Friday, March 30, 2012

Scholar YOU Should Know- Neil Postman

Neil Postman was an American author, educator, media theorist, and a culture critic born March 8, 1931. He was a communications professor at New York University and was best known for his book about television titled, "Amusing Ourselves to Death". He was a firm believer that, "new technology can never substitute for human values". 

Neil Postman, a native New Yorker, graduated in 1953 from the State University of New York at Fredonia. He received a master's degree in 1955 and a doctorate in education in 1958, both from the Teachers College, Columbia, and started teaching at N.Y.U. in 1959. He was a chair in the field of media ecology and his eforts was fueled by his idea of television polluting society. He felt that only in the print world 'could complicated truths be rationally revealed'.

Dr. Postman wrote more than 200 magazine and newspaper articles and 20 books, starting in 1961 with "Television and the Teaching of English." His media and education influences werepresent in his seventeen print works including, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), Conscientious Objections (1988), Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992), and End of Education (1995). Not to mention articles found in Teacher Magazine and Education Week.


In 1971, he founded the program in media ecology at the Steinhardt School of Education of N.Y.U. Over the years, he attracted a large audience for his lectures and writings. In 1993 he was appointed a University Professor, the only one in the School of Education, and was chairman of the department of culture and communication until last year.
His impact on education speaks for itself. He was very passionate about spreading a positive message about education. He is not only acknowledged for his educational influence but also his influence on technological advances and respect for Americas traditions and appreciation of it's diversity.
Neil Postman posted five things we need to know about technological change which includes,
1."All technological change is a trade-off; This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage."
2. "The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population.This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others."
3. "Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes two or three powerful ideas"
4. "Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new medium does not add something; it changes everything."
5. "Media tend to become mythic."

Unfortunately, Neil Postman died at the age of 72 in 2003. The cause of his death was lung cancer. I would like to leave you with a few quotes from this remarkable man to give a sense of what he stood for.
 
"Television is altering the meaning of "being informed" by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information - misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information - information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing"

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see"

"When I hear people talk about the information super highway, it will become possible to shop at home, and bank at home, and get your texts at home, and get your entertainment at home, so I often wonder if this doesn't signify the end of any community life"


                                                           

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