Exposition and Education



Among the most potent educational forces of recent years have been the great ex-positions of the world. Precisely, or even approximately, to what extent they have quickened the perceptions, aroused the dormant faculties and desires, encouraged wider and ofttimes more systematic reading, broadened the sympathies and enlarged the view of all classes, it is impossible to estimate. That they have, in a large measure, brought about these results no one will question. What opportunities these expositions have afforded people not fortunately enough situated to travel widely, bringing glimpses not only of the highest industrial and commercial activities of the world but of the best in science, in art, in all that pertains to the higher forms of education, and, perhaps best of all, living representatives of far distant lands. From this point of view, the Transmississippi Exposition, as an entirety, with all its attendant conferences and congresses, must be regarded as educational.

However, using the term in its more restricted sense, the educational features of the exposition may be classified under the following heads, the classification being based partly on the nature of the collection and partly on its location: First, The United States Bureau of Education, found of course in the Government building; second, the Nebraska educational exhibit, located in the galleries of the Manufactures building; !third, the exhibits of other states, a majority of which are placed in the gallery of the Liberal Arts building, though a few are found in the respective state buildings; fourth, single exhibits, chief among which may be mentioned those of Columbia university and the Chicago Art institute, the former having a booth on the lower floor of the Liberal Arts building and the latter in the gallery. While passing through the Government building the other day the question was asked: "What are the objects of the educational bureau?" The reply was: "To collect, publish and diffuse educational matter and statistics." The reflection at once followed: Then the exposition is an ideal bureau of education, in that it accomplishes these purposes objectively; putting them before one in concrete form.

I venture the assertion that the Alaskan! exhibit in charge of the Bureau of Education attracts hundreds. while the statistical charts, maps and other publications are scarcely glanced at. This is largely due to the fact that in the one are seen either real objects or faithful reproductions of them, while the other deals with the ab- stract. Yet In this particular instance the latter Is of infinitely more intrinsic value containing as it does information relating to all phases of education, and especially to those pertaining to the history and growth of education in the transmississippi region.

In making compilations the bureau group, the states of the union as follows: North Atlantic division, South Atlantic division, South Central division, North Central di-vision and Western division. Nebraska falls naturally in the North Central group. The statistics shown cover the last twenty or twenty-five years, a period long enough to make definite comparisons and demonstrate substantial progress. The utmost pains are taken to secure accuracy. The population of a state or group of states is always taken as the basis. It is well to keep this in mind in viewing the charts, else one may occasionally be misled (and possibly reach the conclusion of the man who in classifying falsehoods made statistics the worst form). For instance, while the actual number of illiterates in Nebraska or any given state may have materially increased during the last twenty years. the percentage of illiteracy may have greatly decreased. Nebraska has the lowest percentage at illiteracy of any one state, the North Central and Western divisions having the lowest of the groups.

As a further instance of the practical value of the statistical information, one chart. under the general heading, "Progress of Education in the Transmississippi States from 1870 to 1890," gives these items: In-crease in school population, in actual attendance, in value of school properties, resources and expenditures. The maps, among other 'things, show the number of schools in the United States, including the primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, normal and technical schools, and also the public libraries.

The one other statistical feature of the work of the bureau is that relating to the agricultural schools and experiment stations aided by the general government. Twenty-five thousand dollars annually is given each of these schools and $13,000 additional in case an experiment station is connected therewith.

A little reflection shows how the gathering and distribution of all these statistics indirectly benefits the institutions concerned. It tends, not only to promote the systematic keeping of records, a thing much to be desired, but by enabling them to make intelligent comparisons of results obtained, tends to constantly elevate their standards of efficiency in instruction and scholarship.