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The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School Reprint Edition

48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679750314
ISBN-10: 0679750312
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Claiming that our current educational system teaches students to worship technology and consumerism, Postman argues for more humanistic "narratives" as the basis for schools.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

After 20 books (e.g., Technopoly, LJ 1/92), Postman, social critic par excellence, has returned to his original turf: education. Sharp, witty, and frequently quotable, he demolishes many leading popular themes as lacking in meaning. Education without spiritual content or, as he puts it, without a myth or narrative to sustain and motivate, is education without a purpose. That purpose used to be democracy and could still be, if only we were willing to look for the elements that unite rather than separate. Postman considers multiculturalism a separatist movement that destroys American unity. Diversity, however, is one of the themes he would employ in teaching language, history, and culture. Postman offers a number of positive and uplifting themes around which a new education philosophy could be formulated, some of which are far-fetched or extreme but nonetheless interesting. A most welcome addition to the education debate; highly recommended for all libraries.
-?Arla Lindgren, St. John's Univ., New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679750312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679750314
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Postman was chairman of the department of communication arts at New York University. He passed away in 2003.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Postman uses an ambiguous title that reflects the meaning of his book. The "end" may be construed as the purpose or reason for education or the end may represent his concern over the future of public education. For Postman, the survival of public education rests upon its purpose. He suggests that early purposes of education such as democracy, the melting-pot concepts, and Protestant work ethic have been lost. In addition, the "gods" of consumerism and technology have also failed. He suggests that the reader consider his five purposes for education as a means for its survival. These include his belief that education should exist so individuals become responsible for the planet earth. Another is that educators must enable their students to view knowledge in terms of a past and a future. Students must learn that mistakes are a source of learning rather than a fatality. Another is to extend the notion of the "American experiment." A love of country must be taught, and the foundation and arguments upon which this country were built should continue. Schools should teach and respect diversity; diversity should be a point of unification, not division. An understanding of language and its creation of a worldview is another purpose of education. While I found his purposes interesting, I question their being embraced and actually upheld by educators across the country. Nevertheless, Postman presents an interesting perspective!
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By PG on January 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I once taught at a university in which the Humanities building had no windows. It was as if we were expected to be inclosed within ourselves, divorced from nature and the world, studying life from pages and computers instead of directly. The walls were drab, the corridors monotonous, and this was the place I was to teach the highest expressions of human culture, and most importantly, what is it to be or "become" human.

Neil Postman's book is more than just refreshing. He makes a clear distinction between teaching as a kind of engineering feat--through books, transparencies, film, computers and whatever the latest delivery system is--and teaching as introducing the student to himself or herself and to the world. This book is about teaching diversity, in the real sense of the word. And this book is about the problem of education not being so much "how" we teach or "what" we teach, but that we lack a substantial goal. We lack a metaphysic.

If you do not understand what it means to lack a metaphysic, then this book is for you. It is one thing to lose something and know that we have lost it (a wallet, for example), but if we lose something (such as a sense for what a metaphysic is) and we don't even know it is lost, we will not even know enough to look for it.

If we have lost the sense of our lives being ordered toward some end, then indeed we are permanently lost. And we are just teaching randomly and learning randomly, as we try to become better producers and better consumers. Is that what we are? Neil Postman says no. We are much more.

I encourage every teacher who cares about teaching to read this book. I encourage every student who has wondered why we have to study so many unnecessary things, to read this book.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. on February 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Most of the current debate in education involves `means': teaching methodologies, national testing, privatization, etc. This book focuses on a different, less frequently discussed aspect of the crisis in education: what should we be teaching in the first place?
Inherent in all cultures and activities are purposes that drive actions. For schools, its most common objectives (such as technological competence, consumership, acquisition of practical skills, and multiculturalism) have failed to inspire spiritual and intellectual learning. Postman proposes five concepts (humanity's place in the universe, independent thinking, America's form of government, diversity, understanding technology's impact) to focus education around that in a number of ways grapple with the most significant issues the world faces today.
Given the significance of education, and the fact that everyone is both directly and indirectly affected by its results, readers will find this an important and insightful book. It is especially excellent for educators seeking meaningful content and context for their lessons. Like all of Postman's writing, it is a concise, witty, and interesting read.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By JackOfMostTrades on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have assigned this book to my freshman college students rather than the usual overpriced college anthologies that the publishing companies pawn off on teachers who march in lockstep to their curriculum, not necessarily because they are mean-spirited; rather they've become technocrats focused more on how to structure a paragraph than how to mold a life. My students, time after time, have come up to me, and have said, "I always knew there was something wrong with my education, but I never could put a finger on what it was. This book has finally put into words what I couldn't explain myself." It just might have the same effect on you. It is interesting that some of the subjects Postman believes are essential to any curriculum are those subjects which have been honored in traditional, autocthnonous cultures such as "spaceship earth" and ecology (Native Americans); the origins of meaning and values (All cultures); rhetoric (The Greeks, the Middle Ages)--expanded to include media literacy, not just the nature of written language. Some may call his ideas "utopian" or "impractical." However, I believe his point is that such topics would not be considered as such if we lived in a society that still had some common "ground of being," was not fanatically materialistic or increasingly jingoistic, and addressed the complexities of values and religion in a competent and thorough rather than in the current vacuous "soundbite" modality that permeates all public discourse including that of people who should know better. When Oprah has six Christian theologians on her show and ends it by saying, "In 30 seconds, I'd like each of you to provide your definition of faith," and then see them actually try to fulfill the task, it's pretty scary. Why didn't at least one of them say, "I cannot provide you with a definition of faith in 30 seconds"? Could it be "The End of Education"?
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