2. Theories of Education
Educational theories can be divided into two main groups
Conservative theories can be divided into Perennialism and Essentialism
Progressive theories can be divided into progressivism and Reconstructionism
Conservative philosophies present conservative and traditional views of human
Progressive philosophies or theories focus on the modern and innovative views of
human and education
Main propagators of this theory are Robert Hutchins, Alfred Adler and Jacques Maritain
It presents a conservative or traditional view of human and education
The perennialists are afraid of variation and modernization
This theory is based on the ancient statement “Truth is that which is not variable and basic
realities never change”.
The perrenialists believe that education should be based on the realities discovered by great
philosophers of the past.
It is a conservative outlook towards education
5. Key Points
Truth is constant not variable and basic realities never change
Basic realities are discovered by great philosophers and human should be
benefited from them
Education should be based on these great and unchangeable ideas and not should
be based on unripe and new thoughts
Perennialists prefer the idea or concept on practice
The supporters of this philosophy is of the view that natural world and human
nature remained unchanged over the centuries. Therefore, focus should be
remained on great ideas which have the potential to solve the problems of any era.
The focus is on the development and cultivation of intellectual abilities, which
differentiate humans from animals
6. Basic Principles of Perrenialsm
As human nature remains constant, therefore, uniform education should be given
to each nation of the world. (Uniformity of Education)
Education is preparation of life and it is not totally copying it
Imparting eternal realities are the obligation of education and these realities are
found in the masterpieces of great philosophers
Reason and argumentation should be used for ones own guidance and these should
be used in identifying the goals
Discipline provides freedom of thought is comparatively studied more
7. Aims of Education in Perrenialism
The aim of education is to sharpen the mind and shine the wisdom and reasoning power of the
child. Reason is responsible to differentiate between right and wrong, legal and illegal. If an
individual sharpen the nail of reason, he would be able to find solution to any problem faced by
him in future life.
Students should acquire the knowledge of un-changing, everlasting, evergreen ideas or facts or
principles of early philosophers.
It does not aim at the practical aspect. The child should be educated theoretically and not
practically. When once he acquires theoretical knowledge and becomes theoretically a learned
person he himself will be able to find a practical solution to every problem faced by him.
That is why perrenialists do not want any change to be brought about in the old curriculum based
on the facts of the great philosophers of the past.
They are not in the favour of including any practical problem or its solution in curriculum.
They only believe in the theoretical aspect of education.
8. Perennialism and Curriculum
Robert Hutchins and Adler have collected more than hundred famous classics (books) from Plato to Einstein
and give very useful suggestions for the educational curriculum. They presented the following three
assumptions as foundation for every curriculum:
Education must promote human kind, continuous search for truth, as truth is universal and timeless
(everlasting or evergreen).
The cultivation of intellectual/rationality/reasoning faculties are the essential foundation of education. Because
by using intellect we can found the truth as it is hidden in human mind.
Education should stimulate students to think critically, thoughtfully and realistically about great ideas.
Apart from that, students should be given knowledge in both arts and sciences which should stress on the
Students should be taught certain basic subjects that will acquaintance them with the permanency of the
Languages, history, mathematics, natural sciences, philosophy, fine arts (music) and humanities should be
taught to students.
Seven liberal arts and sciences, the great books of Western civilization
Instruction that features transmission and reflection on enduring truths and values
9. What is Essentialism?
Deeply related to perrenialism
The essentialism seeks guidance from the past, but essentialists are not so much conservative to
die for each tradition of ancient era and consider the oldest instructions only to be mentionable.
They love the useful and time tested culture heritage of near past.
All those educational tradition which could not go with time, rejected or unheard after the
passage of time, should be ignored.
Those educational traditions which are dynamically living, they should be sustained.
Only the useful and stable heritage may be adopted.
Rooted in idealism and realism
William Bagely, Masson, Kandel, Bastor were the chief exponents of this philosophy
To develop basic skills of literacy and numeracy and subject matter knowledge
Basic skills, essential subject matter, history, mathematics, language, science, computer literacy
To prepare competent and skilled individuals for the competitive global economy
10. Aims of Education
Essentialism establishes the school’s primary function as maintaining the basic
elements of human culture by transmitting them to students as skills and subjects in a
William C. Bagley (1872–1946), a leading essentialist professor of education, stated
that schools should provide all students with the knowledge they need to function in a
democratic society. Failure to transmit these necessary skills and subjects puts
civilization in peril.
This essential knowledge includes the skills of literacy (reading and writing) and
computation (arithmetic) and the subjects of history, mathematics, science, languages,
They stress that these essential knowledge and skills that every productive member of
our society needs they should know.
According to them school should be practical and provide children with sound
instruction that prepare them to live successfully.
11. Curriculum and Essentialism
Careful structuring requires the curriculum to be sequential and cumulative.
It is sequential when lower-order skills generate and lead to more complex higher-order ones.
It is cumulative when what is learned at a lower grade level leads to and is added to by
knowledge in succeeding grades or levels.
School teachers must be able to transmit skills and subjects efficiently and effectively to students.
Teachers can competently organize skills and subjects into units that are appropriate to students’
age and ability levels.
Curriculum of elementary level consists of core skills (Literacy and numeracy skills) like
reading, writing and arithmetic. These skills will help students to communicate clearly and
Curriculum of secondary level consist of academic subjects in arts and sciences. Mastering these
skills and subjects prepare the students to function as a member of civilized society.
