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Postman suggests that the current crisis in our educational system derives from its failure to supply students with a translucent, unifying "narrative" like those that inspired earlier generations. Instead, today's schools promote the false "gods" of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment. What alternative strategies can we use to instill our ch Postman suggests that the current crisis in our educational system derives from its failure to supply students with a translucent, unifying "narrative" like those that inspired earlier generations. Instead, today's schools promote the false "gods" of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment. What alternative strategies can we use to instill our children with a sense of global citizenship, healthy intellectual skepticism, respect of America's traditions, and appreciation of its diversity? In answering this question, The End of Education restores meaning and common sense to the arena in which they are most urgently needed. "Informal and clear...Postman's ideas about education are appealingly fresh."--New York Times Book Review


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Postman suggests that the current crisis in our educational system derives from its failure to supply students with a translucent, unifying "narrative" like those that inspired earlier generations. Instead, today's schools promote the false "gods" of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment. What alternative strategies can we use to instill our ch Postman suggests that the current crisis in our educational system derives from its failure to supply students with a translucent, unifying "narrative" like those that inspired earlier generations. Instead, today's schools promote the false "gods" of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment. What alternative strategies can we use to instill our children with a sense of global citizenship, healthy intellectual skepticism, respect of America's traditions, and appreciation of its diversity? In answering this question, The End of Education restores meaning and common sense to the arena in which they are most urgently needed. "Informal and clear...Postman's ideas about education are appealingly fresh."--New York Times Book Review

30 review for The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    Neil Postman came across as a real doomsayer in Amusing Ourselves to Death, but since what he had to say rang so true, I wanted to read more of it. The title of this book seemed just as pessimistic, but it was deceptively so. By “End of Education,” Postman isn’t really talking about the death of education so much as the aims of education. What is it for? Economic utility, i.e. preparing kids for the labor market, isn’t enough of a reason – at least not to a kid. Postman doesn’t think much of hel Neil Postman came across as a real doomsayer in Amusing Ourselves to Death, but since what he had to say rang so true, I wanted to read more of it. The title of this book seemed just as pessimistic, but it was deceptively so. By “End of Education,” Postman isn’t really talking about the death of education so much as the aims of education. What is it for? Economic utility, i.e. preparing kids for the labor market, isn’t enough of a reason – at least not to a kid. Postman doesn’t think much of helping kids develop technical and computer literacy either. To him, the ideal is for kids to be trained to be culturally literate human beings who take responsibility for the community and world they live in and who can tolerate other people’s differences. He’s a big proponent of the public schools creating a common culture that respects diversity. He blames the “multi-cultural” agenda for delivering the precise opposite. Though I didn’t agree with every one of Postman’s points, the section that he calls “A Fable,” in which he tells the fictional story of how New York City solved its school crisis, made me want to get up and cheer. It’s for that section that I’m giving the book 5 stars. Besides that, Postman deserves it. I believe he is one of the most important educational philosophers of recent times, a John Dewey of the late 20th century. Since education, whether you get it from school, synagogue, church, or television, is really what defines our lives, everyone should read him.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    When first approached about helping to facilitate an online discussion of Neil Postman’s The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, I had my doubts. Postman’s book was published in 1995, and the man himself died in 2003. American education has evolved rapidly and dramatically in the intervening years. How could a book so old have any relevance for these turbulent times? Well, shut my mouth. The End of Education is nothing short of prescient. Writing before No Child Left Behind, Common When first approached about helping to facilitate an online discussion of Neil Postman’s The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, I had my doubts. Postman’s book was published in 1995, and the man himself died in 2003. American education has evolved rapidly and dramatically in the intervening years. How could a book so old have any relevance for these turbulent times? Well, shut my mouth. The End of Education is nothing short of prescient. Writing before No Child Left Behind, Common Core State Standards, ubiquitous testing, and the corporatization of public education, Neil Postman saw it all coming and vividly describes the dangers and opportunities in what has largely come to pass in the years since his book’s publication. In 197 pages, Postman explains how the absence of a coherent narrative in American school allows a drift toward meaninglessness and creates a void that is being filled by opportunistic “educrats.” He then offers several ways to focus schools that will provide purpose, direction, and “a spiritual and serious intellectual dimension to learning.” You’re welcome to join the discussion of The End of Education on English Companion Ning, beginning on June 23, 2013.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    No book so clearly and regretfully demonstrates the problem with American education: the lack of the grand narrative. As Postman effortlessly lays out, schools have generally considered the how of education but lack the why, believing it to either be irrelevant or obvious. Now, Postman notes, a group of "false gods" now drive the philosophy of education - can things ever be changed? Yes, Postman answers, there are Gods that serve - grand narratives including the American Dream and a few other gen No book so clearly and regretfully demonstrates the problem with American education: the lack of the grand narrative. As Postman effortlessly lays out, schools have generally considered the how of education but lack the why, believing it to either be irrelevant or obvious. Now, Postman notes, a group of "false gods" now drive the philosophy of education - can things ever be changed? Yes, Postman answers, there are Gods that serve - grand narratives including the American Dream and a few other generally altruistic systems of belief that encourage education as an activity of both individual and communal benefit. Imagine a classroom with no textbooks, only direct communication. A classroom where service holds an equal place to lecture. A classroom where national pride and a respectful celebration of the many cultures of America are held side-by-side. Imagine a classroom that works. Take that, No Child Left Behind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Chow

