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The Big Answer


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The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School

a book by Neil Postman

(our site's book review)

Postman Argues for More Humanistic "Narratives" as the Basis for Schools

The Amazon blurb for the book reads: Postman suggests that the current crisis in our educational system derives from its failure to supply students with a translucent, unifying "narrative" like those that inspired earlier generations. Instead, today's schools promote the false "gods" of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment. What alternative strategies can we use to instill our children with a sense of global citizenship, healthy intellectual skepticism, respect of America's traditions, and appreciation of its diversity? In answering this question, The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School restores meaning and common sense to the arena in which they are most urgently needed.

"Informal and clear, Postman's ideas about education are appealingly fresh."—New York Times Book Review

"Claiming that our current educational system teaches students to worship technology and consumerism, Postman argues for more humanistic 'narratives' as the basis for schools"—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
Claiming that our current educational system teaches students to worship technology and consumerism, Postman argues for more humanistic 'narratives' as the basis for schools

"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."—Library Journal

Neil Postman is the author of other good books: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, The Disappearance of Childhood, and Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.


Postman Wants Us to Dump False "Narratives" as the Reasons for Schools

Education dies for want of a reason to live. Typically, however, pseudo-purposes, misguided aims, and confused reasoning prop up education like a dying patient on a walker long before any death knell can be heard
Education dies for want of a reason to live. Typically, however, pseudo-purposes, misguided aims, and confused reasoning prop up education like a dying patient on a walker long before any death knell can be heard

"Education dies for want of a reason to live. Typically, however, pseudo-purposes, misguided aims, and confused reasoning prop up education like a dying patient on a walker long before any death knell can be heard. . . . Postman’s list of faulty narratives includes economic utility, consumerism, technology, and multiculturism . . . [this misguided faulty narrative] asserts that schools should prioritize criticism of euro-centric or otherwise 'white' perspectives on history and culture while promoting the accomplishments and contributions of non-european and non-white culture" (Source: The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School by Neil Postman—A Review, David Ferrer, The Best Schools)


Postman Wants Us to Dump Multicultural Madness

Postman is concerned that the narrative of multiculturalism makes cultural diversity an exclusive preoccupation and thereby makes a narrative of unified national purpose nearly impossible to achieve. Postman sees in the multiculturalists an attempt to commandeer the schools for teaching a divisive "ethnic pride," which should be promoted in the family and the community, but not in the schools. As anyone who's had to sit through obscene political correctness fiascos in classrooms at elite liberal universities knows, a great deal of learning and unity is lost to the oneupmanship of students who attempt to curry favor by being the most political correct multiculturalist of all. Where once there was learning there now is striking a pose.

The fact that this multicultural madness is supported by the administration and safe spaces and microaggressions are the words de jour is a sad commentary on bleeding heart liberal instincts crossing the border into madness. How the administrations could have been bullied into submission this way speaks little about their moral superiority but volumes about their cowardice. The spectacle of blacks who feel victimized constantly so they are watching every word and expression of everyone in academia is made worse as nonblack sudents find themselves jumping through hoops to please this "victimized" class, severely interfering with learning. The problem here is that few of the blacks are victims of anything except racebaiters like Al Sharpton who keep this issue alive to enhance their own power.

Multiculturalism in universities—where once there was learning there now is striking a pose; this fellow just caught an evil white committing a 'microaggression'
Multiculturalism in universities—where once there was learning there now is striking a pose; this fellow just caught an evil white committing a 'microaggression'

The Black Lives Matter farce is a case in point. Of course black lives matter—that is not the point, nor was it up for discussion since it's obvious. 'Don't Make the Black Kids Angry': The hoax of black victimization and those who enable it gives us data that disproves the hoax of black victimization. We like and appreciate all races equally and would be the first to holler if racism against blacks was making a comeback. But it isn't. Quite the reverse. Obama's racism toward whites and Hillary's plan to keep the "whites are victimizers" baloney going so offended the whites who'd had a bellyfull of this nonsense that she handed the election to Trump.

