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Creative Commons 2.5

Narrative: Neil Postman - Are You Talking To Me?

Neil Postman has recently passed away, but his work will remain with us. Although he consciously avoided becoming an expert in the traditional sense, it is clear that he was expert at asking questions that revealed hidden assumptions. He was also an expert in probing answers to these questions across a broad range of experiences...

  • Whose problem is that and why should I believe that it matters to me?
  • What is the solution to the problem you describe?
  • What is the end of education?
  • To whom will the technology give greater power and freedom? And whose power and freedom will be reduced by it?
  • Will the widespread use of computers in the classroom defeat once and for all the claims of communal speech?
  • Will the computer raise egocentrism to the status of a virtue?
  • What problem does the information solve? Is it lack of information about how to grow food that keeps millions at starvation levels? Is it lack of information that brings soaring crime rates and physical decay to our cities? Is it lack of information that leads to high divorce rates and keeps the beds of mental institutions filled to overflowing?
  • Are you talking to me?

Neil Postman: A Quote That Demands Attention

What had happened - the underlying structural change - was that through print and its handmaiden, the school, adults found themselves with unprecedented control over the symbolic environment of the young, and were therefore able and required to set forth the conditions by which a child was to become an adult.

In saying this, I do not mean to imply that adults were always aware of what they were doing or why they were doing it. To a considerable extent developments were dictated by the nature of both books and schools. For example, by writing sequenced textbooks and by organizing school classes according to calendar age, schoolmasters invented, as it were, the stages of childhood. Our notions of what a child can learn or ought to learn, and at what ages, were largely derived from the concept of sequenced curriculum; that is to say, from the concept of the prerequisite.
- The Disappearance of Childhood

Career Overview

Internationally recognized scholar and critic, he was the author of 17 published books. His most recent work was Building a Bridge to the 18th Century. His articles have been published and have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper's, Time Magazine, The Saturday Review, The Harvard Education Review, The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, Stern, and Le Monde. In 1986 he was given the George Orwell Award for clarity in Language by the National Council of Teachers of English. Other awards include the Christian Lindback Award for excellence in teaching and Distinguished Teacher Award--one of many awards received in his 38 years of teaching at New York University.
- Stirring Up Trouble About Technology, Language, and Education - Interview by Eugene Rubin


  • Neil Postman (1931-2003): Some Recollections
  • Neil Postman Online
  • Stirring Up Trouble About Technology, Language, and Education - Interview by Eugene Rubin
  • Science and the Story That We Need
  • Time Magazine: Profile of Philo Farnsworth - Inventor of the Television
  • PBS Online: Neil Postman Ponders High Tech
  • Technos: Of Luddites, Learning & Life
  • Technos: Deus Machina
  • German Informatics Society: Informing Ourselves To Death
  • ibliblio: Neil Postman
  • Furl Archive: Neil Postman

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