Some widely recognized basic philosophies of education include essentialism, perennialism, progressivism and reconstructivism. Each of these philosophies center on what should be taught to students. Some less-often discussed theories include realism, idealism and existentialism.
Essentialism focuses on teaching students discipline and core skills, including reading, writing, speaking and computation. Perennialism uses conservative methods to teach students the foundations of Western civilization. Progressivism encourages students to learn through active interaction with the world around them, using student's questions and interests to drive lessons. Reconstructivism uses education as a vehicle for social activism by giving students understanding and experience in problems such as violence and famine, and in social injustices such as racism and sexism.