Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/November 1891/University Extension
ONE can scarcely fail to notice, in the intellectual life of America, how very rapidly a new thought sweeps across the continent. It travels with almost the speed of the whirlwind. The storm center is commonly Boston or New York or Philadelphia, and progress is toward the westward. At once the impulse is felt in Chicago and Denver and San Francisco. A new book, a new creed, or a new social ideal easily gains the popular ear. Like the Epicureans and Stoics, we delight to hear a new thing. It can not be said that this interest is always, or even generally, a profound or fruitful one. But it has at least this advantage, that it secures a speedy hearing for such ideas as are put in a form suitable for assimilation, and this alone is no inconsiderable gain. The educational movement known as university extension is an admirable illustration of this national alertness and versatility. It is a movement capable of very definite presentation and of calling up equally definite mental images. As a result, it is now familiar in name at least to the majority of our people, and it has become so in a surprisingly short space of time. Returned travelers from England have whispered the name in private for several years past. Certain phases of the movement, such as the Toynbee Hall experiment of planting a colony of culture-loving men in the arid district of London, have for some time attracted attention on both sides of the water. But, as a distinct object of public interest and discussion in America, university extension is hardly two years old. It was not until the winter and spring of 1890 that the movement took rank as a question of the day. Outside of the larger and more interested cities, and possibly even within their borders, it may still be that the name of the movement is more familiar than the idea for which, it stands. It is the purpose, then, of the present article to state briefly—as becomes the importance of the subject—just what university extension is, somewhat of its history, and what claim it has for a permanent place in our intellectual life.
University extension has been well defined as a university education for the whole nation by an itinerant system connected with established institutions.
I confess that this sounds ideal, the proposition to educate the whole nation on higher lines, but that is precisely what the movement means. It means that any one in any place and at any time may take up advanced work in any department of human knowledge, and that qualified men stand ready and willing to help him. I feel that this is a most significant statement—so significant. Indeed, that I may be pardoned for having said the same thing twice.
Our people as a whole are not intellectual and are not culture-loving. They are not given to what Emerson calls the reasonable service of thought. The majority of them are the servants of a much less noble master. It can not be expected, therefore, that so large an idea as forms the germ of university extension will meet with anything like immediate fruition. But it is a leaven which is well worth setting to work. The success of the movement is already well enough assured to demonstrate that in any community there are unsuspected numbers with a turn for higher education, and such an attitude of mind is apt to spread.
That is the end—to permeate the nation, the whole American people, with a taste for culture, and then to provide means for satisfying it. It is admitted that such a taste does not generally exist, but it is believed that it can be brought into being. No right-minded person, I think, will quarrel with this purpose, provided it can be shown that the proposed culture is genuine and not merely a veneer. The method, too, is correspondingly simple, and it seems to me quite adequate. It would be an impossible task to civilize all America at once. The Philistine element is much too strong for that. If the movement attempted such a task it might well be regarded as overly optimistic. But it is really as practical in its methods as a paper-box factory. It is going to attempt no regeneration in the lump, nor to force its wares where they are not wanted. What it is doing and going to do is simply this, to put the higher education within reach of those who care for it, and through these to stimulate others also to want the same thing. It might be well described as a missionary movement conducted on scientific principles.
Unharnessed to events, the scheme would read somewhat like a dream. It will be better, then, to give an account of it by telling 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 coloring. A speaker goes to them from one of the universities and explains the extension plan. If the impression produced be favorable and the question of ways and means do not hinder, the meeting results in the formation of a local center, and a permanent secretary and a board of managers are appointed. A subject is then chosen, and application made to one of the central offices for a lecturer. In many cases a particular lecturer is asked for, as the extension men are coming to have pretty widely known reputations, and the public naturally selects the most popular. The question of finance now comes in. The universities supply qualified lecturers, arrange courses, and hold examinations, but the expenses must be guaranteed by the local centers. The work does not pay for itself, but then no scheme for higher education ever does. The receipts from the sale of lecture tickets may generally be counted upon to meet half the expenses of the course. The rest must be provided for in some other way, commonly by subscriptions or by some larger benefaction. The university fee for the twelve lectures is about £45, and the local expenses will generally amount to about £20 more. This is for a single course. Where more than one course is taken, the proportionate expense is somewhat less.