    Not an easy read, but an essential one for anyone seriously contending with the problems inherent in American public education today. Postman's prescience is almost uncanny; reading his warnings about the over-reliance on technology couldn't be more spot-on in light of today's app-addicted teens. He does come off as a bit of a curmudgeon at times, however, and his writing style can be pompous and hard to take. But get past that and what lies beneath is an unflinching assessment of what's wrong w Not an easy read, but an essential one for anyone seriously contending with the problems inherent in American public education today. Postman's prescience is almost uncanny; reading his warnings about the over-reliance on technology couldn't be more spot-on in light of today's app-addicted teens. He does come off as a bit of a curmudgeon at times, however, and his writing style can be pompous and hard to take. But get past that and what lies beneath is an unflinching assessment of what's wrong with how we educate students and Postman's admittedly lofty suggestions for how to remedy it. I wish I could say I came away from the book inspired, but I can say that I was enlightened and somewhat vindicated in knowing that some of my gut feelings are validated by a theorist as brilliant and intellectual as Postman.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Will Ejzak

    This book is as annoying as it is inspirational. In 1969, Neil Postman wrote my all-time favorite pedagogy book, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, in which he deconstructs pretty much everything schools do, makes fun of a lot of common assumptions about what a "good" education entails, and tries to evaluate what's actually worth doing in the classroom. The End of Education has some of the same magic, but for every brilliantly snarky observation, there's some snobbishly pretentious idea to count This book is as annoying as it is inspirational. In 1969, Neil Postman wrote my all-time favorite pedagogy book, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, in which he deconstructs pretty much everything schools do, makes fun of a lot of common assumptions about what a "good" education entails, and tries to evaluate what's actually worth doing in the classroom. The End of Education has some of the same magic, but for every brilliantly snarky observation, there's some snobbishly pretentious idea to counterbalance it. I appreciate Postman's scathing wit and vicious skepticism--he takes very little for granted, and he's willing to challenge every conventional idea about education from the bottom up. But I also get the sense that he got a little more conservative as he got older (this was written 26 years after Subversive Activity), and there's some snobby old white man energy in this book that I don't find especially useful. The End of Education is a provocatively misleading title--what he really means is "The Larger Purpose of Education," as in "the means and the ends." Basically, Postman is saying that the current narrative that's supposed to give meaning to schooling--which he calls "the god of Economic Utility"--is neither inspiring nor believable nor powerful enough to make education worthwhile. As he describes it: "[...] Many believe it to be the preeminent reason for schooling: the god of Economic Utility. As its name suggests, it is a passionless god, cold and severe. But it makes a promise, and not a trivial one. Addressing the young, it offers a covenant of sorts with them: If you will pay attention in school, and do your homework, and score well on tests, and behave yourself, you will be rewarded with a well-paying job when you are done. Its driving idea is that the purpose of schooling is to prepare children for competent entry into the economic life of the community. [...] The story tells us that we are first and foremost economic creatures, and that our sense of worth and purpose is to be found in our capacity to secure material benefits. According to this god, you are what you do for a living. Goodness inheres in productivity, efficiency, and organization; evil in inefficiency and sloth." Postman proceeds to trash this "purpose," and he spends the rest of the book searching for a new one: a larger narrative to explain why kids should be educated, and how. This is a hugely ambitious project, and this ambition is both exciting and, ultimately, overwhelming: the project feels too big for Postman, and the second half of this book becomes a bit indulgent and rambling as he gets lost in the epicness of his scope. From a philosophical perspective, this book is often exciting; from a practical pedagogical perspective, this book is basically worthless. But teachers should think about this way more often than they do: What's the point of schooling, exactly? What's it trying to achieve? What's the larger narrative that gives it meaning and purpose? What is its role in society, exactly? How much should it reflect the world vs. shape it? How can teachers harness the boundless energy and potential of young people for the forces of good rather than the forces of evil (or the forces of indifference)? How can we make school more galvanizing and less demoralizing? And so forth.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris J

