Any quotation dictionary that includes an entry for "education" provides ample testimony that education is more than schools. From Aristotle to Oscar Wilde come warnings that education is no substitute for experience. Indeed, for some critics of schooling, we learn that formal education is antithetical to learning. America's Schools and the Mass Media collectively explore the contents of mass media and how it shapes educational programming and policy-making. The editors claim that American schooling for the past forty years has less to do with a learning agenda and pedagogy than with economic competition and national security.
The editors and contributors to this important volume contend that American public schooling has historical roots as a crucible for democratic government. This ideal has not only grown increasingly suspect in recent years, but is now commonly assailed as a brake on both economic growth and intellectual excellence. The editors ask what minimum skills and knowledge one must possess in order to participate in the life of the nation, if not in the life of the mind. The essays by Gerald Grant, Bella Rosenberg, Charles T. Salmon, Joan Richardson, and Susan Tifft take direct aim at this issue, with surprising, but stimulating results.
The volume begins with Myron Lieberman's "law": to wit, the "more important an educational question, the less people know about it". The remainder of the contributions aim Jo begin removing this law with a more salutary understanding. The twelve essays that constitute the work deal with the interplay of educational and media institutions; what students learn and how they learn it—with a special emphasis on the long and questionable history of corporate, special interest and government attempts to shape the beliefs of future citizens and present consumers. The volume closes with a full scale effort to review the nation's educational priorities, and how questions of school choice are entwined with those of media choice.