School of Thoughts of the Essentialist Philosophers on the Aims of Education, Role of Education and the Focus of Education: Implications for Curriculum Development and Practice in Ghana

Andrews Acquah, Augustine Adjei, Jonathan Kwame Mensah


The aim of this paper is to discuss comprehensively the school of thoughts of the essentialist philosopher on the aims of education, the role of education and the focus of education. Again, the discussion would pay attention to examine the implications of the essentialism to curriculum development and practice. In this philosophical school of thought, the aim is to instill students with the “essentials” which means the “main things” of academic knowledge, enacting a back-to-basics approach. Essentialists believe that there is a common core of knowledge that needs to be transmitted to students in a systematic, disciplined way. From the Essentialist point of view, the aim of education is to equip students with common core or the “basic” of information and skills needed for the promotion of citizenship. According to the Essentialist, the role of education is the transition of a common body of knowledge, skills, concepts and traditions from generation to learners in order to transform them to meaningfully and constructively contribute democratically to the society. The essentialist focus on intellectual training in the areas of grammar, literature and writing, mathematics, sciences, history and modern foreign language. On the implication for curriculum development and practice, the essentialist places emphasis on core curriculum, the curriculum is developed around the teacher rather than the learner, the mastery of content matter of an essential knowledge as a yardstick before moving on to the next level, placing less emphasis on non-academic subjects such as; Vocational education, Physical Education, Arts and Music and eventually ensuring that the curriculum focuses on grouping students according to their intellectual ability.

Keywords: curriculum, curriculum development, essentialist, essentialism, social values

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