Educational Theory: Essentialism and Perennialism

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ACADEMIC TOPIC OVERVIEWS

Essentialism & Perennialism
Educational Theory > Essentialism & Perennialism
Table of Contents
Abstract Keywords phies. Applications of Essentialism and Perennialism that include roles and impacts on certain groups including students, teachers, and administrators are outlined. A conclusion is offered that analyzes current philosophical viewpoints and a solution is offered to teachers that frames present philosophical thought to inform and support teachers in creating a successful classroom environment aimed at promoting achievement for all students.

Philosophical Overviews
Essentialism Perennialism

Philosophical Overviews
Central to all academic disciplines and the formation of ideas are the philosophies that guide our values and beliefs regarding a given academic discipline. Public education in the United States is guided by five main philosophical viewpoints. These philosophical viewpoints include: • Essentialism, • Progressivism, • Perennialism, • Existentialism, and • Behaviorism. The guiding philosophies of education reflect not only the internal assumptions of the individual teacher, but they also construct the culture of schools and school districts. Clashes occur when guiding philosophies conflict. Philosophies are also tied to an individual’s or organization’s underlying values, which values are difficult to change, unless an internal transformation occurs within an individual or an organization. Another influence of change in a given school occurs when a new administrator brings their own philosophy to the educational environment that is different than previously held beliefs. However, the overarching determinants for philosophies that drive the public education system are derived from the university or college education program. Any real or substantive transformation in public education environments typically occurs, because of changes in higher education philosophies. These philosophies are derived from the original philosophers who wrote about the philosophy and reflect a much earlier time and societal construct. In response to changing societal views

Applications
Students Teachers Administrators

Issues
Barriers to Essentialism in America’s Classrooms Barriers to Perennialism in America’s Classrooms Conclusion

Terms & Concepts Bibliography Suggested Reading

Abstract
An overview of Essentialism and Perennialism, their philosophical definitions, historical underpinnings, and their role and impacts on student learning in public school education environments is presented. Also presented is a brief overview of potential applications of Essentialism and Perennialism and their relationship to specific subjects, which are “basic subjects.” Further analyzed are ways public education has been impacted by different philoso-

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Essentialism & Perennialism

Essay by Sharon Link, Ph.D.

Keywords
Education Educational Foundations Essentialism Life-long Learning Perennialism and internal value systems governing philosophies that inspire the teacher’s relationship with the student, philosophies for many educators and institutions have changed from teacher-centered to more student-centered beliefs. Essentialism and Perennialism are two philosophical viewpoints contributing to education foundations and these are examined in this paper. Essentialism William Bagley was considered the founding philosopher of the Essentialist movement. Bagley’s philosophy of education argued that students should learn “something” in addition to the process of thinking. The philosophy also asserted that other philosophies over-emphasized the process of learning instead of content knowledge in the curriculum (Null, 2003). The movement “essentially” began with Bagley’s deeply held value that education should teach knowledge from the past, because if students were separated from past...
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