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The History of University Education in Maryland Part 8

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In indulging this piece of speculation I have had a practical purpose before me. If what I have described be a reasonable forecast for the University of the Future, does it not follow that University Extension, as the germ of it, presents a field for the very highest academic ambition? To my mind it appears that existing types of university have reached a point where further development in the same direction would mean decline. In English universities the ideal is 'scholars.h.i.+p.'

Scholars.h.i.+p is a good thing, and we produce it. But the system which turns out a few good scholars every year pa.s.ses over the heads of the great ma.s.s of university students without having awakened them to any intellectual life; the universities are scholars.h.i.+p-factories producing good articles but with a terrible waste of raw material. The other main type of university enthrones 'research' as its summum bonum. Possibly research is as good a purpose as a man can set before him, but it is not the sole aim in life. And when one contemplates the band of recruits added each year to the army of investigators, and the choice of ever minuter fields--not to say lanes and alleys--of research, one is led to doubt whether research is not one of the disintegrating forces of society, and whether ever increasing specialisation must not mean a perpetual narrowing of human sympathies in the intellectual leaders of mankind. Both types of university appear to me to present the phenomena of a country suffering from the effects of overproduction, where the energies of workers had been concentrated upon adding to the sum of wealth, and all too little attention had been given to the distribution of that wealth through the different ranks of the community. Just at this point the University Extension movement appears to recall academic energy from production to distribution; suggesting that devotion to physics, economics, art, can be just as truly shown by raising new cla.s.ses of the people to an interest in physical and economic and aesthetic pursuits, as by adding to the discoveries of science, or increasing the ma.s.s of art products. To the young graduate, conscious that he has fairly mastered the teaching of the past, and that he has within him powers to make advances, I would suggest the question whether, even for the highest powers, there is any worthier field than to work through University Extension towards the University of the Future.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 53: The Cambridge fee is 45 per course of three months.]

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