Abbi Dion's Reviews > The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

The End of Education by Neil Postman
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Jan 25, 2012

Read from January 16 to 25, 2012

"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!
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