Of the education authors I have been reading for Twitter Book Club, I have to say that Postman stands out for his way with words. Reading his work I am impressed with the ideas he presents but am floored with the skill with which he conveys them.
"So far, America's answer has largely been, Believe in a market economy, which is not much of a story, not much of an answer." Postman
"The problem is that America's better gods have been badly wounded." Postman
The theme that runs throughout this entire chapter is that the more noble purposes in American society have been corrupted and co-opted by the "god of Economic Utility" and the "god of Consumership." The more noble purposes of civic engagement, democracy, and freedom have been pushed aside and diminished by these two behemoths. If the evidence of this was present in 1996 it certainly can't be ignored today. From the message sent to us by our political leaders to the conversion of our public institutions to corporate management to visually deafening presence of marketing in nearly every urban environment the message is clear: Buy things and you will be happy, buy things and you will be helping our country, buy things, buy things, buy things.
"Moreover, the idea that America, through an enlightened foreign policy, may serve as a moral light unto (cont) http://tl.gd/6bq409
"Through all the turmoil, it is well to keep in mind that a wounded god is different from a dead one." Postman
"the almost worldwide return to 'tribalism' signifies a search to recover a source of transcendent identity and values." Postman
"There can, of course, be no functioning sense of a great narrative without a measure of respect for its symbols." Postman
What symbols do we hold respect for today? What symbols represent our shared narrative? I really don't know.
"How are such symbols now used? Take almost any of America's once great narratives and we can see...[The (cont) http://tl.gd/6bqa3p
"The evidence for the superiority of one method over another is usually given in the language of (cont) http://tl.gd/6bqbm4
"There was a time when educators became famous for providing reasons for learning; now they become famous for inventing a method." Postman
"Free human dialogue, wandering wherever the agile mind allows, lies at the heart of education." Postman
"Those who believe in it are inclined to compare the achievements of American schoolchildren with those of (cont) http://tl.gd/6bqebh
Isn't this the exactly what we keep hearing? Isn't this more prevalent now than ever before?
"the god of Economic Utility. As its name suggests, it is a passionless god...Its driving idea is that the (cont) http://tl.gd/6bqebu
"The story goes on to preach that America is not so much a culture as it is an economy, and that the (cont) http://tl.gd/6bqecv
"Any education that is mainly about economic utility is far too limited to be useful, and, in any case, so (cont) http://tl.gd/6bqevj
"the reason [for its strength] is that the god of Economic Utility is coupled with another god...the god of Consumership." Postman
"the god of Consumership is intimately connected with still another great narrative, the god of Technology." Postman
"television messages about consumership and technology come largely in the form of religious parables." Postman
"This will be obvious to those who have taken to heart the Parable of the Person with Rotten Breath, the (cont) http://tl.gd/6bql68
Here is perhaps where I split with Postman, though I can't be certain. Oddly enough, I believe that the way back to our old gods is through the very technology that has also given strength to the gods of Economic Utility and Consumership. It is through our connections with people in our online networks, through sharing of information and stories via participation in citizen journalism, through an emerging form of mass tribalism that either the old gods or even perhaps new ones will be resurrected or born. When corporately-owned media use their platform to silence the voices of teachers who speak to a more noble purpose for education in their "National Conversation" on education reform or television talk shows and use their position to make sure the conversation never gets away from that which might support these two reigning gods it is through technology that that voice can be restored.
Traditional media, media controlled by the corporations, is loosing its grip, its monopoly on the attention of the American public. It seems every day a newspaper either closes, goes online, or decides to make reductions. Nielsen ratings certainly show a decline in television use in the home. The reigning gods know this and understand the danger. That is why they have their disciples advocate for the elimination of Net Neutrality, a policy that has served to ensure the old gods do not completely wither and die.