The Pros and Cons
The five main philosophies of education are Essentialism, Perennialism, Progressivism, Social Reconstructionism, and Existentialism. Many heated and widely controversial debates have been discussed with famous historical representations on just which of these philosophies best serve our students. All philosophies, like many debated subjects, have their pros and cons when implemented towards student’s curriculum, teaching and assessment. To fully evaluate which of these philosophies provide the quintessence of education one must first discern the implications of each philosophy, and compare at least one to a real-world environment to compare if book descriptions of these philosophies create true representations. Although a future educator may not agree to one or more of these philosophies, it is important to anyone entering the education field to fully understand the consequences of each philosophy in order to make a well-rounded decision on which they believe will best serve the needs of the students. Essentialism is a method of teaching implemented in the TISD (Tyler Independent School District). It is the ideal that the core curriculum should be the main focus of the education system. Subjects such as math, science, history, foreign language, and literature take place over any other “non essential” subjects. This ideology creates an atmosphere that is considered traditional in America. Tests and daily assessments are given in order to keep track of student’s progress. The students are mostly viewed as a mass rather than given individualistic attention. Not to say that all essentialism way of teaching is a “mass production” way of educating, as observed in many classrooms throughout TISD teachers were eager to help an individual when needed. However, on a more broad scale, the district school board is more interested in how the results of tests are affected in a measureable way. Which brings us to why essentialism negates upon other non-core classes, it is because essentialists think that other non-core classes takes up time and resources that could be better spent on the core classes. One big promoter of this ideology is George W Bush with his “No Child Left Behind Act”. This idea promulgates that one unified way of identifying progress in schools throughout districts will better prepare our students for success in future careers. Which in a way it does allow states to view progress of students district wide. However, the problem with this act was that there were not funds to properly instill the type of uniformity in the education and as with any statistics there is always room for different interpretations when it comes to reading the results. Other famous supporters are “E. D. Hirsch Jr.” and “Allan Bloom” (pg. 251 Sadker, Zittleman). Perennialism is similar to Essentialism with some variations. Both require extreme focus upon the core classes and follow-up consultations to see students progress however the main difference is that Perennialism requires students to learn through experiences. This does not mean a tactile approach but the students learn through what are considered “classics” in literature. The characters in novels provide students opportunities to see where the characters made good or bad decisions and where they could have implemented a higher level of thinking to prevent and solve problems. Perennialism also focuses on developing moral characters. Again through classic examples of literature students are able to see how morality plays in life. Perennialists also believe outside of the “core” classes should not be allowed if it detracts from the student’s focus. Criticizers of Perennialism often argue that what are considered classics in literature often provide limited prospective. The classics only offer our western cultural perspective and therefore do not provide a well rounded view. Another main difference between...
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