Teacher-Centered Philosophies: Everything You Need to Know

Teacher-driven philosophies include philosophies about education that emphasize and support the teacher’s role in education as being the most important one. They are vital for the longevity of education and the sustained influence of teachers in the classroom. Such philosophies involve the transfer of knowledge from one generation of teachers to the next. In teacher-centered philosophies, the teacher’s responsibility is to impart determination, compassion for others, respect for authority, a strong work ethic, and sensibility. Teachers and schools are successful when students prove, usually by taking tests, that they have mastered the intended learning objectives.

Essentialism and perennialism are two good examples of teacher-centered philosophies. Essentialism stresses core knowledge in writing, reading, science, math, technology, foreign language, and history. The tools include memorization, lecturing, practice, repetition, and assessment. Today, U.S. public schools have essentialism as a standard model. In an essentialist school, a typical day might have seven periods, where every period makes the students attend a different class. The teachers teach primarily by conducting lectures, during which students are likely to take notes. Then, the students are given practice worksheets or provided with hands-on projects. This is followed by an evaluation of the learning material covered during the entire process. This routine continues for a semester or a year. When the students’ test results show adequate competence, they are promoted to the next class or grade to learn more complex material.

Perennialism is called “culturally conservative,” at times, because it doesn’t integrate multiculturalism, challenge gender stereotypes, or advocate and expose students to technology, as would be expected of contemporary literature. According to perennialists, education should symbolize a prepared effort to make ideas available to students that encourage them to think critically and rationally. It should also direct their thought processes toward the understanding and appreciation of the great works by history’s finest thinkers that surpass time and never become obsolete.

Perennialism is mainly concerned with the significance of mastery of the content and the development of reasoning skills. The perennialists’ viewpoint on education is aptly reflected by the adage that says the more things alter, the more they remain the same. In a perennilaist classroom, skills are developed in a sequential way. For instance, reading, speaking, listening, and writing are focused upon in the early grades to get students in later grades ready to study history, literature, and philosophy.

For teachers, understanding essentialism will help them know and improve their basic teaching skills, while perennialism will let them continue operating in the success of concepts, methods, and best practices that have been used in education over time.

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