Bleeding-heart liberals are always looking for a cause to latch onto so these do-gooders can see if they can do something good about it to make themselves feel good inside, which is all right by us, especially if they hit on worthwhille causes to champion. But in the case of these trumped up racism claims, the do-gooders became victims of a hoax which the cynical perpetrators exploited for their own nefarious purposes. There is a substantial amount of racism in most cultures, including the USA. But the proposition that it is mostly white-on-black racism is a fraud. In truth, for the last few years the amount of black-on-white racism has surged way ahead of white-on-black racism, racebaiter Al Sharpton's prevarications and spinning to the contrary.

Obama says: I am not a crook, but some of us know better
Obama says: I am not a crook, but some of us know better—How Obama Betrayed America....And No One Is Holding Him Accountable

Postman is, like us, fed up with the modern white victimizer black victim concept Obama pushed in his presidency and Hillary foolishly planned to continue. Clinton did not have an economic message that appealed to voters in the states that ended up deciding the election. Trump did—and he wasn't even a politician. Hillary's "Stronger Together" message brought up the liberal obsession of divisiveness and polarization by indicating its opposite. The message was unpopular and actually divisive in itself as the people were worried about an economy that was leaving many behind, and only Sharpton-brainwashed blacks were thinking racism-victimization thoughts, which Hillary—exposed to Obama's divisiveness for way too long—just couldn't understand.

Think of the Black Lives Matter farce. It suggests that whites hate blacks and are often victimizing them. A lot more white cops were being shot at black hands than blacks were being shot at white hands, so, logically, White Lives Matter or Cops Lives Matter is more accurate and appropriate. But the liberal media wasn't open to expressions of truth or factuality. Racism issues on TV sold more toothpaste and were supported by Sharpton's PACs and accomplices so that's what they went with, regardless of the divisiveness effect it was having and the way it tore a polarized country apart. Surely selling toothpaste is more important! So they kept blurting out spew-buckets of this divisive crap never realizing that they were generating Fake News. If only they'd had the journalistic integrity to investigate the facts and statistics. But no one wanted to look like a fool in the national media so the lies kept coming and the vile victimization hogwash became the conventional wisdom and to argue against it was to appear . . . racist!

Black Lives Matter suggests that whites hate blacks and are often victimizing them, neither of which is true
Black Lives Matter suggests that whites hate blacks and are often victimizing them, neither of which is true

Let's Get Rid of False Educational Ideas Like Teachers Filling Empty Heads with Knowledge

"While Postman is careful to caution against a healthy patriotism turning into xenophobia, he does not specify how this might be done. His rendition of U.S. history veers uncomfortably close to a myth of exceptionalism that could always be used, as in the past, to justify political and military intervention — an active form of ethnocentrism, to say the least. To pose just one contradiction: How, indeed, can our schools encourage a collaborative model of 'spaceship earth' while still touting the United States as its most worthy captain? . . . [He wants] students to investigate the connections across cultures [so they'll] overcome ethnocentrism, promote tolerance, and make all students feel a part of a more 'inclusive narrative.' Ultimately, for Postman, 'the purpose of public education is to help the young transcend individual identity by finding inspiration in a story of humanity.'" (Source: The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, Neil Postman, Harvard Educational Review)

How can our schools encourage a collaborative model of 'spaceship earth' while still touting the United States as its most worthy captain, in spite of its being the worst steward of its plants and animals?
How can our schools encourage a collaborative model of 'spaceship earth' while still touting the United States as its most worthy captain, in spite of its being the worst steward of its plants and animals?

"Students who are loved at home come to school to learn, and students who aren't come to school to be loved."—Nicholas Ferroni, activist, teacher

Both Educational expert John Holt and futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler want a reversal of the process of de-geniusing our young. (Buckminster Fuller invented the de-geniusing term—he says kids are born geniuses but parents and teachers unintentionally de-genius them.) This de-geniusing is ongoing in the Second Wave assembly lines found in anachronistic smokestack-era educational institutions based on discredited theories of learning like kids are empty containers to fill with memorized facts. See How Children Fail, America Skips School, Beyond Discipline, and Montessori: A Modern Approach.

Most teachers' view of education is that kids' brains are empty containers to fill
Most teachers' view of education is that kids' brains are empty containers to fill

Few would disagree with Postman that education is in need of reform. Our students do poorly compared to other countries. See How Do American Students Compare to Their International Peers?: The most recent math results from an international survey place the United States near the bottom. Many of our teachers are converted into babysitters and involuntary nurturers, since kids come to school unready to learn due to inadequate nurturing at home. See Teachers Say Unnurtured Kids Aren't Ready for School—We Say Unnurtured People Aren't Ready for Survival. U.S. schools are so bad at teaching math that we rank near the bottom internationally. What are they learning in their math classes is not math? Sadly, to text, to gossip, to smart off, to watch videos, to learn about new movies . . . ad nauseum.


