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Perennialism as a School of Philosophical Thought

This article deals about the philosophical foundation of perennialism along with its educational application and practices.

Perennialism as a School of Philosophical Thought

In the first place, perennial means permanent or immutable; something which is eternal irrespective of circumstances, such as time, place and people. Its advocates are like the Thomists, Neo-Thomists. Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler are educational advocates of this philosophical thought.

Such school of philosophical thought attaches more emphasis on the traditional view of human nature and education. It states that though environments are different and keep on changing, human nature always remains the same everywhere; therefore education should be universal for everyone in the world.

Basic principles of perennialism:

1.      The purpose of education is to pass on the knowledge of immutable truth

2.      Education is not mimicry of life, but a preparation for it.

3.      The students should learn the eternal truth

4.      The main focus is to return to the past teachings of universal truth

Perennialism argues that philosophical thoughts which adhere cultural relativism like pragmatism, progressivism and social resonstructionism have destroyed the value of education by ignoring the universal and eternal truth.  For cultural relativism truth is relative to circumstances, such as place, time and people. It means that truth is dependent on environments; it is different from place to place with the change of environment. However, for perennialism truth is universally eternal irrespective of changing environment and time.

For Perennialists, the main purpose of education is to make sure that students learn and acquire the great classical teachings and ideas of western philosophies.  Such teachings and ideas are everlasting and universally applicable everywhere and also they are   immensely important for addressing and securing any era’s social issues and problems. However, teaching such eternal truth is not an easy task, it is critical thing because it requires a perennialist curriculum and teacher. Basically human mind is rational and it can be cultivated through intellectual activities by practicing the permanent truth which is applicable wherever regardless of circumstances. The first task of perennial education is therefore to develop and cultivate a universally rational mind; it is the highest focus.  In effect, the perennialism curriculum is based on classical literature, art and natural law principles of science in order to acquire cultural literacy and students’ intellect development.

 Its educational principle in a succinct manner is as follows:

1.      Truth is eternal

2.      Sound education is the search of the eternal truth

3.      The main purpose of education is to cultivate the human intellect


The school is seen as an institution designed to cultivate human intellect by disseminating the great classical works of the western civilization. In other words, it means that the school is an agency to cultivate human rationality. The perennialists condemn anything that makes the school multipurpose like that of politics, social issues, economical, vocational training, therapeutic emotional wellness and many others. Such things divert the purpose of education and erode the eternal truth.


The classroom is the center of student’s intellectual development and cultivation; it is the same as that of idealism and realism. The perennialist teacher should be educated to pass on the great literature works and liberal arts of western civilization to the students.


The perennialism curriculum is developed based on universal and unchanging truth.. The curriculum consists of subjects such as history, science, language, mathematics, logic, literature, moral, aesthetic and religion. Therefore, the purpose of genuine education is to search and disseminate  these subjects based on the universal and immutable truth.


The Perennialist Teacher

Parennialist teacher should be

1.      Well educated in the classical works and liberal arts

2.      the  scholar and instrument of truth disseminator

3.      the director  and coach of intellect calisthenics

Teaching Methods

The main aim of the teaching methodologies is to seek and disseminate the universal truth thereby to develop and cultivate the students’ intellect.

The perennialist teacher uses the following methods of teaching accordingly:

1.      Deductive method: lecture, presentation

2.      Socratic method: question and answer

3.      Coaching

  Classroom Management

The nature of perennialism requires order and discipline. The teacher has a moral obligation to maintain a classroom discipline.


Evaluation methods are as follows:

1.      Standardized objective examination

2.      Essay examinations

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