In most cases the local center is an outgrowth from some library association or institute, and has already much of the needed machinery in the way of hall and books. The course is duly advertised and as strong a local interest enlisted as possible. The audience is made up of all classes, the more miscellaneous the better. The extension movement recognizes no class distinctions. It includes the gentry, mechanics, school-teachers, barristers, tradesmen—all, indeed, who will come. The work differs from that of the school, as it is primarily for the education of adults, and its methods have men and women in mind as the material.
And now the lecture begins. It lasts for about an hour, the lecturer endeavoring not so much to present the whole of the subject-matter of the evening as to give a distinct and helpful point of view from which his hearers may look at it for themselves. It seems to me that this is a most hopeful feature of the extension work, and one which brings it into direct line with the best of modern educational practice. It is the spirit of the new education to proceed always by appealing to the self-activity of the taught rather than simply to their capacity for receiving.
If the lecturer be skillful, the hour seems very short, for the feeling is abroad that here is a man thinking out loud and suggesting a whole lot of new thoughts which will make one distinctly the richer. It is a pleasant sensation, recalling the very cream of bygone school days, and it shows itself in rows of flushed and grateful faces. An essential part of the lecture scheme is the printed syllabus, which is supplied at merely nominal price. This gives the systematic outline so needful to the student, yet so uninspiring in the lecture itself. In addition, the syllabus suggests a careful line of home reading in connection with each lecture. The lecturer also gives out one or more questions which are to be answered in writing and mailed to him some time before the next lecture. This home paper work is regarded as of the utmost importance, since it brings out the thought and originality of the student in a way that a simple lecture never could.
When the lecture is over, a class is formed of all those who care to enroll themselves as students, the other hearers withdrawing. The class lasts for about an hour, and also ranks above the lecture in educational importance. It is here that the personal intercourse between lecturer and students comes into play. It is, indeed, very much like the college seminar, and is as conversational in its tone as the bashfulness of the students will allow. The lecturer develops his points a little further, and explains any difficulties that may have arisen. He also uses the occasion to return the written exercises, and makes such criticisms and comments as he thinks best. Often, misapprehensions are to be corrected, and false views pointed out. Frequently there is the more agreeable task of reading some particularly good answer, and acknowledging the justness and perhaps the originality of a student's comment. In all cases no names are mentioned, and great care is taken not to wound the sensitiveness of any one. The sharper tools of irony and satire are always contraband.
One can readily see how much depends upon the personal qualities of the lecturer. He must, indeed, be a man out of a hundred, a well-qualified specialist, a brilliant speaker, and, above all, a man of much fine tact and discretion. Each organization has its regular staff of lecturers, who hold, in most cases, some other appointment, and give only a portion of their time to extension work. A few, such as Mr. R G. Moulton, of Cambridge, and Rev. W. Hudson Shaw, of Oxford, devote themselves exclusively to the movement, and are its most successful exponents. But many promising young men have also been attracted to extension work—some through a genuine missionary interest in the spread of culture, and some for less disinterested motives. It is not, however, a proper field for experimentation. The work is difficult and needs men of known ability. The universities try to guard against failure by duly testing the capabilities of all young aspirants for lecture appointments. While it is most unfortunate when the wrong man does get into the work, the mischief is soon remedied, for his lack of success leaves him in a very short time quite without engagements. In the lecture world there is a manifest survival of the fittest.
When the course ends there is a formal examination, open to all students who have attended a specified proportion of lectures and done the requisite home work. Certificates are awarded to the successful candidates, the results depending upon the term work as well as the examination. I have not myself much faith in academic labels, but these certificates have a certain value in stimulating the students to carry their work to completion.
Where university extension is still untried, half courses, of six lectures each, are sometimes given by way of experiment, but in this case no examinations are held and no certificates are awarded.
