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  1. PERENNIALISM Cantessa Puckett EDU 513

  2. What is Perennialism • Comes from the word perennial meaning everlasting. • A very conservative and inflexible philosophy of education. • A teacher-centered philosophy that emphasizes the importance of transferring knowledge, information, and skills from the older (presumably wiser) generation to the younger one. • Perennialism says since people are human, one should teach first about humans, not machines or techniques.

  3. Two kinds of Perennialism in Education • Secular Perennialism – the word perennial suggests something that lasts for an indefinite long time, recurs again and again, or is self-renewing. • Perennialism is learning to reason • Advocates using original work in education • Comprises the humanist and scientific traditions • Formulated in the 20th century by Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler

  4. Two kinds of Perennialism in Education • Religious Perennialism – focuses on the personal development of the student, and says that all learning could not come from within. • First developed by Thomas Aquinas • Religious Perennialism continues to shape the nature of Catholic schools throughout the world

  5. General Principles of Perennialism • Permanence is more real than change • Human nature remains essentially the same no matter the culture • The good life-the life that is fit for man/woman to live-remains essentially the same • Moral principles remain essentially the same • Education that men/women receive should remain essentially the same

  6. People of Perennialism • Robert Hutchins • Perennialist educator who strongly believed in having traditional liberal arts in all schools • Introduced the Great Books program • Wanted NO extracurricular activities in schools…said they were irrelevant to the learning process • Stated that textbooks “have probably done as much to degrade the American intelligence as any single force.” • Professor and Dean at Yale Law School

  7. People of Perennialism • Mortimer Adler • Helped Hutchins organize the Great Books program • Proposed a single elementary and secondary curriculum for all students, with no curricular electives except the choice of a second language • Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University

  8. Perennialism in the Classroom • Students spend most of their time mastering the three “Rs”- reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic • Greatest importance placed on reading • Teach values and character training through discussions about underlying values and moral principles in stories • Only elective is the choice of second language

  9. Perennialism in the Classroom continued… • Few, if any, textbooks • Schools are organized around books, ideas, and concepts • Teach from the Great Books-works by history’s finest thinkers and writers • Teachers do not lecture but lead and facilitate discussions

  10. Perennialism in the Classroom Continued… • Role of the Teacher • Teach time-honored classics • Lifelong Learner • Discussion Leader…Not Lecturer • Role of the Student • Active Thinker/Learner

  11. Perennialism in the Classroom continued… • Teaching Tools • Standardized Tests • Teacher-made tests • Memorization • Classic Books • Classroom Management • Orderly rows • Neat/Clean room • Strict rules • Punishment/Rewards

  12. Does Perennialism Still Exist?? • Perennialism was started in the 1930s • Perennialism IS still around • St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland • Adopted the Great Books as a core curriculum in 1937 • Readings in Literature, Philosophy, Theology, History, Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Music • Students write extensively and attend weekly seminars to discuss assigned readings

  13. More on St. John’s College • Grades are given but students only receive their grades upon request • Expected to learn for learning’s sake • Thrives in small-group atmosphere • 2nd campus opened in 1964 in Santa Fe, New Mexico

  14. How Perennialism fits with Content Standards • • The high school reading standards sound very similar to the ideas of Perennialism.

  15. ??? About Perennialism • With this philosophy, what happens to the students who are poor readers or who do not like to read? Are we setting them up for failure? • Research showed that religious schools use the Perennialism philosophy…why? • Are electives really not important? • How can teachers teach all subjects without the use of textbooks?

  16. References • • • Ediger, M. (1997). Influence of ten leading educators of American education. Education, 118(2), 267. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. • Perennialism (2003). Retrieved from • Sadker, D., Zittleman, K. Teachers, Schools, and Society: A Brief Introduction to Education. p.200-207. Retrieved from