Page images


fundamental spirit of all universities in these respects, their most essential ideas, are the same and must remain the same. Gradually it dawned upon some people in the university world, first at Oxford, that it was not sufficient to teach students who came to the doors of the university; that it was not sufficient to advance knowledge; that there was a function of carrying knowledge out to the people. The name of the Oxford University Extension Movement was the name given to it at the time. Now what are the fundamental principles upon which these ideals are based ? The advance of knowledge has been greater in the past sixty years than in two thousand years before. Until about 1850 the development of knowledge was so slow that ideas which the people might utilize to their benefit were fairly well assimilated; but during the past sixty years, communication has brought all parts of the world together, discovery has gone in every direction, communication has become instantaneous, and knowledge has far outrun the assimilation of the people. We know enough about agriculture so that if it were only applied in Ontario the agricultural wealth of this Province could be doubled in a decade. We know enough about medicine so that if it were applied infectious and contagious diseases could be eliminated from this city in a generation or less. We know enough about eugenics so that if it were applied the feebleminded would disappear in a generation, and the insane in a very large proportion. But we don't apply that knowledge. The time was when it was said that it will do to teach the new knowledge to the boys and girls in the schools. And this, of course, should he done. But since many of you left the schools, a vast portion of this new heritage has accumulated. You have twenty-five or fifty years more to live. And you are but illustrations of the situation throughout this province and the nation of Canada. Therefore it is not enough to each the new knowledge to the people in the schools: it must be carried out to them everywhere. It was this situation which gradually led us in Wisconsin some ten years ago to attempt to reorganize this Extension Movement. This Extension Movement began in the lyceum method of instruction. The professors at Oxford went out and spoke to the people, giving perhaps two, four or six lectures upon a subject, and directly after the lectures there were colloquiums. That was good work to do, and it is continued to the present time. But it was found to be limited in its application and scope. For the most part it was pouring in knowledge upon the recipients and not asking the person to whom this new knowledge was given to use it, to dig it out for himself. It was information, rather than education. And therefore this lyceum method of instruction, while it is performing a brilliant service, and will continue to do so, has failed to accomplish all that was expected when the movement was launched at Oxford some sixty years ago. Now away from large centres it is very difficult to apply the method because of the expense; and even in large centres it is difficult to maintain. So we took up a movement in

the University of Wisconsin some eight or ten years ago for

the purpose of emphasizing it upon some different lines, and placing it upon some broader basis. The first line taken up was correspondence work. At the present time, the university has about as many students doing work by correspondence as at the university—somewhere between five and six thousand. When this plan of doing work by correspondence at the university was first broached to an eastern educator, he asked, “What about your ideals? Is it proper to be doing work not in the college or university building?” I replied that we didn't publish their names in the catalogue