    This book is divided into two sections: books 1 and 2. Book 1 is quite nearly mandatory reading. Book 2 is far less so.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teun Voost

    A crucial book for anyone who's even slightly interested in education. Be prepared to rethink everything you think you know of education. Postman brilliantly shows insights which make every teacher smile while reading them. Ideas that every teacher thinks of but doesn't say, or ideas that every teacher says but doesn't think about more deeply are discussed. Perhaps if we all would listen to Postman a little more, and pay a little more attention to our own practices, we would be able to reform th A crucial book for anyone who's even slightly interested in education. Be prepared to rethink everything you think you know of education. Postman brilliantly shows insights which make every teacher smile while reading them. Ideas that every teacher thinks of but doesn't say, or ideas that every teacher says but doesn't think about more deeply are discussed. Perhaps if we all would listen to Postman a little more, and pay a little more attention to our own practices, we would be able to reform the educational system to a system of sustainability and profound quality. Loved reading it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Presence

    Have yet to read a Postman book I haven't loved. Have yet to read a Postman book I haven't loved.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Heiner

    Professor Postman's books tend to be timeless, though he does suffer from dropping in references that try too hard to be relevant to the time that he is writing in - perhaps an unconscious need to seem "cool" to his college students over the years. That said, it's more amusing than annoying, and doesn't happen frequently enough to take away from what are often thought-provoking strains of thought. Written in 1995, Postman had not yet seen the rise of MOOCs and the disruption and decentralization Professor Postman's books tend to be timeless, though he does suffer from dropping in references that try too hard to be relevant to the time that he is writing in - perhaps an unconscious need to seem "cool" to his college students over the years. That said, it's more amusing than annoying, and doesn't happen frequently enough to take away from what are often thought-provoking strains of thought. Written in 1995, Postman had not yet seen the rise of MOOCs and the disruption and decentralization of education that is happening and continues to happen as the internet forever removes schoolrooms as claimants to the monopoly of "education." Good riddance, too. Universal public education hasn't been around that long, and it has failed to deliver its promises, across dozens of countries and cultures (if not more). It was Chesterton who said something to the effect of he would advocate more for public education if it produced an educated public. You only have to look around in any developed country to see that it hasn't. Teaching people to read is not the same as teaching them to think, and we have a woeful lack of the latter. As good as his commentary might be, Professor Postman fails to see that without a unifying story of how/why we are as humans, the impetus to learn (and school) will always be an imperative without a soul-satisfying purpose. It is the wonder of catching ahold of an enchanted universe that drives the best scientific research, art, music, poetry, and literature. Commenting on one strain of America's narrative in her schools: "...the tale of the Protestant ethic...the story tells us that we are first and foremost economic creatures, and that our sense of worth and purpose is to be found in our capacity to secure material benefits" (p. 28) In response to Presidential policy to task schools with vocational learning: "Of course, this is exactly the wrong solution, since the making of adaptable, curious, open, questioning people has nothing to do with vocational training and everything to do with humanistic and scientific studies." (p. 32) On the unreasonable load that modern society expects teachers to carry: "The principal argument is that teachers are not competent to serve as priests, psychologists, therapists, political reformers, social workers, sex advisers, or parents." (p. 143)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    The end of education. The END of education. Deliberately obfuscatory, Postman delivers a powerful vision of what is the point of education. I was spellbound by his holistic approach to a classroom, and how inquiry and exploration should be shifted to the center of education. We experience, talk about, and interact with the world in ways different than we have before, and classrooms should embrace the abstract, imperfect nature of knowledge, rather than cling to the rigid catalog of knowledge pan The end of education. The END of education. Deliberately obfuscatory, Postman delivers a powerful vision of what is the point of education. I was spellbound by his holistic approach to a classroom, and how inquiry and exploration should be shifted to the center of education. We experience, talk about, and interact with the world in ways different than we have before, and classrooms should embrace the abstract, imperfect nature of knowledge, rather than cling to the rigid catalog of knowledge pandered by schools. What students need to be prepared for in this world is not what schools train them for, is one take-away from this book. Particularly in the sections on language, and in his metaphors for what learning is and should be, did I find a serious, powerful, and essential book for me as an educator - and a humanist. Most applicable to me is his discussion of technology and how its advance isn't additive, but "ecologically" competitive - new technologies literally drive out others, and we change as a result. In one of my classes next year, every student will have an iPad, and I assumed that I would spend the summer engaged in a titanic struggle with how my use of technology will add, rather than substract, from my students' learning. Having read Postman, now I wonder how their learning will simply be different, rather than better. Can this new technology make my class more interesting, more thought-provoking, more deserving of an "inquiry"-based approach than one without? I now perceive my Summer as a way to make sure this technology doesn't hinder the learning, or provide a distraction from learning.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Terry

