Hidden Curriculum: Everything You Need to Know

This refers to a silent agreement of views that enables the prevalence and growth of the dominant class. The hidden curriculum starts early in a student’s life, as the little ones often unintentionally pick up perspectives, behaviors, and attitudes while they are is at school. Additionally, students learn to form ideas and opinions about their classmates and their surrounding settings. For instance, students learn ‘suitable’ ways to act at school, which means they take up actions and behaviors that will make them popular with their peers and teachers. They also learn what’s expected of them. This could mean, for example, understanding the fact that test scores at the end of the year are what really matter. Though these ideas and attitudes aren’t taught in any formal way, the students take them up and internalize them through normal observation and participation in classroom and social activities.

In schools, hidden curriculum molds the perspectives of students dealing with a wide variety of issues. These include morals, gender, stereotypes, politics, social class, language, and cultural expectations. Gender roles, for instance, become very evident in early grades when socializing becomes segregated into girls and boys. Several books at this young age also support the concept of gender separation, which, in turn, promotes these norms in the early years. A clear example of hidden curriculum was the importance given to boys’ athletics before Title IX came into existence, after which several school districts strived to have a greater balance for boys’ and  girls’ teams.

Even within a school’s formal curriculum, one can often spot the hidden curriculum. Suppose, if an English class just assigns stories set in the United States or reading materials with Caucasian main characters, it may teach students that their school systems don’t welcome other cultures and languages. This can give rise to a dislike for reading or a negative self-image.

Typically, hidden curriculum is one-sided and reflects the beliefs and attitudes of the dominant class. Perhaps that’s why the critical theory proposes that in order to reduce the effect of the hidden curriculum and its effects on the subordinate classes, schools should use textbooks that have an objective perspective concerning views that maintain the hold of the dominant class.

It also suggests that teachers should not just force-feed children with views that are popularly accepted. Instead, they should allow the children to have their own interpretation of political, economic, and social matters based on their knowledge.

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