Frases de Neil Postman

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Neil Postman

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

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

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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
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.

„The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information. ...control mechanisms are strained...“

—  Neil Postman
Context: The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information.... control mechanisms are strained... When additional control mechanisms are themselves technical, they in turn further increase the supply of information. When the supply of information is no longer controllable, a general breakdown in psychic tranquillity and social purpose occurs. Without defenses, people have no way of finding meaning in their experiences, lose their capacity to remember, and have difficulty imagining reasonable futures.

Publicidade

„Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: It may come as a surprise to our technocrat philosophers, but people do not read, write, speak, or listen primarily for the purpose of achieving a test score. They use language in order to conduct their lives, and to control their lives, and to understand their lives. An improvement in one's language abilities is therefore... observed in changes in one's purposes, perceptions, and evaluations. Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art. "Art," he said in Quintessence of Ibsenismn, "should refine our sense of character and conduct, of justice and sympathy, greatly heightening our self knowledge, self-control, precision of action and considerateness, and making us intolerant of baseness, cruelty, injustice, and intellectual superficialty and vulgarity." …For my purposes, if you replace the word "art" with the phrase "language education," you will have a precise statement of what I have been trying to say.

„What causes us the most misery and pain... has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: What causes us the most misery and pain... has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers. The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot provide an organizing moral framework. It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking. It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most. The computer is... a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we most need to confront — spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable conceptions of the past and future.

„Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.... until the seventeenth century, all cultures were tool-users.... the main characteristic of all tool-using cultures is that their tools were largely invented to do two things: to solve specific and urgent problems of physical life, such as in the use of waterpower, windmills, and the heavy-wheeled plow; or to serve the symbolic world of art, politics, myth, ritual, and religion, as in the construction of castles and cathedrals and the development of the mechanical clock. In either case, tools (... were not intended to attack) the dignity and integrity of the culture into which they were introduced. With some exceptions, tools did not prevent people from believing in their traditions, in their God, in their politics, in their methods of education, or in the legitimacy of their social organization...

„In schools, print shifted the emphasis from oral to written and visual communication.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: In schools, print shifted the emphasis from oral to written and visual communication. Teachers who had been only partly concerned within instructing their students in how to read became by the mid-sixteenth century concerned with almost nothing else. Since the sixteenth century, the textbook has been a primary source of income for book publishers. Since the sixteenth century, written examinations and written assignments have been an integral part of the methodology of school teaching; and since the sixteenth century, the image of the isolated student who reads and studies by himself, has been the essence of our conception of scholarship. In short, for 400 years Western civilization has lived in what has been characterized as the "Age of Gutenberg." Print has been the chief means of our information flow. Print has shaped our literature and conditioned our responses to literary experience. Print has influenced our conception of the educational process. But... print no longer "monopolizes man's symbolic environment," to use David Riesman's phrase. That monopoly began to dissolve toward the middle of the nineteenth century, when a more or less continuous stream of media inventions began to make accessible unprecedented quantities of information and created new modes of perception and qualities of aesthetic experience....1839... Daguerre developed the first practical method of photography. In 1844, Morse perfected the telegraph. In 1876, Bell transmitted the first telephone message. A year later, Edison invented the phonograph. By 1894, the movies had also been introduced. A year after that, Marconi sent and received the first wireless message. In 1906, Fessenden transmitted the human voice by radio. In 1920, regularly scheduled radio broadcasts began. In 1923, a picture was televised between New York and Philadelphia. In that same year, Henry Luce and Briton Hadden created a totally new idea in magazines with Time. In 1927, the first "talkie" appeared; and in 1923, Disney's first animated cartoon. In 1935, Major E. H. Armstrong developed the FM radio. In 1936 came Life magazine. In 1941, full commercial television was authorized. These are just some of the inventions that form a part of the "communications revolution" through which we are all living. To these, of course could be added the LP record, the tape recorder, the comic strip, the comic book, the paperback book.... the point here is... that the perceptual-cognitive effects on us of the form of these new languages be understood.

„We no longer have a coherent conception of ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one another and our world.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: We no longer have a coherent conception of ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one another and our world. We no longer know, as the Middle Ages did, where we come from, and where we are going, or why. That is, we don't know what information is relevant, and what information is irrelevant to our lives.

