Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

October 26, 2015

The Challenges of Technology

Last week, I received my copy of the “Journal of Catholic Education” and prepared to set it on the shelf alongside the other unopened journals. The title of the first article, however, caught my attention. “Depth in an Age of Digital Distraction: The Value of a Catholic College in Today’s World” seemed to speak to our current environment.

Conor Kelly speaks of the Catholic college commitment to “formation for ‘the good life’ that has long been a hallmark of a Catholic and liberal arts education” and speaks of it as “under siege from the ubiquitous temptations of technological diversion.” (114)

Kelly outlines the flaws of the digital age as maximalism, superficiality, and isolation. He then offers solitude, sacramentalism, and communion as the Catholic antidotes to these flaws.

Maximalism is the belief in the “hyper-connected life” and the susceptibility to constant interruptions. Kelly captures this well when he states that “most millennials seem to internalize digital maximalism in high school where the practice of updating social networking sites at a moment’s notice primes them to share a thought before they have fully processed what it means to them.” (116) Kelly calls for Catholic schools to emphasize solitude and prayer in order to promote the examined life and a search for meaning. “This tactic represents a direct response to digital maximalism’s inadequate assertion that real significance can come only from without.” (124)

Superficiality is fueled by multitasking and constant distraction “not just at the expense of self-reflection, but also to the detriment of engagement beyond the self.” (117) The emphasis on sacramentality is based on the idea that God can be found in the world. “With students thus primed to seek depth in ordinary interactions, they might be strengthened to resist the urge to fill every free moment with a digitally mediated interaction, and they might, instead, look beyond their screens into the wonders of the world around them.” (125)

The isolation of the digital age is twofold: individuals establish their own social networks (meaning they have networked individualism) and distant relationships tend to take priority over face-to-face interactions. By emphasizing the “gift of self” and the relational orientation of the human person, the Catholic school can combat the isolating effects of the digital age. (131)

The challenge is significant and we need to recognize that our Catholic schools can help our students combat the deleterious effects of the digital age and speak to the development of the whole person. This is not only the parents’ responsibilities. If we’re going to use technology at schools, we need to teach students how to use technology AND how to live the good life.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Mon: office (Helena) & GFCC Adv Council (Great Falls)

Tues: St. Mary's WCEA Accreditation preparation (Livingston)

Wed: Holy Spirit WCEA Accreditation visit (Great Falls)

Thurs: St. Labre Board meeting (Billings)

Fri: office (Helena)

Sat: Halloween

Sun: Fly to Oakland for WCEA Accreditation team

This week: 1,039 driving miles; 1,434 air miles

Last week: 1,045 driving miles

2015-16: 7,363 driving miles; 2,346 air miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. Regional principal meetings are coming up from 10-2: Kalispell Nov 10th, Great Falls Nov 12th, and Bilings Nov 18th
  2. November administrative tasks: OPI Accreditation (high schools), immunization report, update registration materials, project enrollment for 16-17, continue staff observations and emergency drills
  3. Respect Life month resources:

American Catholic News

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


The Boy Crisis: A Sobering look at the State of our Boys | Warren Farrell Ph.D. | TEDxMarin