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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/548

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544
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

conception of education as a lifelong process has been generally accepted. It is no longer conceived to be solely confined within the walls of school, college or university. Many different agencies,—the home, the playground, the press, the pulpit, the lecture platform, the library, the labor union, the store, the shop, the farm, the office, the society—all supplement and complete the work of the school. In considering the duty and work of our public school system at the present time, or at any other period, attention should be paid to the functions which these other institutions are able to perform at the time under consideration. The school is normally a time and labor-saving device, as well as an institution which forms the character and aids in the development of the individual, and in the progress of society. It should convey to the student the accumulated experience of past generations, it ought to show the significance of his daily experience, and coordinate the latter with his studies and investigations; it ought to train him so that he can and will wish to continue his education by the aid of these other secondary educational agencies; and lastly, but not least, it should attempt to supply any deficiencies which change may develop in any one or all of these other agencies. The real function of the school is to adjust the individual to his environment—physical, industrial and social.

In the study of educational, problems at the present time, two important, but often overlooked or neglected, facts confront the investigator. In the first place, the social environment, the sum total of influences which bear upon the life of the individual, has been increased in extent; in other words, the entire world has been drawn closely into touch. People, intelligence, goods, now come from and go to the most distant parts of the globe quickly, surely and regularly. On the other hand, occupations and certain characteristics of home life have changed so as to tend to produce narrow views of life, and to confine the vast majority of individuals within narrow grooves of action and thought; the tendency is to cause him to live in "parenthesis," disconnected from the great world of thought and action. While modern communication and transportation, and world markets demand a broader life and tend to produce broad, liberal views of society and of the world; occupations have been specialized and subdivided until the life of the majority of individuals is cramped. Our daily work and home environment, whether rural or urban, tend to contract and astigmatize our view at the very period when democracy and the idea of a community spirit should thrive and be actually transformed into a reality. This is indeed a grim paradox of modern industrial life.

The earlier forms of industry gave the worker a relatively broad outlook; division of labor and specialization of industries tend to narrow this vision. As the division becomes more and more minute,