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Neil Postman

Geburtstag: 8. März 1931
Todesdatum: 5. Oktober 2003

Neil Postman war ein US-amerikanischer Medienwissenschaftler, insbesondere ein Kritiker des Mediums Fernsehen und in den 1980er-Jahren ein bekannter Sachbuchautor. Wikipedia

Zitate Neil Postman

„Problematisch am Fernsehen ist nicht, dass es uns unterhaltsame Themen präsentiert, problematisch ist, dass es jedes Thema als Unterhaltung präsentiert.“

—  Neil Postman

Wir amüsieren uns zu Tode. Frankfurt am Main, 1985. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. ISBN 3-10-062407-6

„Der Bürokrat, der sich mit einem Computer gewappnet hat, ist der heimliche Gesetzgeber unserer Zeit und zugleich eines ihrer größten Übel.“

—  Neil Postman

Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 125. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„Die Historiker kommen im allgemeinen nicht zur Hochzeit, sondern zum Begräbnis. In jedem Falle tun sie sich mit einer Autopsie leichter als mit der Berichterstattung über offene Entwicklungsprozesse“

—  Neil Postman

Das Verschwinden der Kindheit. Frankfurt am Main, 1987. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. ISBN 9783596238552, ISBN 978-3596238552

„Die Historiker wissen auch, dass sie ihre Geschichten zu einem bestimmten Zweck schreiben - nicht selten, um die Gegenwart entweder zu verherrlichen oder zu verdammen.“

—  Neil Postman

Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 204. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„In vieler Hinsicht funktioniert ein Satz durchaus wie eine Maschine, und dies zeigt sich nirgendwo deutlicher als in jenen Sätzen, die wir Fragen nennen.“

—  Neil Postman

Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 136. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„Ohne konkrete Symbole ist der Computer bloß ein Haufen Schrott.“

—  Neil Postman

Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 123. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3-10-062413-0

„Wenn das Fernrohr das Auge war, das den Zugang zu einer Welt neuer Tatsachen eröffnete und zu neuen Methoden, um diese Tatsachen zu ermitteln, dann war die Druckpresse das Stimmband.“

—  Neil Postman

Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 73. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory.“

—  Neil Postman

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985)
Kontext: Henry David Thoreau told us: "All our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end." …Goethe told us: "One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it is possible, speak a few reasonable words." …Socrates told us: "The unexamined life is not worth living." …the prophet Micah told us: "What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?" And I can tell you... what Confucius, Isaiah, Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, Spinoza and Shakespeare told us... There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory.

„In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them.“

—  Neil Postman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969)
Kontext: In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom's message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called "convergent questions," but what might more simply be called "Guess what I am thinking " questions.

„The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information. …control mechanisms are strained…“

—  Neil Postman

Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992)
Kontext: The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information.... control mechanisms are strained... When additional control mechanisms are themselves technical, they in turn further increase the supply of information. When the supply of information is no longer controllable, a general breakdown in psychic tranquillity and social purpose occurs. Without defenses, people have no way of finding meaning in their experiences, lose their capacity to remember, and have difficulty imagining reasonable futures.

„Eliminate all restrictions that confine learners to sitting still in boxes inside of boxes.“

—  Neil Postman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity (1969)
Kontext: If every college teacher taught his courses in the manner we have suggested, there would be no needs for a methods course. Every course would be a course in methods of learning and, therefore, in methods of teaching. For example, a "literature" course would be a course in the process of learning how to read. A history course would be a course in the process of learning how to do history. And so on. But this is the most farfetched possibility of all since college teachers, generally speaking, are more fixated on the Trivia game, than any group of teachers in the educational hierarchy. Thus we are left with the hope that, if methods courses could be redesigned to be model learning environments, the educational revolution might begin. In other words, it will begin as soon as there are enough young teachers who sufficiently despise the crippling environments they are employed to supervise to want to subvert them. The revolution will begin to be visible when such teachers take the following steps (many students who have been through the course we have described do not regard these as "impractical"): 1. Eliminate all conventional "tests" and "testing." 2. Eliminate all "courses." 3. Eliminate all "requirements." 4. Eliminate all full time administrators and administrations. 5. Eliminate all restrictions that confine learners to sitting still in boxes inside of boxes.... the conditions we want to eliminate... happen to be the sources of the most common obstacles to learning. We have largely trapped ourselves in our schools into expending almost all of our energies and resources in the direction of preserving patterns and procedures that make no sense even in their own terms. They simply do not produce the results that are claimed as their justification in the first place — quite the contrary. If it is practical to persist in subsidizing at an ever-increasing social cost a system which condemns our youth to ten or 12 or 16 years of servitude in a totalitarian environment ostensibly for the purpose of training them to be fully functioning, self-renewing citizens of democracy, then we are vulnerable to whatever criticisms that can be leveled.