When New Books with Prescriptions for Education Hit the Market, They Go Unread

What eventually occurs when new books with prescriptions for education hit the market? The books gather dust on library bookshelves, unread
What eventually occurs when new books with prescriptions for education hit the market? The books gather dust on library bookshelves, unread


Talk shows discuss the right and left viewpoints on the educational issues, effectively neutering the issues entirely and provoking absolutely no one into action
Talk shows discuss the right and left viewpoints on the educational issues, effectively neutering the issues entirely and provoking absolutely no one into action

What occurs when new books with prescriptions for education hit the market? The people who most need to read them don't. Talk shows discuss the right and left viewpoints on the issues, effectively neutering the issues entirely and provoking absolutely no one into action, except possibly the NEA, which for the 34,867th time explain that higher teacher salaries will fix everything—which has been tried and it failed miserably. The books gather dust on library bookshelves, unread. The educational malfunctioning persists unabated.


Education Would Improve Overnight If Teachers Got Rid of All Textbooks

Getting rid of books would improve education, says Postman; this isn't a new idea: they first burned the Alexandrian library in 48 B.C.
Getting rid of books would improve education, says Postman; this isn't a new idea: they first burned the Alexandrian library in 48 B.C.


Ancientlibraryalex
The Great Library of Alexandria

Kirkus Reviews says that "Education would improve overnight, contends Postman, if teachers were to get rid of all textbooks. Socially, schools must create ways to engage students in the care of their own school facilities and neighborhoods or towns." See Neighborhood Caretakers: Stories, Strategies and Tools for Healing Urban Community.

Exactly HOW can students learn to care for their own neighborhoods?
Exactly HOW can students learn to care for their own neighborhoods? See Caring for our neighborhoods the very best way of all and The Forest Through The Trees

Armies of Kids Bring Weapons to School—Our Culture is Sick

Postman says "Can it be true, as I read in The New York Times, that every day 53,000 children bring deadly weapons to school, and not only in New York, Chicago, and Detroit but in many venues thought to provide our young with a more settled and humane environment in which to grow? Can it be true, as some sociologists claim, that by the start of the twenty-first century, close to 6o percent of our children will be raised in single-parent homes? [The book was published in 1995.] Can it be true that sexual activity (and sexual diseases) among the young has increased by 300 percent in the last twenty years? . . . Everyone agrees and all sides point to the fact that American culture is not presently organized to promote the idea of childhood; and without that idea schooling loses much of its point."

The Big Answer and The Forest Through The Trees are 100% dedicated to promoting the idea of nurturing children optimally. Even though—as Postman says—American culture is not presently organized to promote childhood in any viable way, there is nothing stopping people and families from making their own subculture in a subcommunity optimized for viable life for everyone.


Thomas Jefferson Knew Schools Were to Help Protect Liberty

Thomas Jefferson, the Moses of the great democracy-god, knew what schools were for—to ensure that citizens would know when and how to protect their liberty
Thomas Jefferson, the Moses of the great democracy-god, knew what schools were for—to ensure that citizens would know when and how to protect their liberty

Postman says "Thomas Jefferson, the Moses of the great democracy-god, knew what schools were for—to ensure that citizens would know when and how to protect their liberty. This is a man who produced an essay that could have cost him his life, and that included the words: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' It would not have come easily to the mind of such a man, as it does to political leaders today, that the young should be taught to read exclusively for the purpose of increasing their economic productivity. Jefferson had a more profound god to serve."

Not only haven't we protected our democracy via schools, we haven't even protected our kids in our schools; (the 3rd bar is only a 4-year span, so the danger is increasing)
Not only haven't we protected our democracy via schools, we haven't even protected our kids in our schools; (the 3rd bar is only a 4-year span, so the danger is increasing)

And yet we haven't protected our democracy. Schools were to ensure that citizens would know when and how to protect their liberty. But we do not protect it, we did not protect it, and now our democracy and freedoms of the press are nothing but delusions and nice memories. Why didn't our schools teach the most essential wisdom of all? Why was our democracy neglected by thoughtless consumer-citizens so it was allowed to be corrupted into an oligarchy? See Democracy—an American Delusion and Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.

