A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

We don’t want our education

Marshall McLuhan (March 1957, age 45). Students learn more outside than inside the classroom

For your information, let me ask you a question.  Do you know why universities contain so much knowledge?  It’s because students enter knowing so much and leave knowing so little.  That however is not the problem with education today.  Knowing what you know that isn’t true is what universities do well.  What they do badly is: (1) Using the new media to teach and (2) Harnessing the student’s current enthusiasms and interests to teach.


Michael Hinton (2009, age 57).  Do students know what’s best

Given Marshall McLuhan’s views, a recent article “Concordia gets passing grades in Globe and Mail’s annual report card,” by Amy Minsky, in the November 3, 2009 issue of The Concordian, a student newspaper at Montreal’s Concordia University provokes some thoughts.   According to Ms Minsky the most important finding of the Globe and Mail’s report card was that Concordia University, the university she attends, “earned a C+) as far the 700 Concordia students who were surveyed on the question of “career preparation.” Apparently this was the same grade students at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto, St. George campus, assessed their schools.  And the highest grade for career preparation was given by students at the University of Waterloo, was an unexceptional B+.

The thoughts are: (1) Who is failing here, the universities or the students? (2) Given students come to university to learn rather than to teach, are their opinions the ones that should matter for the design of university programs?  (3) Given that surveys of business for many years have repeatedly shown that businesses want to hire recent graduates of university programs who can read, write, think analytically, solve problems, and get along with other people, all things a classic, impractical liberal arts education teaches, should universities offer less liberal arts and more project management, time management, and supply-chain management? (4) Given students are so very interested in practical, career preparation why are universities so poor at persuading students that the best career preparation is a liberal arts education?

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Reading for this post

McLuhan, Marshall.  “Classroom without Walls,” in Explorations, no.7, March 1957, reprinted in Explorations in Communication, Edited by Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan. Boston: Beacon Press, 1960. pp. 1-3.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, November 14th, 2009
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Culture, Education, Vol. 1 2 Comments

2 Comments to We don’t want our education

  • mcluhan prophecy says:

    I made an answer… but really it’s not worth it.
    I think McL mostly thought at best University might be a time to read and think. Everything else about itwas probably not to his liking especially their treatment of him before and after his death.
    Isn’t the WWW the new university and it grants degrees every day.

  • michael says:

    I agree that the www is the modern classroom. However there are no degrees.

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