Media literacy teacher Jim Pine

Vic High students embrace digital hiatus

Media literacy class quits smartphones to stimulate discussion on relationship with technology

It’s no epiphany that holding the attention of 25 teenagers can be harrowing at the best of times.

In today’s high schools, smartphones have exacerbated waning concentration, allowing students to play hooky without ever leaving the classroom.

Teachers walk a fine line between alienating students through an outright ban on digital devices or accepting the inevitable confused stares from half the class when asking for feedback.

While most teachers police cellphone use to maintain some sense of control, Vic High instructor Jim Pine prefers to point his media literacy class in the direction of infamous Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan.

“McLuhan said, ‘Don’t ask if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but ask what’s going on,'” Pine said. “First we shape our tools, and then they shape us.”

To get the class thinking about their relationship to and reliance on technology, Pine challenged them to go 24 hours without using any digital or electronic devices. Cellphones, laptops, iPods, TV and even radio were off limits from the beginning of one class until the next.

“Going into it, I thought it was going to be fairly difficult, but when I started doing it, I found it really easy to disconnect,” said Grade 12 student Tejana Howes.

Knowing the inevitable ban was looming, Howes and her friends organized horseback riding and other outdoor activities to keep the digital temptation at bay.

“I was fine until the next  morning, when I noticed it’s really integrated into my routine,” said Lancy Fynn, also in Grade 12. “Every morning I get up, I get ready, and then I go on Youtube, check my email and look at the news before going to school. I just felt a huge void.”

Howes and Fynn agreed the biggest inconvenience in going offline was the necessity to make plans in advance and the inability to easily change those plans.

Howes said she also missed the convenience of Google Maps and other apps.

“Not knowing when my bus was going to come was pretty stressful,” she said.

The overall goal of media literacy class, Pine said, is to engage critical thinking and push students to delve more deeply into why some stories are written.

“All commercial media have commercial implications, and most media exist because they’re pitching a product,” he said.

“What I suggest is you need as wide a range of viewpoints as possible, from left to right. I want my students to distinguish between what’s being sold and what their truth is.”

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

North Cowichan will host new permanent rowing centre starting October 2020

Saanich’s bid for national rowing centre at Elk Lake sunk

Firefighters save two dogs in Oak Bay house fire

Home saved, but damages could hit $100k

Sooke lottery winner has come forward

The $1 million ticket was sold in Sooke for Lotto 6/49

Saanich entrepreneurs face off against the Dragons on television

Dragons Den segment featuring Endur Apparel business partners airs Jan. 24

BC Transit unveiling real time bus tracking and stop notifications in Victoria

New display system will allow customers to see and hear upcoming bus stop information

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

B.C.-based mining company worker abducted in Burkina Faso

Government officials in that West African nation say Canadian was kidnapped by suspected extremists

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Tom Lavin and the Powder Blues Band among acts to perform at Comox Valley’s Winterfest

Participating hotels offering half-price “ski & stay” packages

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Vancouver Island soccer player a first-round major-league draft pick

Callum Montgomery goes fourth overall to FC Dallas in MLS SuperDraft

Most Read