Essentialism tries to instill all students with the most essential or basic academic knowledge and skills and character development. Essentialists believe that teachers should try to embed traditional moral values and virtues such as respect for authority, perseverance, fidelity to duty, consideration for others, and practicality and intellectual knowledge that students need to become model citizens. The foundation of essentialist curriculum is based on traditional disciplines such as math, natural science, history, foreign language, and literature. Essentialists frown upon vocational courses. In the essentialist system, students are required to master a set body of information and basic techniques for their grade level before they are promoted to the next higher grade. The content gradually moves towards more complex skills and detailed knowledge. Essentialists argue that classrooms should be teacher-oriented. The teacher should serve as an intellectual and moral role model for the students. The teachers or administrators decide what is most important for the students to learn with little regard to the student interests. The teachers also focus on achievement test scores as a means of evaluating progress. The essentialist classroom is centered on students being taught about the people, events, ideas, and institutions that have shaped American society. Essentialists hope that when students leave school, they will not only possess basic knowledge and skills, but they will also have disciplined, practical minds, capable of applying lessons learned in school in the real world. Essentialism is different from what Dewey would like to see in the schools. Students in this system would sit in rows and be taught in masses. The students would learn passively by sitting in their desks and listening to the teacher. An example of essentialism would be lecture based introduction classes taught at universities. Students sit and take notes in a classroom which holds over one hundred students. They take introductory level courses in order to introduce them to the content. After they have completed this course, they will take the next level course and apply what they have learned previously. English 101 and English 102 are a specific example of essentialism.

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