The statistics of the movement show that it is still increasing in popularity. All of the numerals which sum up its activity, attendance, lecturers, courses, have much more than doubled within the past five years. The figures of 1889-'90 show that nearly four hundred courses were given, and that these were attended by over forty thousand people. During the winter of 1890-'91 the attendance was over forty-five thousand. It is estimated that about ten per cent take the examinations. A number of new and interesting developments have attended this growth. Besides the regular fall and spring terms there are also summer meetings at both Oxford and Cambridge, which have been a most pronounced success. One can scarcely overestimate the advantage of even this brief residence at the universities themselves. It is no inconsiderable education simply to be in Oxford. The tastes which are thus encouraged make possible better things in the winter courses following. The Cambridge summer meeting is, on the whole, more scientific in its scope, and the numbers in attendance are consequently small, but are increasing as the opportunity becomes better known.
At Oxford the meetings have always been of a more popular character. The students are numbered by hundreds and even of late years by the thousand. The meetings only began in 1888, when the session lasted for but ten days. Yet there were nine hundred students present. Since then the sessions have lengthened and the attendance has likewise grown. For obvious reasons the students are largely drawn from the teaching class, the greater number being women. The opportunity of hearing such men as Max Müller brings even an increasing company of Americans to these summer meetings.
While the expense is kept as small as possible, the question of ways and means is too much for many of the poorer extension students, and scholarships are being founded to enable these to taste Oxford for at least a few weeks.
There are many other features of the English work, such as students' associations, home reading circles, traveling libraries, and the like, which are doing much to extend its influence and render the movement permanent. One of these features, the scheme of affiliating students to the universities, deserves special mention. What the universities have been working for all along is the promotion of serious and continued study. Where this was out of the question, they did what they could, and tried to stimulate the neighborhood to something better. The work has now progressed far enough for them to offer a systematic course of study covering four years, and having a definite end in view. The students who take eight unit courses in related subjects approved by the management, and who do the home work and pass the examinations successfully, receive the title of S. A.—affiliated student—and have the privilege at any subsequent time of remitting one year's residence at Cambridge, and so completing their studies there in two years. In the majority of cases two years would be quite as prohibitory as three, since the students are no longer young, and are already pledged to some career in life. Yet affiliation is held to be a great good, for it brings system and continuity into extension work, and makes a closer and more vital bond between the universities and the people.
If we come now across the ocean to our own country we shall find, considering the newness of the movement here, a development of the university extension idea even more surprising than in England. It is a large tribute to the catholicity of this idea that it stands transplanting so admirably. The needs of the human spirit are much the same in all countries. What is deepest in us and best is essentially cosmopolitan. The extension scheme is distinctively English in its origin, yet it has needed surprisingly little adaptation to fit it to American conditions. Perhaps the chief differences in condition are geographical. Life is more concentrated in England than with us, and the main changes will have to be in deference to our magnificent distances.
In certain quarters the importation of a British idea is resented almost as warmly as if the article were a steel rail or a durable cloth. In others, again, it is said that we have had university extension in America for many years, and we are pointed to the lyceums of New England and to Chautauqua. These institutions have undoubtedly done admirable work, but they are not university extension, and it is no discredit to them to say so. I have no particular desire to represent the movement as unique. It would be seriously misrepresented, however, if the impression were allowed to become current that university extension is simply a duplication of educational machinery already in successful operation. It is not. It is a movement with a new end, the popularization of higher university education, and it proceeds by a new method, the personal carrying of this teaching from the universities to the people. It is held to be more practical to take one man to a hundred students than to take a hundred students to one man. It is important to keep this object and this method free from any confusion with other organized work, for the usefulness of university extension lies in these lines, and not as a competitor with already established agencies of culture.
It is somewhat difficult to tell the story of university extension in America, for the idea sprang into action in a number of different localities. Without attempting to present the full history of the movement, it may be said that three distinct ideals have been advanced—the local plan, represented by Baltimore and Buffalo; the State plan, represented by New York; and the national plan, represented by Philadelphia.
The local plan is the oldest. Its first home seems to have been at Johns Hopkins University. Several years ago popular lecture courses were given by Dr. Adams and his colleagues at various centers in and around Baltimore, and as time went on the movement assumed more and more the form, and finally the name, of university extension. Several such courses were given during the winter and spring of 1888. The method was quite similar to that followed in England. The course consisted of twelve lectures, followed by the customary extension classes at their conclusion. The students were supplied with printed syllabi of each course. Dr. Adams also rendered a most important service to the movement by his interest in making it more generally known outside of his own city. Similar initiatory work was done by Dr. Bemis at Buffalo. In the fall of 1887 he gave a course of lectures on economics, which were quite in the extension spirit.
