Again, we may have had no alternative in the 19th century. But now many alternatives are appearing:

* The approach followed by the Khan Academy, where students view lectures on video at home, then do “homework” in the classroom where teachers are available to help.

* Online schools, where kids learn at their own pace, and have time to work jobs or internships during the day — that’s what my daughter did, and she learned a lot from her time in the workplace.

* Homeschooling, which is increasingly popular and — as any National Spelling Bee fan knows — often quite successful.

* And a variety of other approaches being experimented with by what Anya Kamenetz, in her book “DIY U,” calls the “edupunks”: So-called “unschooling,” where students learn via life experience, or the substitution of performance-based credentials or portfolios for diplomas based largely on time spent in class.