Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/95

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By Professor JOSEPH K. HART


DEMOCRACY has been working for more than a century to understand its own genesis and genius; but not enough attention has been paid to the most central element in the development of the complete democracy of the future. We have talked too much about ideals, but not enough about methods of realizing our ideals. Fallacious methods prevent the attainment of the things we most desire.

It is felt by many, perhaps by most, that self-government demands particularly strenuous processes of education in the development of the young. This is an ideal: but it has not been felt by many that a democratic social order must see to it that the public education institutions shall be thoroughly democratic in all their parts—in methods, in processes, in atmosphere, in actual results, as well as in ideals; and that this democratizing of our educational institutions is the most fundamental problem of democracy.

One type of American teacher has distinctly taken the attitude that the public schools must be absolute monarchies, with the head teacher as monarch and all other members of the school as his subjects, vassals and slaves, in order that these ideals might be compelled in all of them. A great American teacher has said that the school is the modern representative of the old Roman Empire with its arbitrary demands that the barbarians shall yield to the civilizing influences of education.

But, as stated above, it would seem that if education in a democracy is to be for democracy it must be democratic in every respect. The school, claiming to be the intellectual institution of the community, should be able to recognize the logic of such a statement and accept it.

This should certainly be true in the case of the university of a state, at least. Usually a university claims to be the center of intelligence of the state. But, if it is to be recognized as the center of intelligence in the democracy, it should be willing to take the most intelligently democratic point of view that is attainable.

Under a completely democratic conception of education what will be the nature of the organization of a state university? Such an institution attempts to bring together two rather inharmonious ideals or points of view, and usually one-or the other of these ideals secures an