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The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

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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. 5 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. 5 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. 4 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. 5 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. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Presence

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

  8. 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)

  9. 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.

  10. 5 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.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 4 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.

  15. 4 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!

  16. 4 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 5 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 5 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 (?).

  23. 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.

  24. 5 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.

  25. 5 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Talbot Hook

    Excellent ideas for one of the largest oversights in education.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pashew Majeed

    Pashew M. Nuri Mu Blog: http://pashewmajeed.blogspot.com/ There should lay a problem to which a book or a writing is a solution for. No one can deny on the fact that as long as education is dealing with human beings there will be problems, in a way I sometimes define educators as problem solvers, as they are constantly dealing with problems within the bounds of school buildings. The End of Education might stand to answer some questions of the school problems as Postman sees them two dimensional. O Pashew M. Nuri Mu Blog: http://pashewmajeed.blogspot.com/ There should lay a problem to which a book or a writing is a solution for. No one can deny on the fact that as long as education is dealing with human beings there will be problems, in a way I sometimes define educators as problem solvers, as they are constantly dealing with problems within the bounds of school buildings. The End of Education might stand to answer some questions of the school problems as Postman sees them two dimensional. One is the engineering side of it, that is the means by which young people acquire an education. The other one is the metaphysical that is the underlying purpose or mission or the end of education. Postman believes that primary focus is mostly on the engineering aspect of the education today, while very little attention is paid to the metaphysics of schooling. He says "without a transcendent and honorable purpose schooling must reach its finish, and the sooner we are done with it, the better." (p - x-xi). To give that meaning and reason to education is the answer to the why rather than the what and the how in the process, and that is because he thinks if the teachers, parents and the children do not have a purpose, if they do not believe in anything or they do not have a god to serve, then the schools become houses of detention rather that attention. So it is significant to have a shared or common narrative that we can live by, because “public education” Postman says “depends absolutely on the existence of shared narratives and the exclusion of narratives that lead to alienation and divisiveness” (p- 17) he continues to say "What makes public schools public, is not so much that the schools have common goals but that the students have common gods" as “public education does not serve a public. It create a public” and this is solely inspired by a reason, a shared narrative that all are in service to. I think this idea interests E.D Hirsch a lot as he too claims for a culturally literate community through having students focused on their own culture, yet that of Postman is not specified as he claims for an education with purpose, a purpose that is meaningful and future promising for the human being. The “End” could have two meanings according to the context of this book, one which literally leads to an end, a point of no return and the other is the purpose and the meaning for whatever we do in this worldly life, but for what Postman is talking about a purpose or a meaning for education. He says that either meaning could apply for the future of schooling. As he claims that education is absent and that is the reason for him to write the book, he states “I return to the subject [of education] now, not because the education world has suffered from my absence, but because I have [suffered from the absence of education]” (p - ix). For him education or more specifically schooling is about making a life not making a living. Postman throughout the book describes some current gods that are being served as false gods. The god of economic utility, technology, consumerism, and multiculturalism, he says that these god are not capable of providing a well off education and maintaining a life worth living. The stories of those gods are pointless and the future with worshipping those is not promising. In serving those false gods the chance of a better life is scarce as the knowledge of life is imparted and the purposes are timely or in another word mortal. While the educators are master minds of it, they are not as those in past because he says “There was a time when educators became famous for providing reasons for learning; now they become famous for inventing a method” (p- 26) and this an attempt to impart knowledge or reason as the school can not resist without a reason for its being. As an alternative to those currently false gods being served in our education system, he presents some narratives that he thinks they could serve us better. "Spaceship Earth" (that humans are responsible for and stewards of the planet); "The American Experiment" (the story of America as a great experiment and as a center of continuous argument); "The Fallen Angel" (history and the advancement of knowledge as a series of making mistake and correction); "The Laws of Diversity" (difference contributes to increased vitality and excellence, and, ultimately, to a sense of unity); and "The Word Weavers/The World Makers" (the understanding that the world is created through language, through definitions, questions, and metaphors). The overall intention of his in this, is to stress on the promotion of the purpose for what we do in education instead of the engineering aspects of it like the assessment, evaluation, curriculum, management and all the other engineering issues, but rather to focus more on the metaphysical one. As for him the why question, the reason for what we live for makes it easier for us how to live. As Friedrich Nietzsche remarks “he who has a why can bear with almost any how”. What his means is, if we know for what we are schooling our kids, the methodology of how to do that will be much easier and the dimension get to change. teachers know why do they teach, principal realize their role in designing the school generation, parents are able to see what they are dreaming of and the kids themselves are better in understanding their role for society and the humanity in general. This does not mean that teachers, parents, and kids should think of one think or believe in the same thing. In those school back there In the Western world, beginning in the thirteenth century and for five hundred years afterward, this why question, the reason, was sufficient justification for the founding of institutions of learning. Even today, there are some schools in the West, and most in the Islamic world, whose central purpose is to serve and celebrate the glory of God, to serve one purpose and this eliminates the school problems and crisis. There may be some disputes over what subjects best promote piety, obedience, and faith; there may be students who are skeptical, even teachers who are nonbelievers. But at the core of such schools, there is a transcendent, spiritual idea that gives purpose and clarity to learning. Even the skeptics and nonbelievers know why they are there, what they are supposed to be learning, and why they are resistant to it (p- 4). This central purpose is not of worldly or insufficient one, but rather a purpose that elevates the centrality of why do we live? Where will we go? When those purposes and meanings may not be found by the students themselves, that is why we have teachers. This contrasts with some of the negative understandings of democracy in education today, for the reason that kids are able to control and determine their own future. This means that students are born with the answers to the mind-shaking questions of life and the world, while it is clear that it is not like that. If they know the answer then what is the philosophy of having education anyway? There is a school called The Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts claiming to have a democratic view of education where children are free to do or choose anything they want in the school period, there were students playing cards and some others playing music while the visits to the library and reading was very seldom. The reporter asked one of the students what are going to do today? The kid replied an I don’t know answer. All of this is because the twenty first century kids are capable of controlling their destiny and their future as one of the staff members stated. How a kid is able to choose his/her own destiny when he/she does not know what he/she will do or learn in the rest of the day at school? Now, this idea may be able to find a room in Postman’s book, as to him I find it, this one also is a false god to be served or in another word this is not a god to be served. Finally, the implications of those narratives in the schools may be hard for the education system to digest but I am content that having a core value, or a central purpose to which all live by and strive to achieve it is indispensable. We all know that it is only education which is that starting and turning point of individuals in the face of this earth, but when this education is lead to triviality results in human’s self-distraction. The word education is always a positive word but when it comes to schooling, changes. That is I think is because of difference and diversity. So, when we embrace each other to live to a core end of our lives we shall not have a bad end, but a happy one. References: Postman, N. (1995). The End Of Education: Redefining the Value Of School. New York: Knopf. Sudbury Valley School, YouTube video: taken from http://youtu.be/awOAmTaZ4XI

