Monday, November 29, 2010

Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner (1969) Teaching as a Subversive Activity - Chapter 10

New Languages: The Media

"The fact that the new media are inseparable from the changes occurring in the environment requires that (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

I believe the authors were speaking primarily about television, film, and radio here given the date of publication but this ought to extend exponentially to today's connective digital media. How anyone can still ignore it is beyond me.

"One of the facts that invariably emerges from any study of human communication is that anxiety, suspicion, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The invention of writing produced a chain of more or less radical reactions at almost every level of society." Postman & Weingartnerless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Resistance to [print media] came largely from those who had collected expansive libraries of manuscripts (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

Sounds like history is repeating itself. Web 2.0 in conjunction with open and wide access to information online is undercutting the need for textbooks in schools or even for schools to be places where students come to get information. It is also undermining the television broadcast business, the newspaper business, and every other institution that has any claim to be a publisher or broadcaster of some sort. We see this with the "To Catch A Predator" scare tactics used by NBC. We see this with the Texas Board of Education in their decisions about curriculum. We see this with Pearson and other textbook publishers who see the writing on the wall and their eminent demise. This is why there is a push by telecom companies to push for elimination of net neutrality. This very issue is at the heart of so much debate in education today. I've used this clip before but it applies here as well. What the powerful information peddlers like the textbook companies, schools that are heavily knowledge-centered, broadcasters, and print publishers are afraid you will find out is that what they sell--indeed what they have can provide--is nothing more than an illusion caused by a fixed perception. They wish to make an open system closed.

Since I began teaching ten years ago I have almost always run into students who like to call me "Mister Anderson" referring to the way Agent Smith addresses Neo in the Matrix.

I am going to be bold here and say that in some ways this may be a slightly self-fulfilling prophecy. While Neo liberated people from a world that was not real, a world comprised of only digital illusion, I aim to liberate people from the illusion of the propriety of information. It has always been my purpose and the reason I continue to work so hard. It is the reason I do Twitter Book Club. It is the reason I do Weekly Tech Tips. It is the reason behind most of my interactions with teachers both in the schools where I work and at conferences where I speak. My work is not as theatrical as The Matrix but it is a fun personal imagination adventure to use Neo as a metaphor for what I aim to do. Essentially, this is what the aim of progressive educators out to be. Wesley Fryer always cites his friend Marco Torres as using the phrase, "Who are your Yoda's?" I am more interested in who are your Neo's?

"Once they have become literate, most people have intellectual and emotional powers that are irrevocable." Postman & Weingartnerless than a minute ago via Twittelator

I believe this is true about critical thinking skills as well. Once someone is taught how to be mindfully skeptical it is a skill that cannot be revoked.

"The way to be liberated from the constraining effects of any medium is to develop a perspective on (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Being literate in the process of any medium (language) leaves one at the mercy of those who control it." Postman & Weingartnerless than a minute ago via Twittelator

Which is why it is critical for our students to learn how to take control of and be able to produce their own digital media.

No comments: