Cover image for Popular education and its discontents
Popular education and its discontents
Cremin, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1990.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper & Row, [1990]

Physical Description:
x, 134 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"The Inglis and Burton lectures, Harvard Graduate School of Education, March 1989"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
LC89 .C7 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Based on lectures delivered at Harvard U. in March 1989, Cremin (education, Columbia U.) reflects on the problems and achievements of present-day education in the context of American educational traditions, and discusses the central issues of educational policy for the 1990s. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cremin follows up on his monumental three-volume history, American Education: The Colonial Experience (Harper, 1972), American Education: The National Experience (Harper, 1980), and American Education: The Metropolitan Experience (Harper, 1988), with the texts of his Inglis and Burton Lectures. In his trilogy, Cremin argued that American education evinced three abiding characteristics--popularization, multitudinousness (the proliferation of educational institutions), and politicization (solving social problems through education rather than through politics). In these essays, the author analyzes further evidence of the achievements and problems of those three characteristics, including popularization having caused a perceived decline in academic standards, schools and colleges erroneously being expected to accomplish the educational tasks of our modern postindustrial age, and politicization placing exceptional burdens on schools. Contentious but perfectly accessible. To be indexed. --Allen Weakland

Publisher's Weekly Review

Distinguished historian of education Cremin ( Traditions of American Education ) comments on salient aspects of the nation's schooling in these three lectures delivered in 1989. After identifying ``popularization,'' ``multitudinousness'' and ``politicization'' as abiding characteristics of American education and as sources of crisis, he distances himself from recent doomsayers. In his view, the system's crises and its strengths stem from attempts to balance the ``tremendous variety of demands Americans have made on their schools and colleges,'' and from efforts to provide for the extraordinary diversity of young people. Cremin's reflections offer guidance for educational policymakers who face the complex imperatives of the 1990s. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Cremin's new book on American education is, like many of his previous works, very insightful and very readable. The focus of the volume is no less than the whole concept of universal public education, which he refers to as still one of our highest ideals. In what amounts to three chapters, Cremin assesses the current state of this ideal and the discontents associated with it. For his analysis he draws on many themes he has already established in previous works. The one that comes immediately to mind is Public Education, (Ch, Oct'76). Cremin argues that if there are problems with American education they should be traced to the burdens the institutional school must bear as a result of a fragmented public and a society that shuns politics as a way of solving social problems. The author also charts some interesting insights into other educative configurations--such as day-care and television--and he properly places schooling in a context he calls "the cacophony of teaching." It is a great book for all readers, general through undergraduate, who would like an authoritative yet manageable analysis of the current state of public education. Cremin suggests some very important concerns that must be considered as one thinks about schooling and the future. -M. J. Carbone, Muhlenberg College