Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/13

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UNIVERSITY EXTENSION.

just what is being done in England, and what is being done and planned in America. It is well to begin with England, as being the older and better organized field. For my knowledge of the work there I am indebted to the conversations of friends who have attended the Oxford meetings, and to various reports and pamphlets, but most of all to an admirable little book on University Extension by Messrs. Mackinder and Sadler, which I would strongly commend to those who care to go further into the details and history of the English movement.

The work in England is divided among four organizations: the London Society for the Extension of University Teaching, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and Victoria University. While there may be some friendly rivalry as to which shall most abound in good works, it must not be thought that the organizations are in competition with one another. This would indeed be impossible in the case of the London Society, since its staff of lecturers includes those of both Cambridge and Oxford as well. The chief business of these central offices is to provide lecturers and to arrange courses. It must be constantly kept in mind that they are essentially teaching organizations and by no means mere lecture bureaus. It is true that university extension does not disdain to present knowledge in an attractive form. It makes an admitted effort to be entertaining. But this is only a means to an end. The main object is more serious, and consequently no course is ever given on miscellaneous topics. The unit consists of twelve weekly lectures on one approved subject. Such a course, therefore, covers three months and constitutes one term in the extension work. There are two a year, the fall and spring terms, separated by the Christmas holidays. Now that the movement is well established, a strong effort is being made to bring the studies into close educational sequence, and to have the work of succeeding terms continue what has been done previously. This is not always possible, for university extension studies are strictly elective and are never administered in prescribed amounts. But it represents the ideal and the more intelligent students clearly see the advantage of continuous and related work in place of indiscriminate browsing.

The central offices do not, however, assume the initiative. They are the agents and inspirers of the local centers. The movement generally starts in any given neighborhood by the interest and effort of one individual, or perhaps by the concerted action of several. The known friends of education in the locality are called upon, and the question of forming a center discussed. If the scheme seems feasible, a public meeting is arranged, great care being taken that it shall have no religious, political, or class