September 2015 Book of the Month
In his seminal book,, Neil Postman argues that the invention of the printing press had a profound impact on society and the concept of childhood. Literacy reformed the adult world by creating a required skill set for entry into adulthood. Prior to the development of moveable type, few people in society could read well and the history of knowledge was oral. After the development of the printing press, reading became an adult skill. With literacy came adult “secrets,” information available only to adults who could read. In addition, literacy required schools to teach children how to read.
According to Postman the slow disappearance of childhood began with the advent of electronic communication. Rapid transmission of knowledge and a reliance on visual imagery verses thewritten word replaced the need for literacy. Watching TV requires no skill base. In fact it does not even require a decent attention span. A child watching TV can know everything about the world that an adult knows–sex, violence, commercialism, dirty words. Published in 1982 it is easy to see how prophetic Postman’s original hypothesis has turned out to be.
Here’s to fruitful, evidence based reading! Let’s put our heads together in 2013 and think about how to create a world capable of supporting both ourselves and generations to come.