Marshall McLuhan Jobs OR Roles


The youth of today are not permitted to approach
the traditional heritage of mankind through the door
of technological awareness. This only possible door
for them is slammed in their faces by a rear-view-
mirror society.

The young today live mythically and in depth. But
they encounter instruction in situations organized
by means of classified information—subjects are
unrelated, they are visually conceived in terms of
a blueprint. Many of our institutions suppress all
the natural direct experience of youth, who respond
with untaught delight to the poetry and the beauty
of the new technological environment, the environ-
ment of popular culture. It could be their door to
all past achievement if studied as an active (and
not necessarily benign) force.

The student finds no means of involvement for
himself and cannot discover how the educational
scheme relates to his mythic world of electronically
processed data and experience that his clear and
direct responses report.

It is a matter of the greatest urgency that our edu-
cational institutions realize that we now have civil
war among these environments created by media
other than the printed word. The classroom is now
in a vital struggle for survival with the immensely
persuasive "outside" world created by new informa-
tional media. Education must shift from instruction,
from imposing of stencils, to discovery —to probing
and exploration and to the recognition of the lan-
guage of forms.

The young today reject goals. They want roles—
R-O-L-E-S. That is, total involvement. They do not
want fragmented, specialized goals or jobs.

We now experience simultaneously the dropout
and the teach-in. The two forms are correlative.
They belong together. The teach-in represents an
attempt to shift education from instruction to dis-
covery, from brainwashing students to brainwash-
ing instructors. It is a big, dramatic reversal. Viet-
nam, as the content of the teach-in, is a very small
and perhaps misleading Red Herring. It really has
little to do with the teach-in, as such, anymore than
with the dropout.

The dropout represents a rejection of nineteenth-
century technology as manifested in our educa-
tional establishments. The teach-in represents a
creative effort, switching the educational process
from package to discovery. As the audience be-
comes a participant in the total electric drama,
the classroom can become a scene in which the
audience performs an enormous amount of work.