    The book begins by talking about the gods we serve in America and the necessity of having gods to give meaning to our lives. Then he talks about gods we serve that fail us, specifically the gods of economic utility, consumerism, technology, and ethnic separatism. The point of all this is to show how the narratives supporting these gods affect public education. The second half of the book talks about specific recommendations for preserving public schools that will produce an American public that The book begins by talking about the gods we serve in America and the necessity of having gods to give meaning to our lives. Then he talks about gods we serve that fail us, specifically the gods of economic utility, consumerism, technology, and ethnic separatism. The point of all this is to show how the narratives supporting these gods affect public education. The second half of the book talks about specific recommendations for preserving public schools that will produce an American public that is concerned about global citizenship and America's traditions. Postman is an excellent, readable writer, but he verges on rant toward the end of the book. I found myself wishing that the book had been written more recently because public education has changed dramatically since 1995, especially since No Child Left Behind. I have a feeling that the rant would be even stronger if he wrote a sequel.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I loved this book and now have a minor intellectual crush on Postman. In my graduate program, there are so many elementary/secondary teachers who bemoan NCLB and the current education system- all want to start incorporating technology and global issues into their classroom, but have little power to do so. Postman's idea of restructuring the system around a grand narrative- gods that will stand the test of time and mean something- is fantastic. The ridiculous thing is that most of the people who I loved this book and now have a minor intellectual crush on Postman. In my graduate program, there are so many elementary/secondary teachers who bemoan NCLB and the current education system- all want to start incorporating technology and global issues into their classroom, but have little power to do so. Postman's idea of restructuring the system around a grand narrative- gods that will stand the test of time and mean something- is fantastic. The ridiculous thing is that most of the people who wield the power to review/change the educational system will write this off as sensational or overly optimistic. The educational system in America needs just as much- if not more- attention as health care, airport security, and climate change-- but we're letting it rest on the back burner.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    Loved this book. Despite it being 16 years old (which was interesting in and of itself, knowing where we've come with technology & education since Postman authored the book)this book made such thought-provoking & profound points. And in the burgeoning experimental era we're in with charter schools, his ideas on re-thinking schools are rather brilliant ones that someone should explore. Though we're still mired in NCLB, any self-respecting teacher will see that Postman's notions would offer a much Loved this book. Despite it being 16 years old (which was interesting in and of itself, knowing where we've come with technology & education since Postman authored the book)this book made such thought-provoking & profound points. And in the burgeoning experimental era we're in with charter schools, his ideas on re-thinking schools are rather brilliant ones that someone should explore. Though we're still mired in NCLB, any self-respecting teacher will see that Postman's notions would offer a much richer classroom experience than most kids are engaged in today.

