Deep within our cultural history is a faith in the power of technology to cure social problems, Truthdig reports. Many of our Utopian visions—from nineteenth century socialist tracts and novels to Silicon Valley’s libertarian futurism—are based on technology.

That faith is vibrant today, at times idealistic, at times entrepreneurial, often a blend of the two. Neuroscience will lead to the cure of mental illness and reveal the mystery of consciousness itself. Social media will bring us together across regional and national divides, and the cell phone or tablet computer will provide the platform to lift people in developing countries out of poverty.

And, closer to the concerns of this book, online instruction will reduce the cost and improve the quality of education, and high-stakes standardized tests will scientifically measure student learning and teacher effectiveness.

Modern technology, of course, is stunning, and can and should be brought to bear on our social problems, education included. … The limitations—and, in some cases I think, dangers—of this faith in technology are contained within its strengths.

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