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ERIC Number: ED407695
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Neil Postman's Amusement: The Enemy with a Smiling Face.
Longrie, Michael
The first reading assignment one educator gives his first-year composition students helps answer their questions about what college work will be like. For this reason, he gives them Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" to read, a book which shows that the late 20th century is undergoing a vast epistemological shift, moving from the "typographic mind" to the "age of show business." Postman concerns himself with the formal structures of human thinking and points to the invention of the telegraph and modern advertising methods in the 1890s as the germinal source in this epistemological shift. For him, technology "legitimized" the idea of context-free information, focusing on novelty, interest, and curiosity. Television's power lies in the seduction of an image; Postman's purpose is "to make the epistemology of television visible again." The book surveys and analyzes the effects of television on various forms of public discourse: news, religion, political discussion and campaigning, and education. Postman notes that television's contribution to educational philosophy is the idea that teaching and entertainment are inseparable--an idea he finds lethal to students' ability to develop critical thinking. The first assignment asked the students to write three sentences in their notebooks that they thought captured Postman's essential point in any given chapter, and also asked for questions. The students moved from halting guesses to clear and confident assessments--they read better. Examples of their comments illustrate their progression in critical thinking. (NKA)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A