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Postman Paper

Samantha Laraia

ET 690

Loyola University Maryland

Dr. Marcovitz

Postmans Technology Principles

What does it mean?

Education in America is the perfect example of something that has never stayed

consistently the same. At its core, we have our teaching practices and the guidelines we should

follow. We have our standards, common tasks, student learning objectives, and expectations we

are told to follow and instinctively, that is what we do. Every educator has his or her own reasons

for wanting to become teachers. But, when we became teachers or decided that this is the career

path we wanted to take, we never really considered how much would change. Technology has in

itself, the potential to change the face of education. The question is- is this a good thing or a


Every type and kind of technology is created for a reason. The reasoning behind the

creation and use of technology are there to help people think and enhance whatever process they

are a part of. Not everyone has issues with new technology as it is introduced but it is a push and

pull effect. Technology is great, but for every plus there is a delta. Just because it is a good

technology for one person (or one student in a class) does not mean that this technology can help

or be good for every person or student. For example, technology has enhanced our ability to give

tests and assessments and finish them in a more efficient way. But, this means that there is also

easier ways to give standardized tests and that there will be more tests. This, in my opinion, is

where political, intellectual, and content biases can begin to occur.

Expansion of the Meaning of Principles

A thought I keep returning to as I write this paper is technology is great, but There

are so many advantages to technology in education and that is usually all we hear about. As

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Postman says, all technology is a Faustian bargain. There is something great about it, but there is

always a disadvantage. But not all technology needs to solve a problem. As stated above, all

applications and technologies are created for a specific reason. With technology being created for

these reasons, there are biases on all levels and platforms.

Technology can help but also hurt. The whole point of technology is that it is meant to

enhance whatever task is being done. If we think of the SAMR model, the whole point is to

move past that first stage of substitution. There will always be some part of any population that

will not benefit from technology, but then there will be some that rely on technology. Think

about all of the apps that we use to track our health, finances, and social lives. Then think about

countries that have extremely remote areas, the poor who cannot afford any sort of technology, or

even people who do not have access to technology in their homes. Sure, in education we can use

all of these apps and websites and tools to help students learn better and more actively, but what

about when they go home and dont have anymore access to it? How is that fair or useful to


For example, think of students in our classrooms. There are so many lessons that can be

enhanced by technology, but there are also things we are losing because of technology. This is

the Faustian bargain that Postman continuously references throughout the book. Technology is

inhibiting social skills, communication, handwriting, writing in cursive, and more. Technology is

an awesome addition to education because of the assistive technology, but it is also inhibiting our

kids ability to function on a basic level because everything can be substituted.

Technology in Education regarding Postmans Narratives/Principles

Throughout the book Postman discusses many different narratives that can relate to

technology, education, and the combination of the two. I want to refer back to the narrative of

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The Fallen Angel here. Technology is the perfect example of a fallen angel because it is

imperfect and can/will make mistakes. It is inevitable. Just like no human is perfect, neither is

any technology. As Postman says, there are three conclusions when it comes to error. On pages

120-122 in the book he refers to the idea that errors are made by everybody, error is reducible,

and that error is mostly an issue when it comes to talking. I think that all three of these

conclusions from his narrative can be directly related to the use of technology in education.

In education we want kids to make mistakes. I encourage my students to take risks even

though they do not know what the outcome will be. I love the fact that many students are will to

take risks because they see it as a learning experience. In my classroom I make sure to point out

to my students when I make mistakes. Sure, it is embarrassing and twelve year olds like to make

fun of anyone who makes a mistake. But I purposely point out these errors I make because my

hope is that they will realize that mistakes are okay and normal. Without failure, progress is

generally not made.

Technology being used in education is an error or failure waiting to happen. The easiest

example is the fact that most technology (specifically Chromebooks in MCPS) are reliant on

having strong wireless internet connections to work. When we were testing MAP-R (for reading

scores) this week the Internet went down across the entire county. This is not an error that can be

predicted necessarily, but it proves that errors are made by everyone. The tests were halted and

the kids could not move forward. This completely threw off their scores and the kids were really

upset. It also changed plans for the whole class period because since the tests were already

loaded we could not move forward with what I would have like to teach due to the fact that we

had the MAP testing up on the computers. This is something completely out of our control

because the Internet was down in the entire county, not just at my school. I love that we have a

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1:1 program and can use the Chromebooks for MAP and other standardized tests but the issue is

that Chromebooks cannot be used if there is no Internet available.

As stated in the book, error is reducible. If there is proper training and knowledge where

it is needed. For example, this is why we are doing our internships in the school. With proper

knowledge, training, and etiquette there will be less mistakes made with technology. Our job is to

prepare ourselves to be able to teach our staff members how to responsibly incorporate and use

technology effectively in their classrooms. With the proper use of technology, the use of it in

classrooms can be really fun and engaging for the students.

Postman also states that error is mostly conversational. I have been trying to think for

days now about how I could relate this to Chromebooks and the technology being used in our

schools. I will say that a lot of things are lost in transition and this is definitely evident in my

school. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me questions about something

relating to Google Classroom or another Google app that starts with Well, teacher A said that I

can do it this way but teacher B said I should do it this way and then they said I should

Technology and how it can be properly used is very easily lost in conversation. This is especially

true when it comes to people who think they understand what they are trying to do, but then mess


I feel as though throughout this paper I have been bashing technology more than praising

it. I am a very strong believer of the use of technology in school, especially during this digital

age that our students are growing up in. To refer back to Postman, technology is the perfect

example of a fallen angel because it can and will fail and that is okay. It is only okay because we

cannot become totally reliant on technology. It is also important for us to remember that kids are

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also a great example of fallen angel and when we throw technology at them there is a chance that

even more mistakes would be made than usual. Technology is changing the face of education but

it is not always going to be an easy road to get there.

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Postman, Neil. (1995). The end of education: Redefining the value of school. New York: Alfred

A. Knopf.

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