ResponseEssay to an Article
ResponseEssay to an Article
Neilpostman’s assertions in theend of education embodyreform proposals that are part of the on-going discourse about thepurpose and content of the school system in the United States. Insummary Postman proposes five purposes that should guide the schoolsystem through the five narratives.The assertions seek to redefinethe role of schools in education and the intellectual growth ofchildren. Postman’s overall redefinition of the school system isthat they should pass on the five narratives to children so that theyprovide them with the capacity and the reasons “to continueeducating themselves”(Postman, 2011). Postman uses the word ‘gods’to connote the five narratives, which are the core of the proposalshe believes can transform the ailing education system. Fundamentally,the word “gods’ also connotes the fact that the narrativesPostman talks about describe the origins of the problems thatcurrently affect the education sector while also pointing out some ofthe solutions that can change its future.Postman considers thefollowing “gods” or concepts as fundamental tenets that definededucation in the past: human beings as the custodians of the earth,the fallen angel, teaching archeology, anthropology, and astronomy.These five elements are lacking in the current education systemleading to failure in achieving the long term educational goals thesociety needs.
Postmanconnotes the narratives as “gods” as a way to express how muchinfluence they had on the past generations. Post contends that thetwentieth did not give children the reason to continue educationthemselves due to the failed school system. In his words, he statesthat, “The twentieth century has not been a good century for thegods.” The gods in this case are the values that the school systeminstilled in children. These values included the following but notlimited to family values, honor, humility, social responsibility,empathy for the outcast, and restraint. While instilling these set offundamental values, schools, through the “gods” guided, inspired,and also gave children a sense of purpose to continue reading widelyeven after they are out of the formal school set up. Children werealso exposed to different narratives about democracy, Jesus Christ,the “Protestant-ethic story”, and the “thegreat-melting-story”. Thus, Postman asserts that children missedthe input and influence of the “gods” on their education and thevalues that they imparted in the generations that came before them.Instead, educators have become increasingly inclined towardsdeveloping better teaching techniques and overlooked the need forimparting metaphysical knowledge and values learners.
WhilePostman has admiration for the old “gods” that imparted thevalues mentioned above, there are other “new gods” that heconsiders the reason for the failed education system. Postmandescribes these “new gods” as the “gods that fail”. Theyinclude the culture of western consumerism that has a huge influenceon the education sector, the emphasis for multiculturalism ineducation, modern technology, and economic utility. Postman wrote thefollowing about how economic utility as one of the ‘gods that fail”has distorted education,
“Ifyou will pay attention in school and do your homework, and sore wellon tests, and behave yourself, you will be rewarded with awell-paying job when you are done” (p.27).
Onthe effect of the culture of consumerism on education, Postman usesthe following statement to express note the destruction it has had oneducation
“Whoeverfinishes with the most toys wins” (p.33)
Postmanviews technology as a source of deliberate deception that has led thesociety into believing that all children can access informationequally through technological capabilities. Postman disagrees withthe notion that technology can equalize the access of information forpoor children with children from well-to-do backgrounds. Finally,multiculturalism, which is the last of Postman’s “new gods”,receives critical dissent from him. He introduces “culturalpluralism” as the term that should replace multiculturalism.Postman deplores multiculturalism as a concept that is out toentrench the rhetoric of white superiority. Education, according toPostman, should emphasize the idea of cultural pluralism because itcelebrates the achievements of other racial communities in the worldas part of human history. Hence, Postman writes,
“Culturalpluralism celebrates the struggles and achievements of nonwhitepeople as part of the story of humankind (p.53.)”. Conversely, theidea of multiculturalism only serves to entrench the story of how“the goodness inheres in nonwhites, especially those who have beenvictims of white hegemony”. (p.52)
Personalexperience of the current education system
Theeducation system has truly failed to impart values in students. Thebest proof of Postman’s views is the increasing number studentsthat know little about American history, lack the guiding values thatgraduates should have, and are quick to give judgments of situationswithout first having an insight about them.When one goes for jobinterviews, they usually think that they have what it takes to takeup the job because they have good grades. However, the contraryhappens when they learn that employers are usually interested in amultiplicity of qualities other than just good grades. For thatreason, it is not surprising to see more and more graduates beingturned away from potential jobs due to lacking the essential skillsthat employers presume should be imparted in school.
Postman,N. (2011). Theend of education: Redefining the value of school.Vintage.