Teaching As An Amusing Activity

Teaching As An Amusing Activity

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The Entertainment in Education
In Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death, he discusses the
impact that television has on the American culture. Postman talks about how much the American culture hands itself over to the television and he show the ways that it is being done He shows the impact that television has on the written word, education, and the youth in America. Postman explains how the way teaching has changed to make it easier for our youth to understand and how they aren't bettering the curriculum but making it more entertaining.
Somehow the television has crept into the school systems of America
and is now becoming, sadly, a vital part of the education of our youth. I consider it
a huge problem because we are putting the thing that causes our minds to shut
down in front of us in school! In what way does it cause our minds to shut down
you might ask? At a very young age we are taught that the television is supposed
to be used for fun and entertainment, so the first time that something does not
catch our interests we change the channel. Postman talks about this and makes
mention of the effects a show like "Sesame Street" has on us by saying that there
are many things about these kinds of shows that catch our eyes and please us and
serve as preparation for entry into a fun-loving culture (142). But in reality it turns
out that not all learning is fun and that sometimes effort is required to learn. Postman also says this "Mainly, they will have learned that learning is a form of entertainment or, more precisely, that anything worth learning is a form of entertainment, and out to" (154) .
Postman says, "You will find it is said by some that children will learn
the best when they are interested in what they are learning" (146). Okay sure, by
this point our children are convinced form their experiences when they were
growing up that television is entertainment. So if the only things we are interested
in are the things that catch our attention then what is it that is being taught if we
are learning things that only catch our interest? Things like "The Voyage of the
Mimi" are being used to teach our youth. The television series just mentioned is an

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educational drama used in many of the schools across America and it teaches kids
how to track down whales or to live on an uninhabitable island. The American
culture today tends to confuse entertainment with education and it is helping to
stupefy our next generation.
In his chapter "Teaching as an Amusing Activity" Postman states that
television is becoming more and more apart of the a curriculum in education and
that classroom curriculum seems to be moving further and further away from the
written word. I fully agree with what he says about this. It happens far to often for
that our culture will take the easy way out of learning. Our culture has made a
conscious decision to incorporate every type of media into education except the
written word. The further away culture gets from the written word the further it
gets from thinking. Postman states in his book "One is entirely justified in saying
that the major educational enterprise now being undertaken in the United States in
not happening in its classrooms but in the home in front of the television set"
(145).This is a valid point involving television becoming part of curriculum.
The point that Postman makes about the rapid movement away from
the written word is extremely valid. However this is just a small part of an
extremely serious problem in America. The American culture has been taught that
the best way is the easiest way. The introduction of television into the school
system has given an opportunity to cut out reading and other time consuming
methods of learning. The problem that most Americans don't understand is the
absence of literature makes it impossible to attain profitable information.
Trying to merge education and entertainment is like trying to bring two
magnets together that are of the same polarity. The two just don't go together and
they refuse to. Teachers can try but they will all fall short of this. The two cannot
be combined because they mean opposite things. For learning to be entertaining
would be an oxymoron, because the meaning of the word 'amusing" is the act of not thinking! It is pointless to try and make the two coexist and live peacefully without things going awry.
A common misconception is all knowledge gained from television is
worthwhile. Postman clearly states that this is not the case and, all knowledge is
necessarily worth knowing. In an earlier passage Postman quotes Henry David
Thoreau as asking whether the telegraph was necessarily worth having and if it
would deliver valid information around the country. He was correct about the
telegraph and how it spread inconsequential information around the country. The
television is the same way, it spreads loads useless information. Most of all the
information heard on the news is absolutely useless.
I agree with Postman about what he believes about the effects of
television on the educational system. The culture is dummying down the education
in schools by trying to mix it with entertainment and it is ruining the educational
system. Because of the television the future generations of of America have been
severely stupefied and are more illiterate than previous generations.
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