Meghan Allum and Stacie Sanders


Essentialism is the understanding that any entity has properties that are necessary for it to function and exist. In short, every thing can be defined. Whether it be a person, an animal, a place or a concept, They all have characteristics that can describe them.

The Facts

-Essentialism was based on Idealism and Realism

- Focused mainly on the 3 R's and Essential subjects (English, Science, History, Math and foreign languages)

- The Educational aim was to promote intellectual growth of individuals.

- The teacher was an authority figure, treated with high standards.

Essentialism vs Education

Hyman Rickover stated "For all children, the educational process must be one of collecting factual knowledge to the limit of their absorptive capacity." He also believed that taking into account the interests of the students or how it affects them socially was a waste of time.

"They emphasize mastering the skills, facts and concepts that form the basis of the subject matter." (Orstein, 36)

Teachers were responsible for all of the curricular decisions with little student input.

He did not believe that the word "fun" should be included in any classroom. Students needed to work hard to achieve the knowledge that was expected of them.

Teachers are seen as exemplary models and are masters of their specific subjects. Students are to look up to their educators and follow in their footsteps.

Teachers hold their students to high standards and expect their students to respect them.

Essentialism is still seen in today's world, as recently as in the No Child Left Behind Act.

Essentialism isn't as popular now as it was in the 1950's but it still emphasizes academics and cognitive thinking.


Overall, we believe that Essentialism isn't as common in today's classrooms because of it's central concentration on academics alone. We agree that academics are important but you need to consider the student's as a whole and understand their specific needs. Children were built to have fun, so to take that side out of their education would make them want to learn less. Learning can be fun and we believe that today's education system really emphasizes that learning is about the students and not about the teachers anymore.