Frases de Neil Postman

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Neil Postman

Data de nascimento: 8. Março 1931
Data de falecimento: 5. Outubro 2003

Neil Postman foi um dos mais importantes teóricos da comunicação dos Estados Unidos.

Citações Neil Postman

„In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom's message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called "convergent questions," but what might more simply be called "Guess what I am thinking " questions.

„When media make war against each other, it is a case of world-views in collision.“

—  Neil Postman
Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992), Context: We can imagine that Thamus [or Amun: this is a reference to a discussion on the value of writing in Plato's Phaedrus] would also have pointed out to Gutenberg, as he did to Theuth, that the new invention would create a vast population of readers who "will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction... with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom"; that reading, in other words, will compete with older forms of learning. This is yet another principle of technological change we may infer from the judgment of Thamus: new technologies compete with old ones — for time, for attention, for money, for prestige, but mostly for dominance of their world-view. This competition is implicit once we acknowledge that the medium contains an ideological bias. And it is a fierce competition, as only ideological competitions can be. It is not merely a matter of tool against tool — the alphabet attacking ideographic writing, the printing press attacking the illuminated manuscript, the photograph attacking the art of painting, television attacking the printed word. When media make war against each other, it is a case of world-views in collision.

„Imagine what might be accomplished if this talent and energy were turned to philosophy, to theology, to the arts, to imaginative literature or to education?“

—  Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985), Context: In a world populated by people who believe that through more and more information, paradise is attainable, the computer scientist is king. But I maintain that all of this is a monumental and dangerous waste of human talent and energy. Imagine what might be accomplished if this talent and energy were turned to philosophy, to theology, to the arts, to imaginative literature or to education? Who knows what we could learn from such people — perhaps why there are wars, and hunger, and homelessness and mental illness and anger.

„In schools, adminstrators commonly become myopic as a result of confronting all of the problems the "requirements" generate. Thus they cannot see (or hear) the constituents the system ostensibly exists to serve — the students.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: Adminstrators are another curious consequence of a bureaucracy which has forgotten its reason for being. In schools, adminstrators commonly become myopic as a result of confronting all of the problems the "requirements" generate. Thus they cannot see (or hear) the constituents the system ostensibly exists to serve — the students. The idea that the school should consist of procedures specifically intended to help learners learn strikes many administrators as absurd — and "impractical." …Eichmann, after all, was "just an adminstrator." He was merely "enforcing requirements." The idea of "full time administrators" is palpably a bad one — especially in schools — and we say to hell with it. Most of the "administration" of the school should be a student responsibility. If schools functioned according to the democratic ideals they pay verbal allegience to, the students would long since have played a major role in developing policies and procedures guiding its operation. One of the insidious facts about totalitarianism is its seeming "efficiency." …Democracy — with all of its inefficiency — is still the best system we have so far for enhancing the prospects of our mutual survival. The schools should begin to act as if this were so.

„Technological competition ignites total war, which means it is not possible to contain the effects of a new technology to a limited sphere of human activity…“

—  Neil Postman
Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992), Context: Technological competition ignites total war, which means it is not possible to contain the effects of a new technology to a limited sphere of human activity... What we need to consider about the computer has nothing to do with its efficiency as a teaching tool. We need to know in what ways it is altering our conception of learning, and how, in conjunction with television, it undermines the old idea of school.

„The "requirements," indeed, force the teacher — and administrator — into the role of an authoritarian functionary whose primary task becomes that of enforcing the requirements rather than helping the learner to learn.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: Conventional "requirements" …are systems of prescriptions and proscriptions intended solely to limit the physical and intellectual movements of students — to "keep them in line, in sequence, in order," etc. They shift focus of attention from the learner (check [Goodwin] Watson again) to the "course." In the process, "requirements" violate virtually everything we know about learning because they comprise the matrix of an elaborate system of punishment, that in turn, comprise a threatening atmosphere in which positive learning cannot occur. The "requirements," indeed, force the teacher — and administrator — into the role of an authoritarian functionary whose primary task becomes that of enforcing the requirements rather than helping the learner to learn. The whole authority of the system is contingent upon the "requirements."