  28. 5 out of 5

    CTEP

    In January, I read The End of Education by Neil Postman. I read a few of his articles in college, and heard about Technopoly but haven't been able to get my hands on it yet. I can guarantee that I spent well more than 10 hours trying to get my mind wrapped around this book. Postman attempts to solve the problems in the educational system in the United States by addressing what he refers to as the “why” of education. Rather than worrying about how long students should be in school, or the teacher In January, I read The End of Education by Neil Postman. I read a few of his articles in college, and heard about Technopoly but haven't been able to get my hands on it yet. I can guarantee that I spent well more than 10 hours trying to get my mind wrapped around this book. Postman attempts to solve the problems in the educational system in the United States by addressing what he refers to as the “why” of education. Rather than worrying about how long students should be in school, or the teacher to student ratio, or any other structural, “how” issues, Postman argues that what we really need is a clarification on the purpose of education. Along the way, he ties in ideas about diversity, technology, multiculturalism, philosophy, civic engagement, citizenship, and more. This book was published in 1995 and while a lot has changed since then, Postman has some good ideas that shouldn’t be ignored—especially by AmeriCorps members and others interested in service as the means to learning. He tells a “fable” about New York City sometime in the future. The city is falling apart, students are apathetic at best, people have lost hope, etc. An aide to the mayor runs across a quote about civic engagement from Walden that moves him to save the city by overhauling the school system. Students of certain ages are required to spend portions of their day on activities that will save the city. “Wednesday mornings were reserved for beautifying the city. Students planted trees and flowers, tended the grass and shrubs, painted subways and other eyesores, and even repaired broken-down public buildings, starting with their own schools” (97). Other students helped deliver mail, worked in daycare centers, and published neighborhood newspapers. Some were required to organize science fairs and community gatherings, and others assisted in hospitals and nursing homes. It’s a fable, so of course the plan worked. “The city began to come alive, and its citizens found new reason to hope that they could save themselves. Young people who had been alienated from their environment assumed a proprietary interest in it. Older people who had regarded the young as unruly and parasitic came to respect them…. Amazingly, most of the students found that while they did not ‘receive’ an education, they were able to create a quite adequate one” (98-99). This fable appeared on its own as a short essay in the New York Times Magazine, and I probably should have just read that. (You should: http://bit.ly/postman-fable.) It’s a visionary argument for teaching young people about the impact they can have on their community by empowering them to impact the community, and teaching them that their perspective matters by enabling them to share their perspective. True, students spending more time on civic engagement and service learning might not be able to tell you the difference between differential calculus and integral calculus. But I know the difference, and all it makes me think about is why I quit math. Postman’s ideas might not be entirely practical, but are definitely worth studying and working towards.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniëlle Van den Brink

