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Neil Postman

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

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

Zitate Neil Postman

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„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

„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

„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

„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

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

— Neil Postman
Context: 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?"

„Print, in even more revolutionary ways than writing, changed the very form of civilization.“

— Neil Postman
Context: Print, in even more revolutionary ways than writing, changed the very form of civilization.... the Protestant Revolution was contemporaneous with the invention of moving type.... the printing and distribution of millions of Bibles made possible a more personal religion, as the Word of God rested on each man's kitchen table. The book, by isolating the reader and his responses, tended to separate him from the powerful oral influences of his family, teacher, and priest. Print thus created a new conception of self as well as of self-interest. At the same time, the printing press provided the wide circulation necessary to create national literatures and intense pride in one's native language. Print thus promoted individualism on one hand and nationalism on the other.

„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
Context: 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.

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

— Neil Postman
Context: 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.

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

— Neil Postman
Context: 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.

„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
Context: 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.

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

— Neil Postman
Context: 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.

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