„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
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.

Publicidade

„In plain, what passes for a curriculum in today's schools is little else than a strategy of distraction... It is largely defined to keep students from knowing themselves and their environment in any realistic sense“

—  Neil Postman
Context: In plain, what passes for a curriculum in today's schools is little else than a strategy of distraction... It is largely defined to keep students from knowing themselves and their environment in any realistic sense; which is to say, it does not allow inquiry into most of the critical problems that comprise the content of the world outside the school (... one of the main differences between the "advantaged" student and the "disadvantaged" is that the former has an economic stake in giving his attention to the curriculum while the latter does not. In other words, the only relevance of the curriculum for the "advantaged" student is that, if he does what he is told, there will be a tangible payoff.)

„We have largely trapped ourselves in our schools into expending almost all of our energies and resources in the direction of preserving patterns and procedures that make no sense even in their own terms. They simply do not produce the results that are claimed as their justification in the first place — quite the contrary.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: If every college teacher taught his courses in the manner we have suggested, there would be no needs for a methods course. Every course would be a course in methods of learning and, therefore, in methods of teaching. For example, a "literature" course would be a course in the process of learning how to read. A history course would be a course in the process of learning how to do history. And so on. But this is the most farfetched possibility of all since college teachers, generally speaking, are more fixated on the Trivia game, than any group of teachers in the educational hierarchy. Thus we are left with the hope that, if methods courses could be redesigned to be model learning environments, the educational revolution might begin. In other words, it will begin as soon as there are enough young teachers who sufficiently despise the crippling environments they are employed to supervise to want to subvert them. The revolution will begin to be visible when such teachers take the following steps (many students who have been through the course we have described do not regard these as "impractical"): 1. Eliminate all conventional "tests" and "testing." 2. Eliminate all "courses." 3. Eliminate all "requirements." 4. Eliminate all full time administrators and administrations. 5. Eliminate all restrictions that confine learners to sitting still in boxes inside of boxes.... the conditions we want to eliminate... happen to be the sources of the most common obstacles to learning. We have largely trapped ourselves in our schools into expending almost all of our energies and resources in the direction of preserving patterns and procedures that make no sense even in their own terms. They simply do not produce the results that are claimed as their justification in the first place — quite the contrary. If it is practical to persist in subsidizing at an ever-increasing social cost a system which condemns our youth to ten or 12 or 16 years of servitude in a totalitarian environment ostensibly for the purpose of training them to be fully functioning, self-renewing citizens of democracy, then we are vulnerable to whatever criticisms that can be leveled.

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

—  Neil Postman
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).

„You cannot avoid making judgements but you can become more conscious of the way in which you make them. This is critically important because once we judge someone or something we tend to stop thinking about them or it.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: You cannot avoid making judgements but you can become more conscious of the way in which you make them. This is critically important because once we judge someone or something we tend to stop thinking about them or it. Which means, among other things, that we behave in response to our judgements rather than to that to which is being judged. People and things are processes. Judgements convert them into fixed states. This is one reason that judgements are often self-fulfilling. If a boy, for example, is judged as being "dumb" and a "nonreader" early in his school career, that judgement sets into motion a series of teacher behaviors that cause the judgement to become self-fulfilling. What we need to do then, if we are seriously interested in helping students to become good learners, is to suspend or delay judgements about them. One manifestation of this is the ungraded elementary school. But you can practice suspending judgement yourself tomorrow. It doesn't require any major changes in anything in the school except your own behavior.

Publicidade

„Since there is no such thing as complete knowledge of a subject, one is always working to improve one's reading, writing, etc., of a subject.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: Since there is no such thing as complete knowledge of a subject, one is always working to improve one's reading, writing, etc., of a subject. As Thomas Henry Huxley said, "If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, is there anyone who knows so much as to be out of danger?" …. The problems of learning to read or write are inexhaustible.

„If you eliminate all the words of a subject, you have eliminated the subject.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: As one learns the language of a subject, one is also learning what the subject is.... what we call a subject consists mostly, if not entirely, of its language. If you eliminate all the words of a subject, you have eliminated the subject.

„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
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."

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

—  Neil Postman
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.

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