TRADITIONS OF AMERICAN EDUCATION by Lawrence A. Cremin
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TRADITIONS OF AMERICAN EDUCATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cremin's conception of the sources of American education is not restricted to schools or formal teaching but encompasses the other institutions that help shape individual character and intellect. This thoughtful, resonant interpretation of their historical development urges recognition of a changing configuration of educational influences and the complexity of their interaction. In colonial days the home, the church, and the free press (in addition to the emigration experience itself) ""educated"" as significantly as classroom exercises; it is these diverse social agencies that Cremin includes in his broader definition, suggesting their consequences for individuals (Franklin's Autobiography is the most obvious source) while cautioning against easy generalizations from individual accounts. Following the Revolution (1783-1876) other influences emerged: apprenticeships and workplaces generally and, more fundamentally, an educational vernacular that advanced the idea of a popular paideia or ""life itself as deliberate cultural and ethical aspiration."" And in the years since 1876 transforming influences--the mass media especially--have altered the scene entirely, infiltrating not just the church and the home but the school as well. Cremin juggles these factors handily, aware of the historiographical tradition in which he works (the closing chapter dwells on issues and sources) and of the portion of humanity to which his conclusions apply; he pointedly acknowledges geographical variations and--repeatedly--the large numbers (of slaves, Indians, immigrants, women) who had limited access. An impressive unraveling of the mesh of education traditions.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1977
Publisher: Basic Books