Digital Teens

23Jun14

Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School

Marshall McLuhan CSS

This article purports to be about teenagers after Marshall McLuhan died, which was in 1980. More accurately, it focuses on Canadian students attending a Toronto Catholic high school named after Marshall McLuhan that exists in an affluent middle class neighborhood in one of the most multicultural large cities in North America. Although some non-Catholics are admitted under certain conditions, the faith-based approach to education, mandatory school uniforms and curriculum informed by Catholic religious and social beliefs, is only partially representative of teenagers today.

The Teenager, After McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan—whose Understanding Media turns 50 this year—described how media shaped the evolution of the teenager. What about teenagers these days?

On Marshall’s website, the administration declares its intention to train students to follow the example of the school’s namesake—to be vessels of revelation. “As Marshall McLuhan did, we strive to embody the highest goals of the Catholic intellectual tradition using our faith to understand our search for oneness, goodness and truth.” Like McLuhan, the students of MSCSS will learn to look beyond the immediate present to see the deep patterns that will shape our future. “Our students’ voices will be prophetic ones in the 21st century.”

McLuhan saw the teenager of the 1960s as a new kind of person. Before television, McLuhan said, there was adolescence—a period in which young people waited on the outskirts of the adult world for their real lives to start. But teenagers were living their real lives already, and their experience was the embodiment of both humanity’s future and its past.

Back then, it seemed as if teenagers could change the course of history. New ideas about civil rights, sexual liberation, and non-traditional lifestyles were threatening to upend society. Part of their power was economic; young people in the 1960s could walk out of high school into well paying jobs, or, should they choose, get a relatively cheap university education. But Marshall believed the change in communications technologies was leading to a generation of retribalized, collectivized, globalized citizens. In 1969, he told Playboy, “Our teenage generation is already becoming part of a jungle clan” … 

Some contemporary commentators have interpreted his remarks to predict an increasingly segmented, fragmented society made up of tiny factions which alternately war with or ignore each other. But others (the administration of Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School seemingly among them) saw McLuhan’s idea of a “tribal” global culture as an expression of the unity—the oneness—of humanity. If print had created the individual—people immersed themselves, alone, in books—television was breaking down the individual and rejoining humanity into one pulsating mass of awareness. Teenagers would inherit a collective inner world shaped by global factors. Everyone would be connected. Read the rest of the article at http://tinyurl.com/mr95s8f .

The homepage of Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School is http://tinyurl.com/mm5u86l 

Marshall McLuhan Logo

Some articles about the Digital or Net generation:-

The Net Generation Goes to College – http://tinyurl.com/ll3b8zw

Teens and Technology 2013 – http://tinyurl.com/pkdsqv3

Busting the myth of tech-savvy youth – http://tinyurl.com/l7qbwc5

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