„The new education is a process and will not suffer from the applied imaginations of all who wish to be a part of it.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: These questions are not intended to represent a catechism for the new education. These are samples and illustrations of the kind of questions we think worth answering. Our set of questions is best regarded as a metaphor of our sense of relevance. If you took the trouble to list your own questions, it is quite possible that you prefer many or them to ours. Good enough. The new education is a process and will not suffer from the applied imaginations of all who wish to be a part of it. But in evaluating your own questions, as well as ours, bear in mind that there are certain standards that must be used. These standards must also be stated in the form of questions: [1] Will your questions increase the learner's will as well as capacity to learn? Will they help to give him a sense of joy in learning? Will they help to provide the learner with confidence in his ability to learn? [2] In order to get answers, will the learner be required to make inquiries? (Ask further questions, clarify terms, make observations, classify data, etc?) [3] Does each question allow for alternative answers (which implies alternative modes of inquiry)? [4] Will the process of answering the questions tend to stress the uniqueness of the learner? [6] Would the answers help the learner to sense and understand the universals in the human condition and so enhance his ability to draw closer to other people?

„Survival in a stable environment depends almost entirely on remembering the strategies for survival that have been developed in the past, and so the conservation and transmission of these becomes the primary mission of education. But, a paradoxical situation develops when change becomes the primary characteristic of the environment. Then the task turns inside out — survival in a rapidly changing environment depends almost entirely upon being able to identify which of the old concepts are relevant to the demands imposed by the new threats to survival, and which are not.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: The BASIC FUNCTION of all education, even in the most traditional sense, is to increase the survival prospects of the group. If this function is fulfilled, the group survives. If not, it doesn't. There have been times when this function was not fulfilled, and groups (some of them we even call "civilizations") disappeared. Generally, this resulted from changes in the kind of threats the group faced. The threats changed, but the education did not, and so the group, in a way, "disappeared itself" (to use a phrase from Catch-22). The tendency seems to be for most "educational" systems, from patterns of training in "primitive" tribal societies to school systems in technological societies, to fall imperceptibly into a role devoted exclusively to the conservation of old ideas, concepts, attitudes, skills, and perceptions. This happens largely because of the unconsciously held belief that these old ways of thinking and doing are necessary to the survival of the group. …Survival in a stable environment depends almost entirely on remembering the strategies for survival that have been developed in the past, and so the conservation and transmission of these becomes the primary mission of education. But, a paradoxical situation develops when change becomes the primary characteristic of the environment. Then the task turns inside out — survival in a rapidly changing environment depends almost entirely upon being able to identify which of the old concepts are relevant to the demands imposed by the new threats to survival, and which are not. Then a new educational task becomes critical: getting the group to unlearn (to "forget") the irrelevant concepts as a prior condition of learning. What we are saying is that the "selective forgetting" is necessary for survival.

„A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.“

—  Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985), Context: A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided. The invention of the printing press is an excellent example. Printing fostered the modern idea of individuality but it destroyed the medieval sense of community and social integration. Printing created prose but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression. Printing made modern science possible but transformed religious sensibility into an exercise in superstition. Printing assisted in the growth of the nation-state but, in so doing, made patriotism into a sordid if not a murderous emotion. Another way of saying this is that a new technology tends to favor some groups of people and harms other groups. School teachers, for example, will, in the long run, probably be made obsolete by television, as blacksmiths were made obsolete by the automobile, as balladeers were made obsolete by the printing press. Technological change, in other words, always results in winners and losers.

„In the Middle Ages, there was a scarcity of information but its very scarcity made it both important and usable.“

—  Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985), Context: In the Middle Ages, there was a scarcity of information but its very scarcity made it both important and usable. This began to change, as everyone knows, in the late 15th century when a goldsmith named Gutenberg, from Mainz, converted an old wine press into a printing machine, and in so doing, created what we now call an information explosion.... Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.

