The End of Education title is a double-entendre meaning not only the possible ending of education as we know it, and also an exploration of purpose of education. He anticipates the way in which teachers generally plan for education now, with the end in mind with this second meaning. Neil Postman writing in the 90s is among the most 1990s things I can conceive of. What this means is that while he’s very very on to something about the failures of contemporary education, that focuses on an unthinking adoption of technology for technology’s sake and for education to be a capitalist cog-making machine. Both of these are incredibly fair critiques that still resonate with education today in my experiences as a teacher. I don’t think the technology part is changing, and is getting worse, but I do think there’s some push-back to the capitalism cog-making part, but that’s also complicated. He discusses how as purposes for education these fail for a lot of reasons, the most being that they are too limited, too specific, and too depressing/uninspiring for kids. They might make good workers, but they don’t make good people.
Postman suggests a number of new narratives to replace these two, and a few of these are quite good. Seeing ourselves (teachers, students, citizens) as “fallen angels”, crew members of “Spaceship Earth” and “World Makers” (storytellers). All good. He falls over himself in two other areas. He cannot shut up about how much he hates multiculturism and how much he wants schools to teach to love America. His opinions about multiculturism are not only out-dated and racists, they completely ignore that multiculturism developed out of systemic inequality that really made it impossible for a straight up “you should love America” agenda to be taken seriously without significant reform, and of course he misses the most important issue: teaching about “loving America” and those other traditional values is also identity politics and race-based teaching, through teaching whiteness as default.