Twenty-three years after beginning his monumental history of US pedagogy, Cremin has completed its third and final volume....

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AMERICAN EDUCATION: The Metropolitan Experience, 1876-1980

Twenty-three years after beginning his monumental history of US pedagogy, Cremin has completed its third and final volume. His dedication is to be applauded, though many may feel that his ambition exceeds his final achievement. As in the previous volumes, Cremin defines ""education"" in its broadest sense, and thus forces himself into a narrative structure so discursive that it frequently lacks focus and forward movement. By analyzing the fundamentalist/premillenarian movement as an educational phenomenon, rather than as a religious-cum-social one, for example, he feels it necessary to include such seemingly peripheral matters as the Scopes trial of 1925, the Moody Bible Institute, and the Plymouth Brethren. This omnivorous approach also forces him to treat much of his material glancingly and to abandon chronology in favor of a catch-as-catch-can format, often leaving the reader unsatisfied or confused. The problem is compounded by Cremin's seeming inability to discover an overarching direction in the development of education in the US, except for the gradual change to urban ""metropolitanization."" However, isolated sections do rise above the general uninspired level of competence. Cremin's discussion of the altering goals of American museums in the 1970's and 80's, while far too cursory, is perceptive, as is his analysis of the various WPA programs devised to provide work in the arts during the Depression. Overall, this almost 800-page work will be more useful as a reference volume than for new insights into the material.

Pub Date: March 30, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988