Bestor's Essentialism And The Philosophy Of Essentialism

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Essentialism sees the primary function of the school as the preservation and transmission of the basic elements of human culture. It emphasizes (1) a return to systematic subjects, (2) learning as the mastery of basic skills and knowledge, (3) the teacher as a mature representative of the culture and someone who is competent in both subject matter and instruction, (4) education as preparation for work and citizenship, and (5) the preservation of the school's academic function. Above all, Essentialists oppose catering to childish whims or to transitory fads that will cause schools to degenerate into mindless and irrelevant institutions.
Essentialism shares many themes with the more traditional philosophies of Idealism, Realism,
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The U.S. Office of Education in 1951 estimated that 60% of secondary school youth would need life-adjustment training.
In his book, The Restoration of Learning, Bestor discussed eight principles that formed the core of his beliefs regarding education:
1. The main function of education is to train the mind in the intellectual disciplines such as history, science, mathematics, literature, language, art, etc. While schools should advance moral conduct, responsible citizenship, and social adjustment (much like other agencies which contribute to these ends), it must do so within its primary context, i.e., as an agent of intellectual training.
2. The ability to make use of knowledge, handle complex ideas, and be able to express them effectively is valuable to all, not just to the scholar or the scientist.
3. Training in the intellectual disciplines is appropriate for all, and it is anti-intellectual and undemocratic to deprive children of this training. Lack of intellectual and cultural background should not be confused with lack of mental
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public schools and a concern that U.S. education is lagging behind compared to other countries. The main arguments of Essentialism against current (Progressive) educational trends is that "open" and permissive methodologies have contributed to functional illiteracy in students, and that the same air of permissiveness have resulted in students who are not versed in the fundamental values of hard work, morality, and patriotism. The revival was spurred by efforts from various sectors, including the Council for Basic Education, parents, and not least, the Reagan administration, whose Department of Education published A Nation at Risk, calling for a return to more rigorous academic standards (Gutek,

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