In his book Technopoly, Postman argues that the uncontrolled growth of technology destroys humanity by creating a culture with no moral structure. Thus, technology can be a dangerous enemy as well as a good friend. Postman, who is married and has three children, currently is a professor of media ecology at New York University and editor of Et Cetera, the journal of general semantics. In addition to his books, he has contributed to various magazines and periodicals, including Atlantic and The Nation. He has also appeared on the television program Sunrise Semester. Postman is the holder of the Christian Lindback Award for Excellence in Teaching from New YorkUniversity.

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