Since the 16th century, the ideal of education has been the tutorial system pioneered at Oxford and Cambridge, nurturing young minds one to one, inquiring, prodding and encouraging. The tutorial method, research shows, is a proven winner, The New York Times reports. But it is also highly elitist, hardly a system for educating the masses. So the drive for public education, in America and elsewhere, required a very different model -- of one to many, with the teacher standing in front of a classroom, working from a textbook and lecturing. Education moved from a bespoke craft to a more industrial...

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