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„Conventional "requirements" …are systems of prescriptions and proscriptions intended solely to limit the physical and intellectual movements of students — to "keep them in line, in sequence, in order," etc.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: Conventional "requirements" …are systems of prescriptions and proscriptions intended solely to limit the physical and intellectual movements of students — to "keep them in line, in sequence, in order," etc. They shift focus of attention from the learner (check [Goodwin] Watson again) to the "course." In the process, "requirements" violate virtually everything we know about learning because they comprise the matrix of an elaborate system of punishment, that in turn, comprise a threatening atmosphere in which positive learning cannot occur. The "requirements," indeed, force the teacher — and administrator — into the role of an authoritarian functionary whose primary task becomes that of enforcing the requirements rather than helping the learner to learn. The whole authority of the system is contingent upon the "requirements."

„Words vary in the degree to which they correspond to verifiable referents.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: A third kind of semantic awareness is an extension of the consciousness of abstracting, namely an awareness of varying levels of abstraction. Words vary in the degree to which they correspond to verifiable referents. Some words are relatively more abstract or general, and some words are relatively more concrete or specific. Related to this fact is a fourth kind of semantic awareness, which might be called the "direction of meaning." That is, with increasingly abstract or general words, (i. e., those farther removed from operationally verifiable referents), the direction of meaning shifts accordingly from "outside" to "inside." With increasingly concrete or specific words (i. e., those whose referents can be more easily verified operationally), the direction of meaning shifts accordingly from "inside" to "outside." The conventional semantic terminology for these directions of meaning are intensional (internal or inside) and extensional (external or outside). Closely bound to these directions of meaning are, of course, different kinds of meaning. The primary semantic distinction made in kinds of meaning is between connotation (intensional, subjective, personal meaning) and denotation (extensional, objective, social meaning).

„Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.“

—  Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985), Context: In the Middle Ages, there was a scarcity of information but its very scarcity made it both important and usable. This began to change, as everyone knows, in the late 15th century when a goldsmith named Gutenberg, from Mainz, converted an old wine press into a printing machine, and in so doing, created what we now call an information explosion.... Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.

„About the last place any of us can expect to learn anything important about the realities we have to cope with in our wistful pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is a classroom.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: About the last place any of us can expect to learn anything important about the realities we have to cope with in our wistful pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is a classroom. If we decided that schools must do whatever is necessary to help students to learn the concepts and skills relevant to the nuclear space age, we wouldn't spend much time sitting inside of small boxes inside of boxes — even with all the fancy hardware being developed to jazz up the Trivia contest. It's probably true that most of what we all know we didn't learn in school anyway. Moreover, developments in electronic information processing make the school as it presently exists unnecessary... the "new education." Its purpose is to produce people who can cope effectively with change. To date, none of the new "educational technology" has that as its purpose. Remember Santayana's line: Fanaticism consists of redoubling efforts after having forgotten one's aim. The developments in "educational technology" are intended to do all of the old school stuff better... but that's not the aim of the new education.

„Whether it be "molecule," "fact," "law," "art," "wealth," "gene," or whatever, it is essential that students understand that definitions are hypotheses, and that embedded in them is a particular philosophical, sociological, or epistemological point of view.“

—  Neil Postman
Language Education in a Knowledge Context (1980), Context: Definitions, like questions and metaphors, are instruments for thinking. Their authority rests entirely on their usefulness, not their correctness. We use definitions in order to delineate problems we wish to investigate, or to further interests we wish to promote. In other words, we invent definitions and discard them as suits our purposes. And yet, one gets the impression that... God has provided us with definitions from which we depart at the risk of losing our immortal souls. This is the belief that I have elsewhere called "definition tyranny," which may be defined... as the process of accepting without criticism someone else's definition of a word or a problem or a situation. I can think of no better method of freeing students from this obstruction of the mind than to provide them with alternative definitions of every concept and term with which they must deal in a subject. Whether it be "molecule," "fact," "law," "art," "wealth," "gene," or whatever, it is essential that students understand that definitions are hypotheses, and that embedded in them is a particular philosophical, sociological, or epistemological point of view.

„The way to be liberated from the constraining effects of any medium is to develop a perspective on it — how it works and what it does.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: The way to be liberated from the constraining effects of any medium is to develop a perspective on it — how it works and what it does. Being illiterate in the processes of any medium (language) leaves one at the mercy of those who control it. The new media — these new languages — then are among the most important "subjects" to be studied in the interests of survival. But they must be studied in a new way if they are to be understood, they must be studied as mediators of perception. Indeed, for any "subject" or "discipline" to be understood it must be studied this way.