The State plan is, I believe, peculiar to New York. It would, indeed, be less possible elsewhere, since New York is the only State which has a department created and maintained by statute to "encourage and promote higher education." The movement has had the constant interest and support of the best element in both the city and State. The State Librarian, Mr. Melvil Dewey, has been particularly active in its promotion. According to this plan, the State assumes the direction of university extension, working by means of an established central office at Albany, and operating through existing institutions for higher education. The Legislature has recently granted an appropriation of ten thousand dollars for carrying on the enterprise. Already much good work has been done in the way of lecture courses and printed syllabi and text books.
The national plan has been a slower evolution. It is an out-growth of the local society at Philadelphia. The history of this organization is sufficiently typical to warrant its statement in some detail, the more so as its aims are now national. The idea of university extension was not known to the city at large until the winter and spring of 1890. It aroused so much interest, however, that the public discussion of the question led to the formation of a society on the 1st of June. Dr. Pepper, the Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, became its first president, and Mr. George Henderson was chosen secretary. The society at once went to work in a most practical and business-like way. It was recognized that two things were wanted—more definite information in regard to what was being done in England, and also the interest and co-operation of educators connected with neighboring teaching bodies. Accordingly, the secretary was sent to Europe, and in the fall presented a report of what had been accomplished there. Further, a circular letter addressed to the available teachers of the locality assured the society of a sufficient staff of lecturers. These ends gained, the work of the society began last fall in earnest. The first local center was at Roxborough and was organized in connection with St. Timothy's Working-men's Club and Institute, which was already provided with an excellent hall and well-selected library. The subject chosen was chemistry, the first lecture being given on November 3d. The formation of centers and the announcement of courses soon became epidemic. By spring it was a rare thing to find any one among the more thoughtful classes who had not attended at least one extension lecture.
In the one season forty-two courses were given, numbering about two hundred and fifty lectures. The total attendance was about 55,500, a result unparalleled even in England.
Numbers alone are a very bad standard for an educational movement, but figures such as these indicate at least a wealth of teachable material. The success has indeed been beyond the most sanguine expectation. The idea is, I believe, due to Dr. Pepper that so vast a movement as this should properly be a national interest, and without local bounds. In December, therefore, the society changed both its name and its purpose, and became the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching.
The work in England, it will be remembered, is divided among four organizations, and there are advocates of this separation as well as of unification. Here in America the movement is just beginning, and we are called upon to choose. It must not be understood that the three plans mentioned are in any way antagonistic or are meant to compete with one another. They are the natural products of the different conditions under which they have grown up. The only question is as to which plan will best serve the cause of culture. There is much to be said for all of these ideals, but it seems to me that the balance is indisputably in favor of the national plan. Already the American Society has extended its operations outward from Philadelphia as a center for upward of one hundred and fifty miles, and its purpose is to reach from ocean to ocean. A large step toward nationalization has been taken in the West. The extension work in Colorado, centering about the University of Denver, and perhaps the immense work planned for Chicago, will become branches of the American Society. It is also hoped that association may be brought about with the New York work. By bringing all these movements into one organization there will be greater administrative economy and greater system in the educational results.
What has been already accomplished by the National Society makes entirely reasonable the large plans which it has in mind for the future. The acting president of the organization is now Prof. E. J. James, who has associated with him educators of foremost rank from all sections of the country. It is proposed to utilize every feature which experience in England has shown to be helpful. The success of the American Society is indeed largely due to the fact that it has done little useless experimenting. The first season is always critical, but the movement had the large advantage of the constant service and counsel of Mr. Moulton. His many years' experience in the English work made him invaluable here. During nearly the entire season he lectured afternoon and evening in Philadelphia and its suburbs as well as in other American cities. He will be followed winter after next by the Rev. Hudson Shaw.
Now that university extension is well launched in America, it is hoped to offer more thoroughly systematized courses of study than was possible during the first season. A journal known as University Extension has been established, and issued its first number in July. Summer meetings will also be arranged, preferably at different university towns throughout the country. It is further proposed to introduce the plan of affiliating students to the universities, or even to go further than this, and finally to offer full courses leading to university degrees.