  14. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    Great ideas but long winded writing. Had a hard time getting through second half of book. Ideas themselves are top notch. I wish the author would have condensed his style.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    This book impressed me. With erudition, conviction, and a little snark, Neil Postman writes on the aims of education. School creates the public, he says, and creating an ideal public depends on “the existence of shared narratives and the capacity of such narratives to provide an inspired reason for schooling.” These narratives, he writes, need to offer “moral guidance, a sense of continuity, explanations of the past, clarity to the present, and hope for the future.” Postman identifies narratives This book impressed me. With erudition, conviction, and a little snark, Neil Postman writes on the aims of education. School creates the public, he says, and creating an ideal public depends on “the existence of shared narratives and the capacity of such narratives to provide an inspired reason for schooling.” These narratives, he writes, need to offer “moral guidance, a sense of continuity, explanations of the past, clarity to the present, and hope for the future.” Postman identifies narratives that don’t meet these requirements: Economic Utility, Consumership, Technology, and Separatism. Economic Utility is the “get an education to get a good job” rationale. Consumership is the “get an education to make a good living and buy stuff” rationale. “Separatism” is what he calls “multiculturalism,” which he distinguishes from Cultural Pluralism in this way: Multiculturalism focuses on the differences among diverse groups and is not desirable because its intent (or at least its effect) is to divide, whereas Cultural Pluralism honors the contributions of all. This part I found striking because it goes against the prevailing narrative (the book was published in 1995), and it reads a little like heresy for me as a progressive. I have been part of teachers’ groups that advocate completely removing the work of “dead white men” from the curriculum. This is the kind of thinking Postman cautions against. In writing about the work of marginalized authors, he says, “In the story of diversity, we do not learn of these people to advance a political agenda or to raise the level of students’ self-esteem. We learn about these people for two reasons: because they demonstrate how the vitality and creativity of humanity depend on diversity, and because they have set the standards to which civilized people adhere.” I agree, although the “civilized people” part of the statement is obviously problematic. My best guess for what he means by “civilized” here is “educated.” One of the major elements of a good education, he says, is diversity, so it doesn’t seem that he wants to limit the curriculum to dead white men; rather, he views a discipline’s standards of excellence, its canon, as a living entity that is capable of changing. The five “narratives” he describes as possible “ends” for an education are as follows: 1. “Spaceship Earth.” Humans as stewards of the planet. A sense of awe, interdependence, and global responsibility. He proposes that all students learn archaeology (prehistory), anthropology, & astronomy. 2. “The Fallen Angel.” The limits of human knowledge, a view of history and the advancement of knowledge as a series of errors and corrections. This is what Robert Maynard Hutchins meant by “The Great Conversation”--as knowledge is passed on, it’s modified, refined, and corrected. He proposes that all subjects be taught from a historical perspective. 3. “The American Experiment.” America as a great experiment and center of continuous argument. 4. “The Laws of Diversity.” Difference contributes to increased vitality and excellence, and, ultimately, to a sense of unity. 5. "The Word Weavers/The World Makers." We create the world through language. If you're interested in exploring what school is for, this is totally worth a read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    William

    This man of posts has written about a time when the education must end. Just too much education happening when other things need taking care of. Postman says we've moved into relaxation, and that's where man's hearts truly be. We are the highly relaxed generation and need to put our relaxation techniques to proper use. We've reclined in so many positions and yet there are infinitely more positions in which one can find repose. We've conquered the fetal position but have yet to explore the possib This man of posts has written about a time when the education must end. Just too much education happening when other things need taking care of. Postman says we've moved into relaxation, and that's where man's hearts truly be. We are the highly relaxed generation and need to put our relaxation techniques to proper use. We've reclined in so many positions and yet there are infinitely more positions in which one can find repose. We've conquered the fetal position but have yet to explore the possibilities of the Neo-fetal position or the toddler position. We've explored every nook and cranny of the lotus position but have yet to appreciate the subtleties of the daffodil position or even the milkweed pose. I think I understood everything about this book and agree with Posts that education must end here and now and forever.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chrisanne

    Neil Postman remains oddly prophetic regarding the progress(or regress) of the education system. Though this is almost 30 years old, he presents a disheartening view of the ways in which our system is failing our kids(and it doesn't end in 12th grade). He also presents several solutions that it would be interesting to try(particularly the no- textbook solution). His disgust for the typical classroom makes me wonder if he practiced what he preached. Neil Postman remains oddly prophetic regarding the progress(or regress) of the education system. Though this is almost 30 years old, he presents a disheartening view of the ways in which our system is failing our kids(and it doesn't end in 12th grade). He also presents several solutions that it would be interesting to try(particularly the no- textbook solution). His disgust for the typical classroom makes me wonder if he practiced what he preached.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abbi Dion

