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Perennialism: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples

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  • 0:01 Perennialism
  • 0:52 Evergreen Ideas
  • 2:40 The Great Conversation
  • 5:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What should schools focus their curricula on? In this lesson, we'll examine perennialism, the philosophy of education that proposes that schools should focus on the classics and evergreen ideas, and we'll examine how teachers can design curricula based on this concept.

Perennialism

Sita is very excited. She's a teacher, and her principal has just asked her to plan her school's curriculum for next school year. It's a great honor; it shows that her principal has faith that Sita knows what should be taught!

But what, exactly, should Sita choose for the curriculum? Some people believe that the school should be teaching the classics, like Shakespeare and Darwin. Others think it's important to look at newer, less classic figures and learn from them.

Perennialism in education is the idea that school curricula should focus on what is everlasting. You can remember the word 'perennialism' by remembering that perennial means lasting for many years. Thus, perennialism is focused on things that have lasted for many years.

Let's look closer at perennialism and how Sita might use it in her curriculum planning.

Evergreen Ideas

One of the cornerstones of perennialism is the concept of evergreen ideas, or philosophies that last through many generations. Think of the old adage, 'All's fair in love and war.' Whether you believe that it's true or not, it's been around a long time, and many people have explored it in different ways.

To create a perennialist curriculum, Sita will want to focus on evergreen ideas and avoid fads and other new ideas. In other words, she'll want to stick with what's tried and true. The way that an evergreen lasts all year round (and for many, many years), evergreen ideas last a long time and are applicable to many people through many generations.

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