The #1 Rule of Curriculum is: You Don’t Talk about the Scary, Dark, Hidden Curriculum!

Hidden curriculum, what in God’s name is that? I thought I had my curriculum all figured out and then…! What the hell?!

Don’t panic!

Hidden curriculum is most likely something you are already doing and have no idea that’s what it is called. I remember taking my master’s classes in curriculum and instruction and my professor started rambling on and on about this hidden curriculum concept, and I sat there with this feeling of unease and fear!

My fear was that I wasn’t doing it right!

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Hidden curriculum simply encompasses unwritten and often unintended lessons, values, biases, and perspectives that students learn and unwittingly get taught in school. Hidden curriculum is often unspoken and can include both social and cultural messages. So…what does the hidden curriculum look like? 

It is not uncommon for peers to influence each other when it comes to either enhancing or diminishing learning opportunities. Peers can persuade each other’s motivation to participate in class, learn without fear and failure, and feel valued in the classroom. Students learn early on to either step outside of their comfort zone and take risks or not. They understand how to participate in social situations just by watching their classmates. These behaviors are not taught in the curriculum, they are observed.

The way in which a school recognizes cultural diversity can convey a hidden message. Schools may choose to invite families to share stories about their culture and actively celebrate their differences. These events, can help the school and its community understand and become more familiar with other cultures. On the other hand, if students notice that negative cultural messages are tolerated in school, they will be more likely to behave in a way that does not encourage cultural equality.

Can you pinpoint what’s included in your hidden curriculum? Are we paying attention to the way in which we structure our classrooms to minimize the effects of the hidden curriculum? Simply acknowledging and paying attention to how we portray social and cultural messages is a start to conquer the hidden curriculum.

 

 

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