CHAPTER 3: “Typographic America”
1. Does anything surprise you in Postman’s analysis throughout this chapter of American culture during the colonial days? If so, what surprised you and why?
If you found nothing surprising, explain why.
2. Our author has a history as an iconoclastic thinker and writer. Back in 1969, Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner published a book called Teaching as a Subversive Activity. In it, they advocated a radically different view of education and learning, including training one’s mind to question traditional thinking (they termed these skills “crap detectors).” Instead, one should ground all learning in real world experience. They encouraged students to follow their curiosities. Let’s turn the tables for a moment. So far in your reading of this book, have your “crap detectors” gone off at all? If so, where? If not, then why not? Has he turned you off on the topic of the cultural impacts of new technology or made you more curious?
3. Postman notes the importance of the printed word’s monopoly (his italics) in pre-radio/TV/Internet America. What does he claim is the importance of this monopoly on public discourse – and how do you think the arrival of those other media may have changed/be changing/will change public discourse?
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