The Disappearance of Adulthood

Author: Quill, Lawrence

Source: Studies in Philosophy and Education, Volume 30, Number 4, July 2011 , pp. 327-341(15)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

In 1982, Neil Postman wrote The Disappearance of Childhood. In that work, Postman recounted the invention of childhood in the modern world and its demise at the hands of, among other things, the electronic media (principally television). In Postman’s view, television had transformed education into ‘edutainment.’ The implications of this loss were devastating. Taking up where Postman left off I wish to reexamine his claim and amend and update his thesis by suggesting that, after the latest electronic turn, we now live in societies where a meaningful conception of adulthood is disappearing. It is disappearing, in part, because of an impoverished conception of citizenship. Yet it is additionally undermined because, claims to the ascendancy of the ‘knowledge worker’ notwithstanding, the fundamental connection between education and employment is unraveling. In this climate, the purposes of education are constantly queried and scrutinized as its telos is redefined by criteria external to the practice of education: cost-effectiveness, value-for-money, and so on. I suggest that only be reclaiming a meaningful conception of adulthood can education be defended and only by so doing can individuals hope to understand the world around them.

Keywords: Adulthood; Childhood; Knowledge worker; Postman; Universities

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11217-011-9231-1

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, 95192, USA, Email: lawrence.quill@sjsu.edu

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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