They advocate the hard sciences, technical and vocational courses as the true essentials, that
students need in order to contribute to the society.
According to them school should provide special programmes for talented students whose need
are not met by the common curriculum.
12. Progressivism (Rooted in Pragmatism)
To educate the individual according to his or her interests and needs
Curriculum should consists of Activities and projects
Instruction that features problem solving and group activities; teacher acts as a
John Dewey, Kilpatrick, Parker, Johnson were the key exponents of progressivism
Opposed to traditional schooling, progressive educators designed a variety of
strategies to reform education. Although it is often associated with John Dewey’s
experimentalism, the progressive education movement wove together diverse
strands. While child centered progressives wanted to liberate children from
authoritarian schools, social re-constructionists wanted to use schools to reform
Whereas some progressives sought to use education for social reform, other
progressives, especially administrators, concentrated on making schools more
efficient and cost effective. Administrative progressives sought to build larger
schools that could house more class sections and create more curriculum diversity.
Arising as a revolt against traditional schools, Progressive education opposes
Essentialism and Perennialism. Educators such as Marietta Johnson, William H.
Kilpatrick, and G. Stanley Hall rebelled against, rote memorization and
authoritarian classroom management.
The Progressive Education Association opposed (1) authoritarian teachers, (2)
exclusively book-based instruction, (3) passive memorization of factual
information, (4) the isolation of schools from society, and (5) using physical or
psychological coercion to manage classrooms. These progressive educators
positively affirmed that (1) the child should be free to develop naturally; (2)
interest, motivated by direct experience, is the best stimulus for learning; (3) the
teacher should facilitate learning; (4) close cooperation is essential between the
school and the home; and (5) the progressive school should be a laboratory for
Opposing the conventional subject-matter curriculum, progressives experimented
with alternative curricula, using activities, experiences, problem solving, and
projects. Child-centered progressive teachers sought to free children from
conventional restraints and repression. More socially oriented progressives, called
social reconstructionists, sought to make schools centers of larger social reforms.
Led by George Counts and Harold Rugg, the social reconstructionists believed
that teachers and schools need to investigate and deliberately work to solve social,
political, and economic problems. In many ways, social reconstructionism
anticipated critical theory, discussed in the next section of this chapter.
Social re-constructionists, sought to make schools centers of larger social reforms. Led by George Counts
and Harold Rugg, the social re-constructionists believed that teachers and schools need to investigate and
deliberately work to solve social, political, and economic problems.
Theodore Brameld, known as the founder of Re-constructionism, presented this theory in a more detailed and
organized form. He based his philosophy on two fundamental points:
We live in a period of great crises due to many factors and the fact that the humans have the capability of
destroying civilization over night.
Human kind also has the intellectual, moral and technological potential to create a better world, civilization
of abundance, health and human capacity.
According to re-constructionists, the school should become the primary agent for planning and directing
School should not only transmit the knowledge about the existing social order, rather it should make effort to
reconstruct it as well.
17. Basic Principles of Re-constructionism
The education should undertake the experimentation of new social system
immediately. It will fulfill the basic values of our culture and at the same time
harmonize with underlying social and economic forces of the modern world.
The society must be a democratic one in the real sense. The major institutions and
resources of this new society are controlled by the people.
The thoughts and actions of an individual bears the colour of their societies. An
agriculturist, an industrialist, capitalistic, socialistic societies and the Islamic
society are to colour their individual in their own nature.
The teacher may convince the students about the need of the Reconstuctionism.
He may express his own point of view but should not try to impose it on them.
The means and ends of education must be completely refashioned to meet the
demands of the present, cultural crises and to accord with a findings of the
18. Aims of Education and Re-constructionism
The basic of re-constructionism is to give students insight the problems and
structure of the society.
Idea of promoting change in is the aim of education. In other words, the idea
of promoting change is based on the notion that individuals and society can
be made better.
The idea of fostering word community, brotherhood, and democracy is the
aim of these three qualities are three ideals that reconstructionists believe in
and desire to implement in school and society.
Teacher is an active member of society. He has to play guiding role and takes
interest in social problems and consciously prepares the student for social
change and revolution.
19. Re-constructionist Curriculum
The curriculum is concerned with society. Its basic aim is to give students insight into the problems and structure of
the society. Through this approach to education, students would learn appropriate methods for dealing with the main
crises of the world i.e. war, depression, international terrorism, hunger, drug abuse, inflation and ever increasing
To make the systematic adjustments to changing conditions revolutionary steps are proposed by re-constructionists.
By devising the present educational techniques, they emphasise on human resource development and a very effective
institutional framework which may build society afresh.
Hence, it is imperative to have a team of qualified and trained manpower for the development of indigenous
capability, rather than teaching out-dated curriculum. School should prepare youngsters to reconstruct their society to
the changing conditions, to remain ahead in emerging situation.
The central figure is the collective affairs of the society.
It will allow students to have firsthand experiences in reform activities.
The curriculum should be based upon a continuous efforts for a better society.
The logical outcome of reconstructional experiences will be democracy, peace, and minimization of destruction
through the intelligent application of present knowledge.
Problem solving, practical application, theoretical knowledge, project method are the main teaching strategies.