„All reading, in truth, is reading in a content area.“

—  Neil Postman

Language Education in a Knowledge Context (1980)
Kontext: All reading, in truth, is reading in a content area. To read the phrase "the law of diminishing returns" or "the law of supply and demand" requires that you know how the word "law" is used in economics, for it does not mean what it does in the phrase "the law of inertia" (physics) or "Grimm's law" (linguistics) or "the law of the land" (political science) or "the law of survival of the fittest" (biology). To the question, "What does 'law' mean?" the answer must always be, "In what context?"

„Language education… may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art.“

—  Neil Postman

Language Education in a Knowledge Context (1980)
Kontext: It may come as a surprise to our technocrat philosophers, but people do not read, write, speak, or listen primarily for the purpose of achieving a test score. They use language in order to conduct their lives, and to control their lives, and to understand their lives. An improvement in one's language abilities is therefore... observed in changes in one's purposes, perceptions, and evaluations. Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art. "Art," he said in Quintessence of Ibsenismn, "should refine our sense of character and conduct, of justice and sympathy, greatly heightening our self knowledge, self-control, precision of action and considerateness, and making us intolerant of baseness, cruelty, injustice, and intellectual superficialty and vulgarity." …For my purposes, if you replace the word "art" with the phrase "language education," you will have a precise statement of what I have been trying to say.

„What causes us the most misery and pain… has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers.“

—  Neil Postman

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985)
Kontext: What causes us the most misery and pain... has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers. The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot provide an organizing moral framework. It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking. It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most. The computer is... a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we most need to confront — spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable conceptions of the past and future.

„The type who is now successful may be regarded as a handicapped learner — slow to respond, far too detached, lacking in emotion, inadequate in creating mental pictures of reality.“

—  Neil Postman

Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992)
Kontext: Who knows what schools will be like twenty-five years from now? Or fifty? In time, the type of student who is currently a failure may be considered a success. The type who is now successful may be regarded as a handicapped learner — slow to respond, far too detached, lacking in emotion, inadequate in creating mental pictures of reality. Consider: what Thamus called the "conceit of wisdom" — the unreal knowledge acquired through the written word — eventually became the pre-eminent form of knowledge valued by the schools. There is no reason to suppose that such a form of knowledge must always remain so highly valued.

„No one I have ever known is so brilliant as to have learned the languages of all fields of knowledge equally well. Most of us do not learn some of them at all.“

—  Neil Postman

Language Education in a Knowledge Context (1980)
Kontext: The question, "How well does one read?" is a bad question... essentially unanswerable. A more proper question is "How well does one read poetry, or history, or science, or religion?" No one I have ever known is so brilliant as to have learned the languages of all fields of knowledge equally well. Most of us do not learn some of them at all.

„It may come as a surprise to our technocrat philosophers, but people do not read, write, speak, or listen primarily for the purpose of achieving a test score. They use language in order to conduct their lives, and to control their lives, and to understand their lives.“

—  Neil Postman

Language Education in a Knowledge Context (1980)
Kontext: It may come as a surprise to our technocrat philosophers, but people do not read, write, speak, or listen primarily for the purpose of achieving a test score. They use language in order to conduct their lives, and to control their lives, and to understand their lives. An improvement in one's language abilities is therefore... observed in changes in one's purposes, perceptions, and evaluations. Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art. "Art," he said in Quintessence of Ibsenismn, "should refine our sense of character and conduct, of justice and sympathy, greatly heightening our self knowledge, self-control, precision of action and considerateness, and making us intolerant of baseness, cruelty, injustice, and intellectual superficialty and vulgarity." …For my purposes, if you replace the word "art" with the phrase "language education," you will have a precise statement of what I have been trying to say.

„Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.“

—  Neil Postman

Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992)
Kontext: Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.... until the seventeenth century, all cultures were tool-users.... the main characteristic of all tool-using cultures is that their tools were largely invented to do two things: to solve specific and urgent problems of physical life, such as in the use of waterpower, windmills, and the heavy-wheeled plow; or to serve the symbolic world of art, politics, myth, ritual, and religion, as in the construction of castles and cathedrals and the development of the mechanical clock. In either case, tools (... were not intended to attack) the dignity and integrity of the culture into which they were introduced. With some exceptions, tools did not prevent people from believing in their traditions, in their God, in their politics, in their methods of education, or in the legitimacy of their social organization...

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