Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/367

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361
SOCIAL PHASE OF AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION.

lieve the farm problem to be much more than a question of technique. They want light on the whole problem.

The college, chiefly through its socialized extension department, has a mission also to those professional people whose sphere of work is in the rural community. The rural educator, the country clergyman, the editor of the country paper, and even the lawyer and physician who deal with country people, should have a large share in helping to solve the farm problem. They, too, need to know what the rural problem is. They, too, need the eye that sees the necessary conditions of rural betterment and the heart that desires to help in rural progress. By some of the same methods that reach the farmers themselves can the college instruct and inspire these others.

And, finally, the college will take its place as the 'social organ or agency of first importance in helping to solve the farm problem in all its phases.' The church, the school, the farmers' organization—all these social organs have their work to do. None can do the work of the others. But they should work together. Each should appreciate its own mission and its own limitations; each should recognize the function of the others, and all should intelligently unite their forces in a grand campaign for rural betterment. More properly than perhaps any other agency the socialized extension department of the agricultural college can act as mediator and unifier, serve as the clearinghouse and directing spirit in a genuine federation of rural social forces. Inspired by the conscious purpose of the college to help at all points in the solution of the farm question, informed by the knowledge acquired through research into the economic and social problems of agriculture, aided by a multitude of educated farmers trained in the colleges to know the rural problem and to lend a hand in its settlement, dignified by its status as a coordinate branch of the college activities, the extension department may well act as the chief agency of stimulation and unification in the social movements for rural advancement.

In this discussion the practical details of carrying out the program advocated have not been touched upon. When once it becomes a distinct policy of the college to assume leadership in the movement for rural betterment, such questions as subject-matter for study, text-books, qualified instructors and time in the curriculum will settle themselves. Neither has any attempt been made to give illustrations; and, therefore, this paper may seem dogmatic if not academic, a prophecy rather than an outline of progress, the statement of an idea rather than a practicable program. But I think there is abundant evidence that a current is setting in toward the enlargement of the work of the agricultural college, along the social lines indicated. The rapid development of farmers' institutes, the growth of other phases of extension teaching, the sentiment of those in authority that the experiment station must