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In this brilliantly challenging response to the education crisis, Neil Postman returns to the subject that established his reputation as one of our most insightful social critics. Starting from his belief that schooling is now too often a trivial pursuit, a mechanical exercise, he argues with stunning clarity that we have lost sight of the inherent value and substance of learning, and sets out to restore it for our time. Postman begins by portraying the American education of an earlier part of this century, when we knew what schools were for - to create a coherent, stable, unified culture out of a people of diverse traditions, languages, and religions. Shifting his focus to contemporary education, Postman outlines the markedly different narratives, or "gods, " that underlie our present conception of school, and shows how poorly they serve us. The new gods are economic utility (education only as a means to a good-paying job), consumership (the belief that you are what you accumulate), technology (a reliance on mechanical solutions, not critical judgment), and separatism ("multicultural" instincts that split groups off from a unifying cultural pluralism). In describing how education may reasonably and creatively respond to - or redefine - these problems of modernity, the author presents useful narratives to help schools recover a sense of purpose, tolerance, and respect for learning. These include the Spaceship Earth (preserving the earth as a unifying theme), the Fallen Angel (learning driven not by absolute answers but by an understanding that our knowledge is imperfect), the American Experiment (emphasizing the successes and the failures of our evolving nation), the Law of Diversity(exposure to all cultures in their strengths and their weaknesses), and Word Weavers (the fundamental importance of language in forging our common humanity). Postman's The End of Education heralds a new beginning. It seeks to provide solutions while provoking debate. Postman offers
Neil Postman was University Professor, Paulette Goddard Chair of Media Ecology, and Chair of the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University. Among his twenty books are studies of childhood (The Disappearance of Childhood), public discourse (Amusing Ourselves to Death), education (Teaching as a Subversive Activity and The End of Education), and the impact of technology (Technopoly). His interest in education was long-standing, beginning with his experience as an elementary and secondary school teacher. He died in 2003.