Is Television a Good way of Learning?

After reading the essay Television as Teacher written by Neil Postman, who was known for asking hard questions about the bad effects of popular culture, it got me thinking about how much I agree with most of what he says. Let me make a quick summary for you to understand: In this essay Postman emphasizes in how learning and entertaining are closely related and he focuses on the power of television this days and how, in some cases, it can be a good idea to include in a school’s way of teaching. Nevertheless, he presents various studies that show how most people retain better with the old way of learning dictated by the written word. 

In one of the paragraphs he mentions how “America is, in fact, the leading case in point of what may be thought of as the third great crisis in Western education… as a result of the electronic revolution. page 423)” for the full understanding of this concept he suggests us to read Marshall McLuhan and after a little bit of research in about McLuhan’s life and work. It called to my attention when they mention “McLuhan’s message about media conditioning would find a later echo by parents and educators concerned that too much television viewing conditioned children to become passive observers.” (paragraph 7th and how this threat is already happening as Postman says “we face the rapid dissolution of the assumptions of an education organized around the slow-moving printed word, and the equally rapid emergence of a new education based on the speed of light electronic image. (page 423)” What he means by this is that technology is growing so fast that only schools that keep up with this growth, will remain as a strong form of education.

After all, the thing that really caught my eye was the sentence “Teaching and entertainment are inseparable (page 424)”. But this can be with board games and sports rather than sitting in front of a screen and if the case is that the only way to actually be entertained by learning is television then we must teach our children how to watch it critically and how to choose which shows are appropriate and which are not, in order to get the most out of it (page 429).

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