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ing throughout its history, and for the solution of
which any formulation of laws must wait. These
problems concern almost every point for which de-
mocracy is supposed to stand. These furnish the
work of the day, and with these the philosopher,
whoever he may be or whatever he may be, must
engage himself. These problems are so old and so
constantly before us that they scarcely need mention;


and yet the longer their solution is delayed, the more
serious becomes their importance. Sociahsm, or
the extreme and exaggerated form of democracy,
threatens to deprive democracy of many of her best
friends, and unless checked bids fair to do incalcu-
lable injury to the movement for popular govern-
ment. The rapid increase of the population in the
larger cities, and the character of this population,
has raised the question whether, in these cases, de-
mocracy is able to deal with municipal government,
whatever advantages it may have in state and national
government. The numbers of the people have
greatly increased in a hundred years. Did the de-
mocracy of a century ago contemplate that one
hundred millions of people were to be governed by
themselves ? Whatever democracy may do in coun-
tries like Switzerland, the problem which presents
itself in America, or even in France, is, on account
of the vast numbers concerned, something most

Within the past three or four decades great wealth
has come to a few men here and there, and the re-
lation of this accumulated wealth to democratic insti-
tutions and to democratic life has still to be deter-
mined. In a monarchy or aristocracy there is a place
for men of wealth. How is it in a democracy ? Here,
too, there must be a place for such; but what shall
it be and by what determined? What, too, shall
democracy finally determine concerning tha great
business corporations which, to so great an extent,


now control the commercial life of the nation ? These
are not survivals from an aristocracy. They are the
product of democracy. Democracy herself is re-
sponsible for them. How will she adjust herself to
them and them to herself ?

The law-making bodies of democracy are gradu-
ally losing strength and prestige. Another quarter
of a century of deterioration, another quarter of a
century without radical modification of the present
plan, will put popular government in a position which
will be embarrassing in the extreme. Thus far de-
mocracy seems to have found no way of making sure
that the strongest men should be placed in control
of the country's business. Men confessedly weak,
whose private business has been a failure, are too
frequently the men who are intrusted with the nation's
affairs. Especially has the diplomatic and consular
service of democracy (although there are notable ex-
ceptions) been weak and unsatisfactory. How shall
the strong men be secured for government work?
The democracy of a century ago never dreamed that
a party machine would be substituted for the will of
the people. Is the government of today really a de-
mocracy, or is it rather an oHgarchy ? The problem
of the demagogue and the machine is on every side.
The difficulty of securing an honest vote is certainly
greater than could have been anticipated. Many
do not care to vote; many desire to vote too often.
In some sections many are not allowed to vote who
by the laws of the land are entitled to vote. How


shall the vote, the whole vote, and nothing but the
vote, be counted?

The church, too, is losing its hold upon the people.
For this the democracy is directly or indirectly re-
sponsible. The churches are not democratic insti-
tutions. The great class of workingmen is hostile
to them. And unfortunately the masses make no
distinction between the church and Christianity. De-
mocracy has in this matter a great problem staring
her in the face.

Education is the basis of all democratic progress.
The problems of education are, therefore, the prob-
lems of democracy. These are numerous and varied
and complex; only the expert can appreciate their
gravity. It is maintained by some that in a democracy
only the mediocre may be expected in the develop-
ment of art and literature and science. It is the duty
of democracy to meet this proposition; for, if true,
it is in itself fatal to democracy's highest claims. The
future of democracy is the problem of problems, in-
cluding, as it does, all others. What will democracy
have achieved one hundred — five hundred — years
hence ? The highest and final test of every plan of
government is, as Mr. Godkin has said, its abihty
to last.

Now, I know full well the tendency of our Ameri-
can repubUc to sneer at the theorizing of the uni-
versity; to treat disdainfully all statements which
bear the stamp of scholarly spirit; to look askance
at everything that seems to bear the air of superiority.


But when, against the advice of experience and the
plea of theory, urgent steps are taken which soon
prove to be wrong steps, how quickly does this same
American public turn about and adopt the idea which
theory and experience advocated! The examples
of this are so numerous and so familiar that I will
not stop to recount them.

The university, therefore, is the philosopher of
democracy, because it and it alone furnishes the
opportunity for the study of these problems. Allow
me to repeat the functions of the university as they
were formulated by the great apostle of democracy,
Thomas Jejfferson:

To form the statesmen, legislators, and judges, on whom
public property and individual happiness are so much to
depend; to expound the principles and structure of govern-
ment, the laws which regulate the intercourse of nations,
those formed principally for our own government in a sound
spirit of legislation; .... to harmonize and promote the
interests of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, and
by well-informed views of political economy to give free
scope to the public industry.