of the institution, or give them degrees; and we didn't see

how it bemeaned us, doing any line of work for which we were the best fitted instruments. We thought we could do it without doing violence to anybody's ideals anywhere, or to the proper scope of the university. This advancement we took up not for the work of the elementary school or the secondary school, but we took it up for the benefit of the people not in school who wished to add to their education. I believe vour system of education provides for education in continuation schools, and that some ten or fifteen thousand boys and girls are attending them. But every one of us should be students in a continuation school throughout life. And it is to serve this large puropse that the Extension Movement was formulated. Our faculty—I don’t know how it has been in the University of Toronto—but in the University of Wisconsin, when it was proposed to enter upon this new work, some were conservative; some were afraid that the standards would be lowered. We said, however, that no department would be obliged to take up the work unless willing to do so, and that they would not be criticized if they did not. On that basis a few of them took it up. And now opposition to it has entirely disappeared, and practically every department is engaged in the work. And they say the work is well done, as well as in the university. We of course do not accept the work of extension for a degree; only one-half may be done in absentia. A great satisfaction is that it has opened the door of opportunity and made an education available to any boy or girl without respect to condition of birth, without respect to his ability to go to college or university. In the little village of Bloominggrove, eight or ten miles from Madison, a boy lived on a little forty-acre farm; he had his mother and aged grandfather to support, and others. So it was simply impossible for him to get away from the little forty-acre farm. But he was interested in astronomy. He made a telescope and ground the glass for it. And two of the comets discovered that year bear the name of that boy! He took up correspondence in the University of Wisconsin, which fitted him to become an astronomical instrument maker; and now he is making instruments to be sent out to all parts of the United States. Thus we have this twofold purpose: not only to get knowledge to the people, but also to find a way for the boy or girl of parts, whatever the condition of birth. One of the professors in the University of Wisconsin, who was chairman of the State Commission of Commerce, and is now on the Interstate Commerce Commission, was attracted to the university by correspondence work, and he said he never could have hoped to get an education except that he began that way. This work takes over many lines. I have not time to more than hint at the various lines in which this work of extension is carried on in Wisconsin. I shall illustrate only a few of them. We have, for instance, a municipal reference department, to answer questions for any municipality in the State regarding which it may ask any question it may desire, for example, about a sewerage system, the forms of charters, types of drainage systems or waterworks, plants of any kind—the information is furnished to them and the best advice given along that line. And this work is done not with the purpose to get us into politics: for we help a Socialist here, a Democrat there, a Republican somewhere else; and it is carried on in an impersonal way, without regard to who asks the information. All this has led to complete ahsence of criticism. The department serves as an expert adviser to the municipalities in Wisconsin throughout the State. Another field is that of debating and public discussion, I don’t know how it is in Toronto and Ontario, but the Anglo-Saxons and Norse over in Wisconsin, and the Norwe. gians and Germans, are so cantankerous, that in every little crossroads community they have a debating society! They used to discuss such questions as these in my youth: “Is George Washington or Abraham Lincoln the greater man?” “Is man's intellect equal to woman's, or rice versa?”—perfectly futile questions, which begin nowhere and end nowhere ! It seemed to us, however, that here was an opportunity, an educational opportunity, and so burning questions of the day, such as the initiative, the referendum, and the recall, methods of taxation, currency reform, the tariff, all these questions which were before our people, have been taken up by our Extension Department, and a careful syllabus of the arguments on each side was prepared. Each political and social question regarding which you differ has two sides, and there are honest arguments upon each side, and the way we do advance depends upon the balance or arguments between the two. So these arguments are outlined, and little books are prepared, and bunches of pamphlets, each illustrating and giving materials for research upon the subject. So when the Crossroads Debating Society wanted to discuss the tariff, this syllabus went to that society, and with it this bunch of books and pamphlets, and wherever you have a crossroads debating society you have a powerful educational force. Not only are they taking up these questions in the societies that already existed, but there have been organized many more than existed before, and they are discussing these live questions. If we are to have in Wisconsin the initiative, the referendum and the recall, as doubtless we will in the near future, it is high time to get them set seriously thinking upon these questions upon which they will be obliged to pass.

Another work is that of demonstration, that is, sending out demonstrations and travelling exhibitions of various kinds, and holding public institutes. A demonstration of hygiene and sick philanthropy was running for three months in Milwaukee. These means of communication with the people result in very great advancement. A travelling tuberculosis exhibition goes about the State, to any little town which will ask for it and furnish a room in which to place the exhibit, and the co-operation of physicians in this town and others is secured, who go in and give lectures upon the prevention of tuberculosis, the means of elimination of the disease and the conservation of health. The cost is almost nothing, and this method is far more efficient than extensive sanitariums, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Another matter is that of the university rendering expert serivee to the State. Your president raised the question whether the Legislature were the fathers of the university, or the Legislature were subject to the university. Now this is a tender subject with us, and a tender subject with the Legislature. They don’t enjoy intimations of this kind. But I am very glad the point has been raised, because I can illustrate the principle. We carefully refrain from tendering our advice anywhere until we are asked. We don’t go down to the committees of the Legislature and frame their bills for them. Professors do not go to the Legislature unless they are asked. But it has been the habit of the Legislature of Wisconsin for the past eight or ten years to think that possibly they don’t know by intuition just what should be done in the composition of a complicated bill. Therefore, our Reference Library is in charge of a philosopher, who goes down when he is asked, to give such assistance as he can. As a matter of fact, many bills, and those the most progressive bills, are those in which professors of the university had had a large share. Some professors, when the Public Utilities Bill was drawn up, were down at the Legislature night after night for three months. Similarly when other bills have been under consideration it has been the custom to appoint commissions to make reports. The result is that at the present time there are serving on such commissions over forty men on the instructional staff of the university, doing expert work for the State; and in the same way many other men are doing work incidentally.

« PreviousContinue »