March 3, 2003 20:36 | Culture

(D)Evolution of language?

Teachers call for urgent action as pupils write essays in text-speak

Mark Federman s3z:

McLuhan tells us that the message of instantaneous, multiway communications is the reversal of our literate culture back to an oral culture. This means that our thinking - collectively and individually - is being restructured. The effects of this will touch not only essay writing, but also science, philosophy, politics and pedagogy in general.

This was something we chatted about when I visited the McLuhan Program last fall. It struck me afterwards, as I left the tiny former coach house which servs as the Program's locale, as ironic that such a small space with such limited resources was dealing with issues so large that will inevitably touch and profoundly change everything being studied on the entire University of Toronto campus (which is immense), and of course everyone/everything else.

In the above-linked post, Mr. Federman also speaks of teachers: how they are calling for an all-out ban on "texting" and how they are feeling their own obsolescence. Obsolescence is the fate of those unable to adapt, evolve, weather change. The education system can do what it wants but it cannot halt massive and rapid cultural and social change.

An interesting side-effect of this case in particular is that, like it or not, teachers will once again have to be students themselves, equalising the playing field in some respects. And isn't that they way it should be? Isn't it already, just not in a formalised, structured way?