Saturday, January 14, 2006

Technopoly, Chapter 4 - The Improbable World

Reflection on Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, by Neil Postman, ISBN 0-679-74540-8; pages 56-70.

I was very impressed by the intellectual power of this writing. It congealed a very large period of history in a way I have not heard before, and did so very effectively. I personally would not perform experiments with untruths on unsuspecting, innocent people as Postman says he did; but he makes a good point in illustrating how poorly most people employ critical-thinking skills.

The extension of this point is a powerful truth - the world we live in is so inundated with mind-boggling amounts of "information" that it has become virtually impossible to know very much about anything.

I found the author's example of an ordered versus a shuffled deck of cards (with the shuffled deck representing the chaotic nature of our current culture's "information" structure) very insightful.

In a side note, I find that this is also an excellent way of conceptualizing the difference between a good course of study and a poor one. As a first year teacher, I fear that my course outline (loosely termed) is far too shuffled to be very good. I have been scrambling to simply come up with decent lesson plans from day to day; and as far as them being well-ordered, and building a gradual and logical progression... well, I'll do better in the future.

The author's point is true - the problems of the world are not now due to a lack of information. We are assaulted by "information" from every angle. I am not a Buddhist, but I can certainly see the spiritual point in leading a simple, meditative life of "chopping wood, carrying water."

In a sense, information itself may well have become "the enemy." Our current world is built upon an ever-changing landscape of information. The question is, does this landscape allow anyplace where it is possible to put down roots?

This is an issue that I have thought about before. I have heard it discussed from various perspectives prior to reading this article. However, I had not heard or read this particular approach before, and I am very glad that I now have.

3 Comments:

Blogger Joanna said...

I remember my dad saying how important he thought it was to know a little about a lot because you could always add to that information if you became engaged in a meaningful conversation with someone that was an "expert". Of course, sometimes that means you look like the idiot because of misinformation. I don't know what is best, but there is a lot of infomration out there to suit all of our fancies.

I think you are probably contributing more than you give yourself credit regarding your lesson plans. You have a heart that pours out more than something written on paper to guide you than you realize. Keep your strong will to be a great teacher and you will exceed your highest expectations.

10:57 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger Joanna said...

I remember my dad saying how important he thought it was to know a little about a lot because you could always add to that information if you became engaged in a meaningful conversation with someone that was an "expert". Of course, sometimes that means you look like the idiot because of misinformation. I don't know what is best, but there is a lot of infomration out there to suit all of our fancies.

I think you are probably contributing more than you give yourself credit regarding your lesson plans. You have a heart that pours out more than something written on paper to guide you than you realize. Keep your strong will to be a great teacher and you will exceed your highest expectations.

10:57 AM, January 18, 2006  
Blogger mausein said...

I enjoyed how the time period was "congealed" as well. I thought it got the point across crystal clear.
You stated his point very clearly with the question - Does this landscape allow anyplace where it is possible to put down roots? I tend to believe it is very difficult to put down roots when technology is changing so rapidly. Technology, e.g. personal computer, is nearly obsolete after a month of ownership. Who can keep up, with all the updates and newest additions and added benefits? Do you really want to? Is it really a choice anymore? One has to stay on top of things to keep unscrupulous individuals at arms length.

7:03 PM, January 23, 2006  

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