    "Profound but contradictory ideas may exist side by side, if they are constructed from different materials and methods and have different purposes. Each tells us something important about where we stand in the universe, and it is foolish to insist that they must despise each other." A renewed sense of responsibility, curiosity, awareness and growth enabled by diversity in religion, culture and language. That should be the foundation of education according to Postman. There is great potential is s "Profound but contradictory ideas may exist side by side, if they are constructed from different materials and methods and have different purposes. Each tells us something important about where we stand in the universe, and it is foolish to insist that they must despise each other." A renewed sense of responsibility, curiosity, awareness and growth enabled by diversity in religion, culture and language. That should be the foundation of education according to Postman. There is great potential is schooling but it is lost in a sea of unwarranted rules and backwards requirements. Teachers proudly say they attempt to teach critical thinking but don't think twice when they provide their students with scripted material that is not open to questioning. Quite disturbing when you think about it. The teachers are not the only ones doing harm. In fact, they are often victim of the regulations they are forced to stick to. Schools haven't evolved nearly enough to keep up with our modern society. Students are taught how to use technology but not about what it has done and is doing for/to our society. Too often are they simply provided with rules and regulations they need to "know" by heart without being fully aware of the implications. One of Postman's most compelling suggestions is to teach courses from a historical point of view, by means of treating our current knowledge on a subject to be the best we have to offer at the moment. From there, students should be taught where it comes from, including all the stumbled humanity made on its way to success and be given the opportunity to consider how it could be improved. It is an ambitious thought and not easily done but it would provide so much perspective for both learners and teachers. It is quite the masterpiece... Postman does not only address the problems in our current educational system but dives deep into their origins and what we can go to turn things around. He acknowledges the difficulty in changing and remains critical, even of his own ideas. A very impressive book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zack

    Postman gets something of a bad rap for being cynical about the world around him - but what I think he really is is hopeful, yet not optimistic, and this can be, admittedly, off-putting. Particularly when he writes about things that people love, like technology, or, in this instance, education. As my wife, who is a teacher, says, everything has an opinion about education since it is something they feel they are familiar with, even if they haven't stepped in the halls of a school for years or wer Postman gets something of a bad rap for being cynical about the world around him - but what I think he really is is hopeful, yet not optimistic, and this can be, admittedly, off-putting. Particularly when he writes about things that people love, like technology, or, in this instance, education. As my wife, who is a teacher, says, everything has an opinion about education since it is something they feel they are familiar with, even if they haven't stepped in the halls of a school for years or were entirely disengaged during their own journey through our nation's educational system. In a way, this book is kind of for those people, trying to give a realistic portrayal of what the state of contemporary education is, ways that it is deficient, and ways to correct this. The ideas here are not simple, per se, but nor are they controversial: Postman asserts that we need to reestablish or even invent wholly anew the grand narratives that give meaning to education in this country. He suggests five that I find entirely agreeable, though I'm sure that there are some who would have problems with his ideas (namely that on diversity and multiculturalism). There is a lot here to ponder, particularly as the ideas presented *are* major shifts, but shifts that can only happen over time, when things are changed in small yet important ways to influence and affect the education and reasoning of children and even adults. The things that Postman offers up to think about are, I think, good things. Knowing how to move forward with these ideas is, I think wisely, left up to the reader.

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