    "It hardly needs to be said that one of the purposes of an education is to give us greater control of our situation." Bernard Shaw was asked, 'why do we need theater?' and he responded "It is an elucidator of social consciousness, a historian of the future, an armory against darkness and despair, and a temple in the ascent of man." "Tolerance is irrelevant when there is universal agreement. When there is diversity of opinion, tolerance becomes, if you will, a god to serve." "The principle argument "It hardly needs to be said that one of the purposes of an education is to give us greater control of our situation." Bernard Shaw was asked, 'why do we need theater?' and he responded "It is an elucidator of social consciousness, a historian of the future, an armory against darkness and despair, and a temple in the ascent of man." "Tolerance is irrelevant when there is universal agreement. When there is diversity of opinion, tolerance becomes, if you will, a god to serve." "The principle argument is that teachers are not competent to serve as priests psychologists, therapists, political reformers, social workers, sex advisers, or parents. That some teachers may wish to do so is understandable, since in this way they may elevate their prestige." "The reasons for serious foreign-language learning are many and various. First among them is that a foreign language provides one with entry into a worldview different from one's own." "Slang is a form of colloquial speech that has a bad reputation, largely perpetuated by schoolteachers. They have a point, since slang is almost always created in a spirit of defiance, which is why its most consistent creators are those from disaffected groups, people with grievances." "Of course, in one sense, we have here an old argument; people have always worried about whether technology demeans or enriches our humanity." "Is it possible to preserve the best of American traditions and social institutions while allowing uncontrolled technological development?" "There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong." "... people in distress will sometimes prefer a problem that is familiar to a solution that is not." "Even if a narrative places one in hell, it is better there than to be nowhere. To be nowhere means to live in a barren culture, one that offers no vision of the past or future, no clear voice of authority, no organizing principles." "...the moral I prefer is that a sense of responsibility for the planet is born from a sense of responsibility for one's own neighborhood." "Our engagement with language almost always has a moral dimension, a point that has been emphasized by every great philosopher..." "The lesson here is that sameness is the enemy of vitality and creativity." "Our genius lies in our capacity to make meaning through the creation of narratives that give point to our labors, exalt our history, elucidate the present, and give direction to our future." "Without a narrative, life has no meaning. Without meaning, learning has no purpose. Without a purpose, schools are houses of detention not attention." "... a story--not any kind of story, but one that tells of origins and envisions a future, a story that constructs ideals, prescribes rules of conduct, provides a source of authority, and, above all, gives a sense of continuity and purpose. A god, in the sense i am using the word, is the name of a great narrative, one that has sufficient credibility, complexity, and symbolic power to enable one to organize one's life around it." "There is nothing that happens among humans that is not instigated negotiated, clarified, or mystified by language." "At present, there is very little tolerance for error in the classroom [...] one of the best reasons for using computers in the classroom is that computers force the environment to be more tolerant of error [...] The computer does not humiliate students for being wrong and it encourages them to try again." "Knowledge is presented as a commodity to be acquired, never as a human struggle to understand, to overcome falsity, to stumble toward the truth." ... or just to stumble. "To remain ignorant of things that happened before you were born is to remain a child." Cicero "The scientific method is nothing but the normal working of the human mind." Thomas Henry Huxley "There is no sure-cure so idiotic that some superintendent of schools will not swallow it. The aim seems to be to reduce the whole teaching process to a sort of automatic reaction, to discover some master formula that will not only take the place of competence and resourcefulness in the teacher but that will also create an artificial receptivity in the child." H.L. Mencken "You can give humanistic value to almost anything by teaching it historically." William James "When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself." Socrates "For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." Ecclesiastes (1:18) Also, this book offers a brief and interesting discussion of Alfred Korzybski. Cheers!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    It is both impressive and depressing that a book about education written 23 years ago may have more salience now that at the time it was written. “The End of Education” addresses many of the complicated question about public education with a perspective that is simultaneously conservative and radically subversive. Postman defends the traditional role of public education in crafting a common culture, the conservative bits, while outlining curriculum content and pedagogical approaches that could p It is both impressive and depressing that a book about education written 23 years ago may have more salience now that at the time it was written. “The End of Education” addresses many of the complicated question about public education with a perspective that is simultaneously conservative and radically subversive. Postman defends the traditional role of public education in crafting a common culture, the conservative bits, while outlining curriculum content and pedagogical approaches that could please much of today’s SJW left.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom Cork

