Problem: To retrive a specific column by method.find

ActiveRecord works at the row (aka record) level, not the column
level. That's not to say that you can't just get a single column of
data back from the database, you can, but you won't have all the
attributes if you do this so just keep that in mind. you'll probably
want to map them to an array

try something like:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  def self.names
    # find all records, then map name attributes to an array
    find(:all, :select => "name").map(&:name)
  end
end

then just do

@names = User.names

in your controller methods where you need it

btw

.map(&:name)

is shorthand for

.map { |x| x.name }