What is this but to solve the problems of democ-

I have not forgotten that the Old Testament
Messiah was expected to be not only a prophet, a
priest, and a sage, but also a king. But the repre-
sentation as king was only an adaptation to the
monarchy under which the idea had its birth. When
he came, he was no king in any sense that had been
expected. His was a democratic spirit; democracy


has no place for a king. The dream of the Old
Testament theocracy was of this Messiah, the ex-
pected one, by whose hand wrong should be set right,
the high ones cast down, the lowly lifted up. And
all the while prophets and priests and sages were
living and working and hastening forward the reali-
zation of this magnificent ideal.

Now, let the dream of democracy be likewise of
that expected one; this time an expected agency
which, in union with all others, will usher in the dawn
of the day when the universal brotherhood of man
will be understood and accepted by all men. Mean-
while the universities here and there, in the New
World and in the Old; the university men who
occupy high places throughout the earth; the uni-
versity spirit which, with every decade, dominates
the world more fully, will be doing the work of the
prophet, the priest, and the philosopher of democ-
racy, and will continue to do that work until it shall
be finished, until a purified and exalted democracy
shall have become universal.



Because we live in an environment largely
dominated by the spirit of democracy; because we
breathe an atmosphere strongly charged with the
spirit of inquiry; and because we cherish hopes and
ideals thoroughly impregnated with the spirit of
constructive work, there have come to exist among us
an interest in popular education and a sympathy
for its promulgation unknown among the people of
other nations, unparalleled in any preceding period
of history.

The spirit of democracy is fast taking closer
hold upon our civilization, and with every fresh
grasp, the a£fairs of individual and of state assume
new relations to each other — relations which demand
larger and keener conceptions of life and action.

The spirit of inquiry is everywhere stirring men's
souls to such a depth that old ideas must take on
new expression, if they are still to have a place side
by side with the new ideas which claim consideration.
The constructive spirit, in the presence of which
nothing seems to be impossible or unattainable,
impels men to undertake deeds in the accomplish-
ing of which definite knowledge, expert skill, and
thorough discipline are essential factors.



And so it comes to pass that the people on all
sides and of all classes expect — indeed, demand —
what we call education. We see today, as men
never have seen before, what the people when edu-
cated .can actually accomphsh; what education of
the people really signifies; what freedom of speech
and thought involves.

The phrase ''popular edu catio n" may mean
one or all of several things. It is, in fact, employed
to designate various meanings. In its largest sense
it, of course, means the -education of the peopleT)y
the^^gSQgki^ Somfi-times itia^used to designate the
education of adult men and women_, as distinguished
Erom that of children in the schools, and of young
men and women in the colleges. Sometimes it is
used to signify a general education, as distinguished
from technical or professional. Or, it may be used
to include the education in lower grades of the
millions of school children; for, from one point of
view, this is an education of the people. Again, it
may be limited to those vague influences which
elevate and cultivate humanity at large — influences
as numberless as they are vague.

A classification or division of the term "popular
education" sufficiently definite for our purpose,
will be obtained if we treat as popular the agencies
and influences not ordinarily included in our regular
school and college system. These latter may be
termed professional, or technical, or formal, as dis-
tinguished from those called popular. And the


line of distinction shall be that in one case the
persons instructed go to the school; in the other,
the school or educational agency goes to the student.
This dividing hne, though at first sight it may-
appear arbitrary, will be found on closer examination
to be based upon fundamental distinctions. Let
me mention two or three.

In school education the individual makes study
his first work, and everything else subsidiary; in
popular education, one's occupation, the means of
livehhood, takes precedence, while the educational
effort becomes secondary.

In the education of the school, in most cases
work is not a matter of choice, the details having
been largely determined beforehand either by the
circumstances of the case, as in the education of
the young; or by tradition, as, for the most part, in
college work; or by the special demands of a fixed
routine, as in the case of professional training.
Popular education, on the other hand, is marked
by the entire absence of such rigid determination;
the kind of work, its method, and its time all being
questions concerning which there is larger choice.
This££domjnay have disadvantages : the
definite and specjfic resu lts of a more forma.1 educa-
tion may. not be s^9^^^4v Still, it must be remem-
bered that the people have in general reached a
maturity of judgment not yet attained by the mass
of those in attendance upon school, and, further,
that the popular work is absolutely elective, nay


even voluntary; and this election holds not only in
the matter of the subject studied, but also in the
matter of what time and attention shall be given it.
This element of election, joined to that of voluntary
effort, is of large significance.

