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Cremin, Lawrence Arthur


CREMIN, LAWRENCE ARTHUR (1925–1990), U.S. educator and authority on the progressive school system. A native of New York, Cremin received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1949 and began to teach at the university's Teachers' College. In 1957 he was appointed a full professor. In 1958 he became chairman of the department of philosophy and social sciences. In 1961 he became the Frederick A.P. Barnard Professor of Education as well as a member of Columbia's history department. He was president of the History of Education Society in 1959 and the National Society of College Teachers of Education, and then became vice president of the National Academy of Education. He directed the Teachers College's Institute of Philosophy and Politics of Education from 1965 until 1974, when he became the college's seventh president (1974–84). In that capacity, he established new centers, created new professorships, and raised funds while at the same time building on the college's existing strengths. He retired from the presidency in 1984 to return to teaching and research. In 1985, while remaining on the Columbia and Teachers College faculties, he became president of the Spencer Foundation, a Chicago-based educational research organization.

During his four decades at Teachers College, Cremin helped broaden the study of American educational history by promoting a more comprehensive approach: he examined the other agencies and institutions that educated children, integrated the study of education with other historical fields, and compared educational methods across international boundaries. He also played a leading role in many professional, governmental, and philanthropic organizations, including the U.S. Office of Education's Curriculum Improvement Panel, and the Carnegie Commission on the Education of Educators.

Cremin wrote The Transformation of the School; Progressivism in American Education, 1876–1957 (1961), a history of the progressive education movement in the United States, for which he was awarded the Bancroft Prize in American History in 1962. His major work was a three-volume comparative history of education in the United States entitled American Education. The second volume, covering the period from 1783 to 1876, won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1981. His other major works include The American Common School: An Historic Conception (1951), A History of Education in American Culture (with R.F. Butts, 1955), Public Schools in Our Democracy (with M.L. Borrowman, 1956), The Republic and the School: Horace Mann on the Education of Free Men (1957), The Genius of American Education (1965), Isaac Leon Kandel (1881–1865): A Biographical Memoir (1966), Public Education (1976), Traditions of American Education (1979), and Popular Education and Its Discontents (1990).

[Abraham J. Tannenbaum /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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