„One of the insidious facts about totalitarianism is its seeming "efficiency." …Democracy — with all of its inefficiency — is still the best system we have so far for enhancing the prospects of our mutual survival. The schools should begin to act as if this were so.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: Adminstrators are another curious consequence of a bureaucracy which has forgotten its reason for being. In schools, adminstrators commonly become myopic as a result of confronting all of the problems the "requirements" generate. Thus they cannot see (or hear) the constituents the system ostensibly exists to serve — the students. The idea that the school should consist of procedures specifically intended to help learners learn strikes many administrators as absurd — and "impractical." …Eichmann, after all, was "just an adminstrator." He was merely "enforcing requirements." The idea of "full time administrators" is palpably a bad one — especially in schools — and we say to hell with it. Most of the "administration" of the school should be a student responsibility. If schools functioned according to the democratic ideals they pay verbal allegience to, the students would long since have played a major role in developing policies and procedures guiding its operation. One of the insidious facts about totalitarianism is its seeming "efficiency." …Democracy — with all of its inefficiency — is still the best system we have so far for enhancing the prospects of our mutual survival. The schools should begin to act as if this were so.

„The word "educate" is closely related to the word "educe." In the oldest pedagogic sense of the term, this meant a drawing out of a person something potential or latent.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: We have framed... some questions which in our judgement, are responsive to the actual and immediate as against the fancied and future needs of learners in the world as it is (not as it was). … There seemed to be little doubt that, from the point of view of the students, these questions made much more sense than the ones they usually have to memorize the right answers to in school. Contrary to conventional school practice, what that means is that we want to elicit from the students the meanings that they have already stored up so that they may subject these meanings to a testing and verifying, reordering and reclassifying, modifying and extending process. In this process the student is not a passive "recipient"; he becomes an active producer of knowledge. The word "educate" is closely related to the word "educe." In the oldest pedagogic sense of the term, this meant a drawing out of a person something potential or latent. We can after all, learn only in relation to what we already know. Again, contrary to common misconceptions, this means that, if we don't know very much, our capability for learning is not very great. This idea — virtually by itself — requires a major revision in most of the metaphors that shape school policies and procedures.

„Our set of questions is best regarded as a metaphor of our sense of relevance.“

—  Neil Postman
Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969), Context: These questions are not intended to represent a catechism for the new education. These are samples and illustrations of the kind of questions we think worth answering. Our set of questions is best regarded as a metaphor of our sense of relevance. If you took the trouble to list your own questions, it is quite possible that you prefer many or them to ours. Good enough. The new education is a process and will not suffer from the applied imaginations of all who wish to be a part of it. But in evaluating your own questions, as well as ours, bear in mind that there are certain standards that must be used. These standards must also be stated in the form of questions: [1] Will your questions increase the learner's will as well as capacity to learn? Will they help to give him a sense of joy in learning? Will they help to provide the learner with confidence in his ability to learn? [2] In order to get answers, will the learner be required to make inquiries? (Ask further questions, clarify terms, make observations, classify data, etc?) [3] Does each question allow for alternative answers (which implies alternative modes of inquiry)? [4] Will the process of answering the questions tend to stress the uniqueness of the learner? [6] Would the answers help the learner to sense and understand the universals in the human condition and so enhance his ability to draw closer to other people?

„Technopoly is a state of culture… state of mind… the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology… its satisfactions… its orders…“

—  Neil Postman
Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992), This requires the development of a new kind of social order, and of necessity leads to the rapid dissolution of much that is associated with traditional beliefs. Those who feel most comfortable in Technopoly are those who are convinced that technical progress is humanity's superhuman achievement and the instrument by which our most profound dilemmas may be solved. They also believe that information is an unmixed blessing, which through its continued and uncontrolled production and dissemination offers increased freedom, creativity, and peace of mind. The fact that information does none of these things — but quite the opposite — seems to change few opinions, for unwavering beliefs are an inevitable product of the structure of Technopoly. In particular, Technopoly flourishes when the defenses against information break down.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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