A most important and indeed an integral part of the work will be in the line of encouraging home study, and a well-thought-out plan has already been adopted. This provides a systematic course for that vast number of solitary students who can neither attend a university nor even form an extension center, but who are well worthy of the attention of a society committed to the cause of general culture. As at present arranged the courses cover four years of seven months each, or twenty-eight months of study in all, and are strictly along university lines. It is true that these students lose the large gain which comes from personal intercourse with the teacher, but they are in constant communication with him, and by his letters and printed notes he can be an immense help in the way of stimulating and directing. At the end of four years a regular examination will be held. Those who pass it successfully and whose progress during the course has been satisfactory will be awarded a certificate which it is the purpose of the society to make of recognized value.
It is, then, an almost realized dream that any one in any place whatsoever may have the advantage of university education. It is a mistaken idea altogether, and one that has robbed the race of much progress, that education ends when maturity begins. By that time one has only gathered a few of the materials of culture. A grown-up man or woman with a book in hand for the purpose of serious study is in too many American communities almost an anomaly. But we have now fallen, it is hoped, upon better days, and the education of men and women has become a national purpose.
When a rich man founds an institution, erects substantial buildings for its accommodation, and bestows his name upon it as well as his money, public attention is arrested, for there is something visible and tangible for comment to spend itself upon. But right here, in our very midst, there is growing up a university more vast, I am bound to believe, than any of these extensive benefactions, and one destined to make a more profound impression upon the intellectual life of America than has yet been made. It is a university whose strength lies in this, that its students are as miscellaneous as society itself; that it is bound to no creed, no class, no party, but is committed only to the service of truth—not truth as you or I see it, or as any particular body of men see it, but to that increasingly transparent vision of truth which comes to humanity as a whole. Nor is the purpose of this university defeated by distance and railroad fares. It is the guest of every man or woman who will make it welcome. Neither does it demand what so often can not be given, one's entire time. Its duties may be fulfilled at odd moments, at any time as well as at any place.
To carry out so vast a purpose as this is going to take a proportionate number of men. And to do it thoroughly, on the high plane which is promised, is going to take thoroughly equipped men. It is still an open question as to just how this need shall be supplied. All the lecturers so far, with the exception of Mr. Moulton and possibly one or two others, have been men holding positions in established institutions, and this has had its advantages. The men bring the experience and the disciplined spirit of the class-room with them and teach as well as lecture. And the effect upon the men is good too. The human element in them grows, and this without loss of scholarship. But so large an undertaking as this can not obviously take second place in the consideration of its agents. As time goes on, the staff of lecturers will probably include an increasing number of men who give their entire time to extension work.
It might be well if a man could alternate between resident and itinerant duty. Perhaps this would save him from that intellectual stagnation which is one of the chief dangers of the professorial chair. At present it seems to me that our universities are too much the asylum of men who nurse rather than use their scholarship, or who give their best energy to original research and throw only an occasional crumb to those who are pleasantly called their students. In all but the largest institutions one man has generally to teach several branches of his subject. If he did both university and extension work, he might devote himself to one particular branch and get better results in both fields. Prof. Johnson used to say that he wished there might be a professor for each chemical element, and he would like to be Professor of Iridium. But this is a matter which may safely be left to experience.
Besides the men, money is needed. So far, the work of the society has been paid for by the annual membership dues of five dollars, while each local center has met the expense of its own courses. The lecturer's fee is always fifteen dollars a lecture. This is paid to the central office by the local center, the lecturer having no direct business relations with the people to whom he goes. The incidental expenses of the course, varying with the locality, are met by the local management. Extension work may thus be undertaken by any university which will devote a little of the time of its secretary to the purpose, and by any local center which can raise the fee for a course of six lectures, ninety dollars, and provide for incidentals. It will thus be seen that very little money is required to make the experiment of an extension course. In some instances the local centers have had a considerable balance at the end of the season. But this has been due to the fact that only popular subjects have been chosen. It has been the experience in England, and it will undoubtedly be the experience here, that the more systematic and satisfactory work will not pay for itself. Some outside revenue must be looked to.