Another distinction between school and popular
education is this fact : the former usually is endowed,
either by the state, as in the pubhc-school system
and in the state institutions, or by private munifi-
cence; whereas the latter is for the most part de-
pendent either upon the effort of those whose inter-
est is excited by general considerations of philan-
thropy, or else upon the motives which control in
ordinary business enterprises.

Having now determined what, for our study, the
term "popular education" means, we must next
consider what may be included from one point of
view or another as the mos t importa nt agencies of
popular education . I shall arrange them roughly
in three groups. The first will include the agencie s
which hqvp to ^0 T^'t^ rpadingr. Here belong:
the daily newspaper, which. .throws mi.LiE6tni_day
to day millions on millions of printed sheets, devoted
to the world's woe or welfare; the monthly maga-
zines which lie upon the tables of nearly every
ho me in ^.the, ^.landy^^and -which yield a constantly
increasing contribution to the culture of the multi-
tudes who read them; and the current literature in
book form — an agency which guides and elevates the
minds of the morj„ thoughtful, those more strongly


inclined to work out in serious fashion the many
problems which confront the thinking man, . To
this group belong, also, the long hst of organizations
intended to encourage the reading of books, among
which the Chautauqua holds first place.

The second group will include those agencies
which suggest a more thorough study of important
subjects by providing definite assistance, or by
indirectly forcing their consideration upon the
"people at large. Here belong organizations in-
tended to guide and help individual workers, and
groups of workers; such as the university extension,
with its lecture study, its syllabus, its classes, and
its written papers ; the correspondence schools,
which number their pupils by tens of thousands;
the lyceum lecture courses, undertaken for enter-
tainment as well as for instruction, and capable of
producing large educational results when under
proper control; Chautauqua assemblies, through
which hundreds of thousands receive every year
inspiration to higher thought and direction in
higher hfe ; educational associations, which in North,
South, East, and West draw together in helpful
assembly the representative minds of many sections.

Here _belong, too, those associations intended
to develop the religious side of man's nature ; such'
as, the church, the Christian Association, the Chris-
tian Endeavor, the Sunday school7-_all of which
broaden and cultivate those who open their minds
to the sweet and ennobling influences of the religious


spirit. And in this connection we must not overlook
political meetings and great political campaigns —
all of which fire the heart and educate the thought
of those whose minds are open to the strong and
stirring influences of the true patriotic spirit; nor
those public gatherings held by way of celebration
of great deeds, or in mourning for great lives ended;
in which mind is brought in contact with mind,
body into magnetic touch with body; in which is
felt the awful and majestic influence of great num-
bers; in which humanity, not individual man,
makes known its feelings and its faith.

^To the third group we may assign those agencies,
of 'a character far less tangible, whose influence,^
though considerable, is perhaps more scattering.
I mean such as travehng, the educational value of
which, whether the journey be in one's own land
or abroad, is inestimable. The famous caravan
of ancient times might properly have been called a
traveling school. The well-organized excursion
trip in modern times, though it cover only a hundred
miles of travel, is an educational agency of the high-
est value. A good- slogan for a campaign of educa-
tion would be : Get away from home ! The bicycle
has taught some people more than they have ever
learned from books. Railroad transportation is a
subject as closely connected with the work of educa-
tion as with any work of a commercial character.

As a matter of fact, too, business enterprises
constitute a factor in education to which a high


place must be assigned; for many a man has received
a better education in a business house than he could
possibly have obtained in school or college. Every
honest business transaction has in it the essential
elements of educational training. Every business
enterprise is a school in which the manager is prin-
cipal, the heads of departments are teachers, the
staff of employees the pupils. Nay more — ^it is a
great laboratory in which men by working together
secure results, the work and the results together
exercising an educational influence. And if this
be in any sense true of business enterprises in
general, it is peculiarly true of the industrial under-
takings which cover the entire face of our beloved
country. Another influence of a popular character,
more refining perhaps than commerce, and perhaps
equally helpful, exists in the various forms of art,
which find expression in music, in museums of
painting and sculpture, and in museums which
provide collections of an anthropological character.