Or study how the Kochs have purposely eroded our democracy and our politics so his companies would make a bit more money: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, and Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy.

While we were consuming, who was minding the store? Who safeguarded our democracy, freedoms, rights, and governmental ethics, honor, integrity, virtuousness? (no one)
While we were consuming, who was minding the store? Who safeguarded our democracy, freedoms, rights, and governmental ethics, honor, integrity, virtuousness? (no one)

Postman Says Schools Should Socialize and Civilize, Not Teach Consumerism

The author says we need to impart values in schools that learning in isolation on computers will not teach, values of socialization and civilization and citizenship like share everything, play fair, don't hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, wash your hands before you eat, raising their hands when they wish to speak, not talking when others are talking, not chewing gum, not leaving until the bell rings, showing patience toward slower learners, and, of course, flush. On a computer, one can learn self-discipine, persistence, creativity, the arts of social networking and information searching/interpretation and emailing and video chatting and video creation and cybersecurity and scam avoidance, but the social arts need social situations.

Postman warns of the ugliness of the multiculturalists' agenda, reworking the pedagogy and educational content until it reflects the evilness of whites and goodness of nonwhites. There is so much hate and vitriol in this psychopathic reworking of the facts and contexts of education that Postman reveals his emotions of disgust clearly, and rightly so—and we concur. This book nails it (and things have only worsened in the 22 years since this book was written). The universities are turning into propaganda factories in which the white majority of students have nowhere to turn to preserve their integrity since they are evil oppressors and it seems ironic that THEY ARE PAYING MONEY to learn how rotten they and their ancestors are and were!

Islamics mostly see the U.S. as the Great Satan for invading the Middle East countries unprovoked and exploiting their oil and minerals and opium, but this was never a racism thing; it was/is neocon-led grasping for power, wealth, and empire
Islamics mostly see the U.S. as the Great Satan for invading the Middle East countries unprovoked and exploiting their oil and minerals and opium, but this was never a racism thing; it was/is neocon-led grasping for power, wealth, and empire


We'll not be surprised if Iraqis start seeing billboards with 'Miss me yet?' under Saddam's picture!
We'll not be surprised if Iraqis start seeing billboards with 'Miss me yet?' under Saddam's picture! Saddam gave Iraqis a better life than our meddling ever did.

Interestingly, there have been great quantities of misdeeds that the whites in the U.S. have done in the 20th and 21st centuries, but few comparable to the vicious horrors blacks visited upon their own people in such places as Rwanda, Uganda, etc., and that Islamics visited upon their own people and nearby countries in the Middle East (showing that the theory of nonwhite=good and white=bad is foolish racism). However, the nonwhites eventually joined the whites in their misdeeds, with politicians and the military labeling imperialism as democratization, which as you probably know is a lie and a cover for their greedy, oppressive ugliness.

The U.S. was among the countries that exploited African resources, but Africans exploited each other's tribes and countries as well, the lesson being that one needs to learn to protect what one has or sell it at a fair price
The U.S. was among the countries that exploited African resources, but Africans exploited each other's tribes and countries as well, the lesson being that one needs to learn to protect what one has or sell it at a fair price


Here we have the U.S. dropping a little democracy on some country in the Middle East
Here we have the U.S. dropping a little democracy on some country in the Middle East

The hegemony the whites wanted over nonwhites before the nonwhites gained equal rights in the 60s and 70s was a nasty and embarrassing racist carryover from the days of slavery and injustice where European and then American whites honestly felt superior to blacks so the British Empire felt justified in taking these primitives as slaves. But since it is 2017 and educated whites no longer feel superior to nonwhites because the know better, and since all that is now water over the dam or under the bridge, it is instructive to look at how our nation's military and CIA have been running roughshod over various people in various countries for a century, but it was about imperialistic empire building, and white and nonwhite races of American's citizenry participated, although the nonwhites weren't allowed to take part until they gained equal rights in the 60s and 70s. There is little difference between how blacks in our military oppressed various races in other countries and how various blacks in Africa oppressed other blacks in and out of their own nations.