    I initially enjoyed this book, whose thesis is that students have begun to enter a system in which we do not value education as a democratic ideal, but rather as a means to an economic end. I found the idea radical and was intrigued. The author continued to say that we are not worshipping any 'gods' in the classroom, and that we need to rally around a common educational mission imbued with deeper spirit. The plot thinned, however, once the author began to reveal his own religious and social leani I initially enjoyed this book, whose thesis is that students have begun to enter a system in which we do not value education as a democratic ideal, but rather as a means to an economic end. I found the idea radical and was intrigued. The author continued to say that we are not worshipping any 'gods' in the classroom, and that we need to rally around a common educational mission imbued with deeper spirit. The plot thinned, however, once the author began to reveal his own religious and social leanings. One of the 'false gods' of education Postman decried was that of multiculturalism, which he blames to have created the opposite of a pluralistic society. If we are trying to admire all cultures, Postman asserts, then we will be unable to create a central culture for our students. This opinion would not rankle so much if it were backed up by any empirical or literary evidence, but instead, the author decides to present his own viewpoint with no outside references for over a hundred pages. The crusade against multiculturalism begins to sound like a stereotypical white man fervently speaking out for a common culture that is his own. The threads of religion and nationalism also run through this book, as gods (lowercase 'g,' the author points out) that Postman thinks we should be worshipping in our pursuit of education. I apologize to the author for my own bias, but I cannot accept your viewpoint without substantiation. Overall, I understand Postman's positions, but in the end, that's all they are--positions. Without a more in-depth study of these issues, relying not just on opinions but also on evidence and references to other academics, this book is more of a light treatise than an actual study.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    The End of Education title is a double-entendre meaning not only the possible ending of education as we know it, and also an exploration of purpose of education. He anticipates the way in which teachers generally plan for education now, with the end in mind with this second meaning. Neil Postman writing in the 90s is among the most 1990s things I can conceive of. What this means is that while he's very very on to something about the failures of contemporary education, that focuses on an unthinki The End of Education title is a double-entendre meaning not only the possible ending of education as we know it, and also an exploration of purpose of education. He anticipates the way in which teachers generally plan for education now, with the end in mind with this second meaning. Neil Postman writing in the 90s is among the most 1990s things I can conceive of. What this means is that while he's very very on to something about the failures of contemporary education, that focuses on an unthinking adoption of technology for technology's sake and for education to be a capitalist cog-making machine. Both of these are incredibly fair critiques that still resonate with education today in my experiences as a teacher. I don't think the technology part is changing, and is getting worse, but I do think there's some push-back to the capitalism cog-making part, but that's also complicated. He discusses how as purposes for education these fail for a lot of reasons, the most being that they are too limited, too specific, and too depressing/uninspiring for kids. They might make good workers, but they don't make good people. Postman suggests a number of new narratives to replace these two, and a few of these are quite good. Seeing ourselves (teachers, students, citizens) as "fallen angels", crew members of "Spaceship Earth" and "World Makers" (storytellers). All good. He falls over himself in two other areas. He cannot shut up about how much he hates multiculturism and how much he wants schools to teach to love America. His opinions about multiculturism are not only out-dated and racists, they completely ignore that multiculturism developed out of systemic inequality that really made it impossible for a straight up "you should love America" agenda to be taken seriously without significant reform, and of course he misses the most important issue: teaching about "loving America" and those other traditional values is also identity politics and race-based teaching, through teaching whiteness as default.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Moktoklee

    A very entertaining book. Postman know how to grab the reader's attention and then hold onto them. If anyone can make any aspect of the formal education system seem appetizing, I don't know if anyone could do it better than Neil. His sections on multiculturalism and the necessity of Gods are spot on. That being said, I can't help but think that Postman makes too many jumps in logic. Postman assumes that children don't find enjoyment in learning and would never end up finding out right from wrong A very entertaining book. Postman know how to grab the reader's attention and then hold onto them. If anyone can make any aspect of the formal education system seem appetizing, I don't know if anyone could do it better than Neil. His sections on multiculturalism and the necessity of Gods are spot on. That being said, I can't help but think that Postman makes too many jumps in logic. Postman assumes that children don't find enjoyment in learning and would never end up finding out right from wrong if they were left to their own devices, or for that matter, their parents. Out of personal experience, I can't help but find this reasoning to be unfounded and just plain wrong. Postman assumes that children in a more freestyle based form of education would never complete any worth while accomplishments. While a child moving directly from the formal education route would undoubtedly encounter some difficulty finding self-motivation, children who were brought up in a freestyle educational environment would be able to achieve much more than the maximum 100% that limits children in the formal education system. All this being said, I think that Postman and I would have been able to have constructive conversations. Maybe not get along, but still have a great deal of respect for each other.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rena Jane

