On the grounds that the two central distinguishing features of our age are the domination of institutional bureaucracy and technology, in particular the newer mass media, it is argued that the school should develop the crap-detecting element in the individual with particular reference to them. We must bring children up so that they question such things, asking what they are good for, rather than submit to their domination, so that they subvert anything that fosters 'chaos and uselessness' and so that they do not suffer from what Alvin Tofler has called 'future shock'. (Future shock is what you experience when you realise that, or feel that, 'the world you were educated to believe in doesn't exist'.)

A particular contrast is then drawn between their ideal of education and what is alleged to be current educational practice, by reference to McLuhan's thesis that the medium is the message, which Postman and Weingartner swallow with considerable gusto and no reservations. That is perhaps a pity, since McLuhan's thesis is a typical example of the type of overstatement that currently excites attention and sometimes passes for insight; it is plainly false when taken literally, and plainly true when toned down. Thus it is simply false to assert that the way in which one presents a message is all that one ever conveys, and it is probably false to suggest that one ever conveys only what is implicit in one's manner of delivery. On the other hand, it is fairly obviously the case that, in addition to what one is trying to get across, sometimes to the virtual extinction of it, the manner of presentation or 'the environment itself conveys the critical and dominant messages by controlling the perceptions and attitudes of those who participate in it'. In fact, this is the hidden curriculum theory under its latest name with an added refinement: it is suggested not only that one teaches something else besides what one overtly teaches by one's style of teaching, but also that how one presents the content overtly modifies it. So method and content cannot be divorced, and in the view of Postman and Weingartner 'the critical content of any learning experience is the method or process through which the learning occurs' (TSA p. 30).