Neil Postman on Print Culture and the Development of Intellect

“…In his books The Disappearance of Childhood (1982) and Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), Postman makes the case that as society moves away from print culture–wherein knowledge is amassed in stages, sequentially, forcing greater levels of rigor, maturity, and comprehension upon the reader–and toward mass media, we begin to lose the mechanism for civic life. Indeed, Postman contends that greater literacy is inextricably linked with the core defining traits of adult cognition and discourse: ‘A child evolves toward adulthood by acquiring the sort of intellect we expect of a good reader: a vigorous sense of individuality, the capacity to think logically and sequentially, the capacity to distance oneself from symbols, the capacity to manipulate high orders of abstraction, the capacity to defer gratification,'”

Excerpted from: Natasha Vargas-Cooper. “Childhood’s End: Which Disney Princess Is Neil Postman?” The Baffler No. 35 (Summer 2017)

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