    I recently finished American Fascists by Chris Hedges, and it seemed like Neil Postman was writing the education response to Hedges book. Though Postman wrote the book 16 years ago, many of his concerns are still very relevant. (Education reform and changes don't happen quickly, even when they need to.) Postman's book is a real reality check on education, and incorporates his vision of what education is meant to accomplish. By his standards, which I have to strongly agree with, we aren't meeting I recently finished American Fascists by Chris Hedges, and it seemed like Neil Postman was writing the education response to Hedges book. Though Postman wrote the book 16 years ago, many of his concerns are still very relevant. (Education reform and changes don't happen quickly, even when they need to.) Postman's book is a real reality check on education, and incorporates his vision of what education is meant to accomplish. By his standards, which I have to strongly agree with, we aren't meeting our goals at all effectively. He says so in just so many words, too, with suggestions of throwing out the boring textbooks, and teaching students manners and with Socratic dialogue instead of trying to cram irrelevant and unconnected ideas in their head for them to regurgitate in Standardized Testing. I didn't find many suggestions in Postman's monologue that I would use to improve my teaching, but I agree with his assessment of current education's failure to engage, excite or prepare our young people for the challenges they are facing in our changing world. The constant testing, and boring textbooks are part of the education problem. Sadly, it sounds as if Mr. Postman has been out of the classroom for a long time, too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Waring-Crane

    Postman's argument that American public schooling should create an American public made sense and yet seemed strangely novel. As an elementary school teacher (in another life) I felt swamped with meeting benchmarks, maintaining order, teaching the basics, etc -- none of which included fostering a love of country. Postman, like Ken Robinson, roundly criticizes education for failing students; Postman, for lack of civic minded-ness, a sense of history, and understanding that each person on "space-s Postman's argument that American public schooling should create an American public made sense and yet seemed strangely novel. As an elementary school teacher (in another life) I felt swamped with meeting benchmarks, maintaining order, teaching the basics, etc -- none of which included fostering a love of country. Postman, like Ken Robinson, roundly criticizes education for failing students; Postman, for lack of civic minded-ness, a sense of history, and understanding that each person on "space-ship earth" is connected, Robinson for lack of creative cultivation. Indeed, after reading these authors back to back I feel formal education is almost beyond the scope of reform. But it is what we have and somehow, most students that complete grade twelve emerge with tools enough to apply for school loans and college. Dated, dense writing style. Curmudgeon-toned.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna-karin

    The title of the book is purposefully misleading, the definition of "end" that the author leans toward being the "purpose" of education. The author is tremendously bright but not an intellectual show-off; he's also quite cantankerous and yet optimistic. I really enjoyed the way he pushed social boundaries to see what was really worth keeping. His definition of diversity is definitely the best one I have come across. Anything I can say about this book will just come out flat compared to the autho The title of the book is purposefully misleading, the definition of "end" that the author leans toward being the "purpose" of education. The author is tremendously bright but not an intellectual show-off; he's also quite cantankerous and yet optimistic. I really enjoyed the way he pushed social boundaries to see what was really worth keeping. His definition of diversity is definitely the best one I have come across. Anything I can say about this book will just come out flat compared to the author's witty writing style (though that's obviously not stopping me from trying). I especially appreciated his respect for and confidence in students and their ability to learn and question. Thought-provoking? More like thought-inciting. Fomenting rebellion -- for a good cause.

  26. 4 out of 5

    آية العوبلّي

    "All children enter school system as question marks and leave as periods", says Postman. This book will dig down the roots of the educational system asking the 'why' we tend to ignore by focusing on the 'how'. Postman will not only trigger the question of the 'why' in the context of schools, but he will also leave you wondering: why do we in, and outside schools, in our daily interactions, relationships and events, start off the experience of life as question marks, and transform into periods (? "All children enter school system as question marks and leave as periods", says Postman. This book will dig down the roots of the educational system asking the 'why' we tend to ignore by focusing on the 'how'. Postman will not only trigger the question of the 'why' in the context of schools, but he will also leave you wondering: why do we in, and outside schools, in our daily interactions, relationships and events, start off the experience of life as question marks, and transform into periods (?).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hestia Istiviani

    Many parents, in fact, are apt to like the idea of school as a primary training ground for future employment, as do many corporate executives. This is why the story of Economic Utility is told and retold in television commercials and political speeches as the reason why children should go to school, and stay in school...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Offers some ideas for solving or ameliorating the problem of students not having an inspiring reason to be active in their education. His solutions are metaphorically termed "gods," which offer narratives for explaining the past and guiding the present and future. Offers some ideas for solving or ameliorating the problem of students not having an inspiring reason to be active in their education. His solutions are metaphorically termed "gods," which offer narratives for explaining the past and guiding the present and future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Poiema

    I do appreciate Postman's thrust to include media ecology as part of a well-rounded education. Technology is not necessarily a gift; it may destroy more than it gives. I do appreciate Postman's thrust to include media ecology as part of a well-rounded education. Technology is not necessarily a gift; it may destroy more than it gives.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pancho

    Required reading for an philosophy of education class. An interesting look into education. I am not sure I took anything away from it but I did enjoy it.

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