(2004-03-30) Postman End Of Education

Review of Neil Postman's End Of Education (meaning the Goal Of Educating Kids, not the elimination-of) (Educating Kids). For education to be Meaningful, Postman contends, young people, their parents, and their teachers must have a common Narrative. Narratives are essential because they provide a sense of personal identity, a sense of community life, a basis for moral conduct, and explanations of that which cannot be known. The idea of public education requires not only shared narratives, but also the absence of narratives that lead to Alienation and divisiveness. "What makes Public School-s public," writes Postman, "is not so much that the schools have common goals (Shared Goal) but that the students have common gods."... He goes on to describe five narratives that may serve us better:

  • "Spaceship Earth" (the notion of humans as stewards of the planet);
  • "The Fallen Angel" (a view of history and the advancement of knowledge as a series of errors and corrections - Iterative);
  • "The American Experiment" (the story of America as a great Experiment and as a center of continuous argument - Dialogue);
  • "The Laws Of Diversity" (Diversity) (the view that difference contributes to increased vitality and excellence, and, ultimately, to a sense of unity); and
  • "The WordWeavers/The WorldMakers" (the understanding that the world is created through language - through definitions, questions, and Metaphor-s (Story Telling))...

Postman also offers a number of admittedly radical innovations toward making schools more effective. He argues that Text-Book-s should be altogether eliminated because they have a deadening effect on students and promote a view of education as the acquisition of immutable facts. He proposes that teachers offer incentives to students who find errors in their teachers' lessons. And he feels that the subjects of archeology, geology and astronomy be given the highest priority since they imbue students with a sense of awe and global interdependence.

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