Summary Of Building A Bridge To The 18th Century By Neil Postman

Decent Essays
An Analysis of Postman’s View on Education
In Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, Neil Postman explains his views on how we can improve the future by looking to the past for inspiration. One of the topics he spends a great deal of time discussing is education. and how the education of the young should change. Postman believes that people should be educated to be skeptical as philosophes of the 18th century believed. He has five suggestions on how this should be carried out. Before introducing his suggestions, Postman tackles the question of why skepticism isn’t already taught in schools. He notes the importance of skepticism in the 18th century, calling it “the principal mindset associated with the Enlightenment” (159). So, why didn’t something
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Postman believes that schools are trying to avoid the upheaval that comes with critical thinking, going as far as to say that “ a free-thinking populace might reject the goals of its nation-state” (160). In other words, he’s saying that people who know how to think critically are harder to keep under control. He also addressed the concern that an education in skepticism may not work by countering with the idea that “there’s no guarantee that anything done to or for children in school works” (160). Some may have reservations anyway, but Postman wants to try for it.
His first suggestion is to teach children how to ask questions, or as he puts it, “the art and science of asking questions” (161). He refers to question asking as “the most significant intellectual skill available to human beings” (161), which shows just how highly he regards the skill. He
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He explains that this doesn’t mean that schools should teach children how to use technology. Rather, he means that he’d like to see “the psychological, social, and political effects” (170) of technology discussed. He explains that many can use a computer, but few can see how it affects them. Postman wants to see the history of technology discussed, along with how technology changes and the “economic and social” (171) effects of technology. Without this, he thinks that people will remain ignorant. Postman believes that “american students are the most ignorant” (171) of the students he’s encountered, and insinuates that this is at least partially due to the lack of “technology education” (170). He says that this is important if we want people to use computers instead of get used by

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