Educational Perennialism

Simple Definitions of Educational Perennialism

Educational Perennialism is a teaching idea that says there are some lessons about being human that haven’t changed in a long time. It’s about teaching these timeless truths that help us make sense of the world and our place in it. Think of it as using a trusted recipe to bake a cake, instead of creating a new recipe each time.

Perennialism is also like using an old, reliable map to find treasure. It tells us to learn from books that have been read for hundreds of years and to focus on subjects like math and science that teach us things we’ll always need to know.

Examples of Educational Perennialism

  • Reading Classic Literature: When students read old books by famous authors like Shakespeare, they explore themes like love and courage that everyone, at any time, might go through. This is Perennialism because these stories have been important for a long time.
  • Studying Ancient Philosophers: Discussing ideas from smart thinkers like Plato teaches us about big life questions that people have asked forever. This is an example because these thoughts are part of the lasting knowledge Perennialism values.
  • Focusing on Core Subjects: Math, science, and history, are taught because they give skills and knowledge that humans have always found useful, like figuring out problems. This focus is core to Perennialism because it’s about what always matters in education.

Why is it Important?

Perennialism is important because it’s not about learning something that will be forgotten next year; it’s about understanding big ideas that will always help us make sense of our lives and the choices we make.

It helps us grow into wise and kind-hearted people who can make the world better. It connects us to people from long ago, showing that people have always had similar challenges and joys. For example, learning about how past societies were organized gives us insights into our own communities.

Additionally, by focusing on classic texts and moral lessons, Perennialism prepares students to be thoughtful adults who can understand and improve society. It matters to everyone because the wisdom it teaches is useful in everyday decisions, like how to be a good friend or how to solve a tricky problem at school or at home.


Perennialism started with Ancient Greek thinkers such as Socrates and continued with scholars like St. Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages. In the 20th century, thinkers like Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler revived these traditions, arguing for a timeless form of education.


Some people question Perennialism, arguing it might ignore new knowledge and diverse perspectives. Others worry that it might seem boring if it doesn’t connect with students’ interests in current events or technologies.

Additional Points within Educational Perennialism

Focus on Moral Education

Perennialism also deals with values like what’s right and how to live well with others, teaching students about ethics and compassion.

Teacher’s Role

In Perennialism, teachers are mentors who encourage deep thinking and exploration rather than just passing on information.

Role of Discussion

Discussion is key in a Perennialist classroom. Students talk about their learning deeply, ensuring they understand and genuinely think about what they are learning.

Related Topics with Explanations

  • Classical Education: Similar to Perennialism, it focuses on historical lessons but includes specific stages of learning and often the study of old languages like Latin.
  • Progressive Education: This style favors modern and relevant learning, student experiences, and current issues, contrasting with Perennialism’s focus on everlasting knowledge.

In Conclusion

Educational Perennialism guides us to value wisdom from the past, helping us understand timeless ideas and how to be compassionate, wise decision-makers. It underlines the importance of learning big concepts that have stood the test of time and remains a central topic in debates on the best educational approaches.

While there are different opinions on how to best educate, Perennialism offers an approach focused on enduring truths, aiming to develop individuals who are insightful, caring, and able to contribute positively to society, making it a significant perspective in the field of education.