Essentialism, Progressivism, And Philosophies Of Education

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An Introduction to the Topic Knowledge is the basis of everything. Our job as educators is to administer that knowledge; how we go about doing that is also very important. There are three philosophies of education; they are essentialism, progressivism, and critical theory. Associated with these three philosophies there are also four basic questions of each theory: What is the purpose of education? What is the content of the school curriculum? What is the role of students? What is the role of teachers? It is important to understand these three theories and the history behind them because they are used in our everyday lives as educators. Essentialism is the more traditional route of teaching and throughout history has reappeared while other theories are created and eventually…show more content…
Progressivism emerged in the early 1900’s with John Dewey as its philosophical founder. Progressivism, unlike essentialism bases its beliefs far from your typical classroom setting. John Dewey wanted to unchain the desks that bind the students to the classroom and allow students to learn their education as they interact with their environment. Emerged in the 1970’s was the third philosophy of education, critical theory. Critical theory is known as the radical end of progressivism. Critical theorists, such as Henry Giroux and Jonathan Kozol, sought to create the classroom to be a place where teachers and students could negotiate on what the curriculum should be and what they should learn that day. Although all individually unique from one another, each of these philosophies have historical value and play a huge role in today’s system of education. Historical Overview Understanding these three forms of teaching is everything in the realm of education. Essentialism became coined by traditionalists in the 1930’s, but has record dating as far back as the 1800’s. Standards were created and so the need to monitor and record these standards arose as well with standardized testing.

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