The U.S. was among the countries that exploited Central and South American resources but they wisely kicked us out by the 21st century
The U.S. was among the countries that exploited Central and South American resources but they wisely kicked us out by the 21st century

Idea: Multiculturalism Got Fabricated by Shadow Government Neocons to Take Heat Off Themselves

The shadow government and the American neocons cared about power and wealth and control and hegemony, and as many nonwhites as whites partook of the nefarious actions. The multiculturalists have their knickers in a twist over the wrong injustices! There may have been racist motives before the 70s—over half a century ago, but these days there are simply the power and wealth and control and hegemony and empire building motives, and these warmongering neocons aren't being racist at all. These warmongering imperialistic neocons are being greedy. See the very most important book of the 21st century: Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, written by the most respected intellectual of the 21st century: Noam Chomsky.

It's just an idea (which maybe Postman would do well to consider), but we cannot help but conjecture that perhaps the entire multiculturalist agenda was somehow fabricated by shadow government neocons to take heat off themselves and put it onto "racist whites." The neocons were never perpetrating their nefarious misdeeds as a manifestation of racism, but of greed and imperialism from neocon oligarchs. The same greed the British Empire had displayed for centuries was duplicated by American Empire builders, and however much the hatreds of racism had been in the hearts of some of these oppressors from either empire, it was a side issue, never a motivator. It took a back seat to greed, power, control, and wealth.

If the silencing of embarrassing truths seems like democracy to you, you've been smoking too much wacky tobacky
If the silencing of embarrassing truths seems like democracy to you, you've been smoking too much wacky tobacky

How else to explain the sudden (in historical terms) appearance on the scene of multiculturalism-spouting professors, books, articles, etc.? Instead of our young learning about the truth of the greed and imperialism coming from neocon oligarchs who are currently killing democracy and grabbing more and more control of the U.S., the young in the liberal universities are getting brainwashed with white=bad nonwhite=good baloney. The more we ponder all this, the more sense it makes. Especially when we factor in that Google itself has transmogrified from a search engine to a propaganda engine in just the last few months, with their de-indexing of most of the pages of websites with a progressive viewpoint such as AlterNet.org and others (which often tell the truth about greed and imperialism from neocon oligarchs). If the silencing of embarrassing truths seems like democracy to you, you've been smoking too much wacky tobaccy. It is facism, pure and simple. See Alternative media (U.S. political left)

The young in the liberal universities are getting brainwashed with white=bad nonwhite=good baloney—so they'll come out of school spouting baloney they PAID to have stuffed down their throats; this is nuts
The young in the liberal universities are getting brainwashed with white=bad nonwhite=good baloney—so they'll come out of school spouting baloney they PAID to have stuffed down their throats; this is nuts

Postman's Book Contains a Handful of New Narratives to Consider

The multiculturalists are correct that we need a new U.S. narrative. But it is not one that demonizes whites and puts blacks and other minorities on pedestals to be seen as the definitive good. Obama and Hillary were wrong. Postman's book contains a handful of new narratives to consider, however, some positively correct (e.g., environmentalism).

Air pollution kills many living things—who is next on the kill list? Us?
Air pollution kills many living things—who is next on the kill list? Us?


The environmentalism god has already been declared—by Trump and his minions—to be fake news, dead on arrival, and impractical because business concerns trump environmental concerns
The environmentalism god has already been declared—by Trump and his minions—to be fake news, dead on arrival, and impractical because business concerns trump environmental concerns

This author did his best to—in his words—"locate, explain, and elaborate narratives that may give nontrivial purposes to schooling, and that would contribute a spiritual and serious intellectual dimension to learning." But he also acknowledges that he's not terribly confident that any of them will work. The hollow narratives of economic utility, consumerism, or ethnic separatism and resentment have taken root deeply and economic utility and consumerism will seem to walk the walk, and be practical, while his better more humanisic gods will seem to be busy merely talking the talk. The environmentalism god has already been declared—by Trump and his minions—to be fake news, dead on arrival, and impractical because business concerns trump environmental concerns. Not a good start for adopting of humanistic, wise narratives. But Trump's foolishness aside, we know of a book that suggests a transcendent narrative Postman never thought of: The Forest Through The Trees.

The Forest Through The Trees suggests a transcendent narrative Postman never thought of
The Forest Through The Trees suggests a transcendent narrative Postman never thought of