Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 32 seconds

You ask a question with no easy answer, Maha. It goes to the issue of schooling. As Ivan Illich, John Taylor Gatto, Neil Postman, Paulo Freire and many others have pointed out, public schooling in most places is about teaching students to comply to the kind of discipline, acceptance of hierarchy, passive absorption of what they are told — the kind of qualities that were useful when agricultural societies were in transition to industrial, assembly-line societies. I’m often accused of being an optimist for this, but I do believe we can improve the vitality, creativity, and usefulness of online media for both individuals and the public sphere by increasing the number of people who know how to distinguish good from bad information, who understand the payoff in participation, who can learn actively and co-learn with peers. So in that regard, my answer is yes, the attitudes of thinking for oneself, contributing to cooperative knowledge enterprises, questioning authority — all of which are politically risky in most of today’s public schools — are essential, along with teaching the skills.