In England, several plans have been tried and proposed. In some cases a fixed subscription, as with the American Society, supplies the needed funds. In others, associations are formed and shares offered for sale, while still others depend upon private munificence. But all these resources are transient, and place the work much at the hazard of changing fortunes. A better financial basis is wanted. It has, therefore, been proposed to attempt to secure endowment, through personal benefactions, by the definite assignment of university funds, or through state aid.
Sooner or later the same problem must be met here in America. Sufficient funds have been forthcoming to start the movement and carry it through a highly successful season. That was the main thing. The good gained is now to be secured and extended. To do this it is very desirable that the revenues shall not be precarious. The present source of income, by subscriptions, will keep the movement alive, but it will not allow that more comprehensive policy which seems so desirable. Private endowment has already done something and will probably do more, as the opportunities for good become known.
The possibility of enlisting Government aid opens a larger question. University extension is a national movement which is intended to reach all classes and to promote the most vital interests of the nation. It has, then, as large a claim upon the national pocket-book as any interest which the Government can recognize. The States provide for primary and secondary education; the nation might well provide for the higher culture. It seems to me a possible and in many ways a highly desirable scheme that with the unification of university extension into one national society, and the division of the country into suitable districts, the work should assume a truly national character and should be brought into close relation with the Department of Education at Washington. The commissioner might have his representative in each extension district, and the local office thus organized would not only be the center of the extension work in the district, but it could also render material service in the collection of educational statistics, and in bringing the department into more vital touch with the schools of the country. In this way we should have a university coextensive with America, a truly national university, since it would include the entire people, and one which would be a much greater power for good than the elaborate institution which is dreamed of for the capital city.
It is a commonplace that the most vital interest of America is the education of her citizens, and that her greatest danger lies in the disintegrating force of ignorance within her own borders. But this largest interest, both in point of power and of danger, is given secondary place in the national councils. We have a Secretary of War, of the Navy, of the Treasury, and of such material interests, but we have no Secretary of Education. With the elevation of the commissioner to the place of a cabinet officer, the new portfolio would be well charged with power if it had linked to it the destiny of a work of such magnitude and promise as university extension. We should then be committed as a people in very practice to what we now profess only in theory, to the enlightenment and elevation of the whole nation. There are doubtless difficulties and objections in the way of carrying out the suggestion here brought forward; but, when the evidence for and against is duly considered, I believe that the balance will be found much in favor of such a nationalization of the extension movement.
As I set down in formal order these statements concerning the achievements and potentialities of university extension, I feel again the deep enthusiasm which was aroused by a first acquaintance with that large idea for which the movement stands. The attempt to realize this idea has had mixed with it somewhat that was unworthy. There has been a manifest tendency to estimate its worth by the common American standard of numbers. That thousands should listen to a popular extension lecturer was counted success; and men have gone into the work for the admitted purpose of advertising themselves and their branches. But these are the accidents of the movement. Under them there is an essential principle, a working idea, which has in it immense promise.
As a people we greatly need the leaven of a higher purpose. The ideal of life most current has in it much that is sordid and mercenary. Here is an opportunity to present a more worthy ideal, to substitute for the popular self-assertion a spirit of greater teachableness. We have not yet reached a point where we can impose our ideas upon the world-spirit, however vaingloriously we may try. They are not worthy. They must needs be renovated and transformed before they deserve permanence. The greatest claim which the extension movement can have upon thoughtful people is that it is an organized crusade against that current Philistinism which devotes the social opportunity known as America to lower motives and ends than are worthy of it. It is a mistake to suppose for an instant that the public schools of the country will ever save us from the utterly commonplace, or to fancy that the higher education is an expensive luxury which we can quite as well do without. On the contrary, it is just as much a necessity as the elementary training. It is essential to have good foundations, but, if we all went to building cellars and stopped there, we should never have any cities. We need the higher education in America, and we need it in large measure, for we are a people with a large opportunity. And we need it particularly now, for the grave problems which press upon us for solution will demand a tolerance and large-mindedness which come only when the human spirit is well disciplined. We have here a great and busy people, but a people too unimaginative and too unideal. We need the infusion of a spirit of culture into the national thought and life, if we are to realize the destiny which seems possible to us.
The preaching of Peter the Hermit aroused all Europe. The present occasion is less picturesque, but the crusade which it preaches stands for interests much more vital than the recovery of Jerusalem.