CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Medium is the Message

English Language Arts
1 to 2 lessons
To examine the meaning of McLuhan’s most famous aphorism “the medium is the message” and explore his concept of “re-tribalizing”
Students will prepare an oral presentation illustrating McLuhan's concepts of "the medium is the message" and of “re-tribalizing."

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Write the phrase "the medium is the message" on the board. Ask students what they think it might mean, and elicit other comments and feedback from students regarding this phrase.

Now, write the word "tribe" on the board and generate a word web with the students. Ask the students if the word applies to them or their lives at all.

Explain to the students that they are going to hear about these two concepts from their source, Marshall McLuhan.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students, in groups of two or three, to the topic Marshall McLuhan, the Man and His Message on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students should view and then summarize the main ideas in the clips titled "World is a global village" and "McLuhan predicts 'world connectivity'".

Have each group present its findings to the class. From the group research, create a class summary of the ideas in the two clips.

Revisit and Reflect

Divide the class into groups of four or five. Assign each group one form of mass media from the following list: newspaper, internet, television, music radio, news and talk radio.

Write the following questions on the board:

What is the "message" of this medium (not its content)

How, if at all, has this form of media contributed to the "re-tribalization" of our society? Of the world?

Have students examine the two questions in relation to their assigned form of mass media, then prepare an oral presentation to share their ideas and findings with the class. Students can use the class-generated notes for reference.



Students can write a reflective essay discussing the concept of the "individual" in modern society. Is there any such thing in the media age? Why or why not?

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