The Essentialist education philosophy maintains that schools and instructors should strive to instill traditional intellectual and moral values in students and focus mainly on the "essential" academic subjects (such as reading, history, math, natural science, or writing). It's goal is to ensure that collective wisdom and academic knowledge is passed systematically from teacher to student in an effort to prepare students to be productive members of society.

Essentialism is a teacher-centered philosophy, emphasizing the instructor as the authority on everything that occurs in the course and the students as passive participants. Essentialists believe that students should be taught hard work, discipline, and respect for rules.



Major Players

William Bagley

Arthur Bestor

E.D. Hirsch


Roll over the image to read about an example of essentialism.