Again, the fairs in olden and in modern times
are commonly recognized to have been a significant
factor in the education of the people: the county
fair, the state fair, the exposition of a country or of a
section of a country, and last of all the international
exposition. In the effort to enumerate the separate
agencies contributing to popular education, I might
go far into detail but what I have given will be

Is it not possible, now, for us to think of these


different agencies as constituting a single great
division of effort — the effort put forth for the upHf ting
of mankind which seeks thus constantly to raise
itself ? And may we not pass a kindly judgment on
the character of the effort thus put forth, and try to
determine, at least in general, some of its tendencies ?
The thing most obviously suggested, by the
recital of such a list as that just given, is its variety
and its constantly increasing scope. When we
remember that the daily newspaper in its modern
form, as well as the magazine, has come into existence
since the war; that such agencies as Chautauqua
assembhes and university extension are scarcely
twenty-five years old; that correspondence schools
and educational conferences are of comparatively
recent origin; that the Sunday school itself is scarcely
more than a century old; that the Christian Associa-
tion and Christian Endeavor have had only a few
years of existence ; that traveling, in any large sense
of that term, has come with the establishment of
railroads and telegraphs; that international expo-
sitions in this country scarcely go back farther than
to 1876 — we are in a position to appreciate the fact
that this great variety is something really recent,
and that this broadening of the scope of popular
education, great as it has already become, is only
in the first stages of a development which gives
promise of almost infinite enlargement. The differ-
ent agencies already in operation are being intensified
and multipHed.


And, besides those, we know that new agencies,
today undreamed of, will be inaugurated. Do you
ask for facts which point in this direction? I
would remind you of the use to which school build-
ings in many rural districts and in cities are being
put for the uplifting of the community at large;
the organization of parental associations for the
advancement of school interests — a plan which
makes every school the center of a scheme for the
education of the people; the lecture courses con-
ducted by the city and state of New York, in every
center in which an audience will gather — a system
that will surely spread itself to other states; the
invention of attachments for the organ and piano,
by use of which the wealth of classical and standard
music is placed within the reach of everyone; the
processes of reproduction, by means of which the
great works of art are now accessible to all who
desire to study them; the increasing number of
expositions which bring the world and the world's
ideas and productions to the feet of him who may
not himself go around the world to search them out ;
the step just taken in the organizing of the General
Education Board for arousing larger educational
interest among the people of the southern states.

Let me also recall to mind the new position
assumed by great institutions of learning in their
attitude toward the people outside their walls;
a new and striking attitude, in these modern days,
of scholarship itself, which no longer is a thing of


the monastery, but, like wisdom as described of
old, "standeth in the top of high places, by the
way in the places of the path; she crieth at the
gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at
the doors: Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice
is to the sons of men."^

All this signifies that, as time makes requisition,
new forms of propaganda will suggest themselves;
new agencies will grow up; a variety still greater
than any that we have yet seen will characterize
this work which is still only in its infancy. No
one for instance, will dispute the statement that
today many of the people are engaged in study
where in times past the number was small. Each
century seems to have added largely to the number
of those who have freed themselves from the thral-
dom of ignorance and superstition, and thereby
have gained a point of view which makes thinking a
possibility. The progress of the last century has
been the result of the work of millions, not hundreds ;
and the immensity of this progress, as compared
with that of preceding centuries, is in proportion
to the number of individuals whose minds have
been awakened.

Where there has been freedom to avail oneself of
educational advantages there has, to be sure, been
conflict; but in the end brightness and joy have
always come. On the other hand, dreary and waste
is the country in which the people are not thus

«Prov. 8:2-4


encouraged to improve themselves. Today, as com-
pared with past ages many more are thinking
into fundamental problems; but still more will
tomorrow be thinking into these problems; for
humanity is just beginning to enjoy the sweetness
of hberty; and liberty is something a taste of which
creates an appetite which not even heaven can
repress so long as legitimate satisfaction is denied.

Another tendency of popular education, which
is very marked, and exhibits itself in connection
with nearly every agency now in operation, is the
greater depth of thought which it provokes.

We see, for instance, that the truth on many
subjects is possessing the minds of the masses in a
more definite and tangible way than heretofore.
The people at large are thinking about matters of
a fundamental character, because the people as
such are being educated. Every generation, being
the heir of preceding generations, comes into an
accumulated inheritance which actually compels
wide, and consequently deeper, consideration of
all that relates to Hfe. The agencies mentioned
are also in part the occasion of this tendency to
deeper thought; in part they are the product of it.
Institutions, for instance, are devised and adapted
to meet the demands of a situation. With the
progress of civilization the Kfe of the people becomes
more and more compHcated; and the problems of
such life are necessarily more and more difficult
of settlement. Consequently, every effort to solve


these problems carries deep and deeper the thought
of those engaged in the solution. The upheavals
of society, symptoms of which appear on all sides,
are a single illustration of this thought. This
social unrest, wherever found, arises from the
determination to settle great and important ques-
tions in a new way.

And so to all that body of intellectual effort the
purpose of which is to secure an adjustment of
relationships already established, in so far as this
is the outgrowth of a general co-operation both
intelligent and philanthropic, no objection can be

Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 3 of 24)