Last issue, I have defined what hidden curriculum is and how it is different with what we traditionally accept as our formal curriculum in schools; that hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten rules that we consciously or unconsciously learn out of education and that while we may be blinded with the seemingly extrinsic gains we believe, it, in fact, has unconstructive implications not only to the growth of the individual but with his interaction with the people around him and with the environment he’s in. I have included Nancy King and Michael Apple’s “What Do Schools Teach?” In this article, the authors claimed that there exists already an unequal and stratified social order even in the kindergarteners. The promotion of a rather static framework of institutions started even as early as the critical stage of development of a person, during the kindergarten years. Thus, the reason why and how individuals behave and treat the society when they mature.
A continuation of the subject matter is an article written by Jane Martin titled “What Should We Do with a Hidden Curriculum When We Find One?”
In this article, Martin identified two sorts of hiddenness: “Something can be hidden in the sense of which a cure for cancer is hidden or in the sense in which a penny in the game Hide the Penny is hidden.” Is the curriculum yet to be discovered or has it been hidden by someone? Martin also noted that a curriculum can be revealed to some, while remaining hidden to others: “Until learning states are acknowledged or the learners are aware of them, however, they remain hidden even if sociologists, bureaucrats, and teachers are all aware of them. Thus a hidden curriculum can be found yet remain hidden, for finding is one thing and telling is another”
Now, what then can we do with a hidden curriculum once we have found it? The author posited four alternatives: First, we can do nothing. This may seem to be the alternative of despair, but that is not necessarily the case, for there may be some hidden curricula, or elements thereof, with respect to which we are neutral – we do not positively value them but we do not consider them undesirable either. Thus, doing nothing is a reasonable alternative. Second, we can change our practices, procedures, environments, rules, and the like in an effort to root out those learning states we consider undesirable. The radical school-reform movement known as open education has tried to do just this. Third, instead of changing the setting, we can simply abolish it. This is an alternative for those in the deschooling movement, though abolition is not a simple matter. Finally, it is always possible that we will want to embrace rather than abolish the hidden curriculum we find.
To conclude, the significance of the question is a function of the quality of the hidden curriculum we find. If the hidden curriculum is harmless, then what we do with it will not matter very much. It is when the one we find is not harmless – when it instill beliefs, attitudes, values, or patterns of behavior in which are undesirable – that our question takes on urgency. And it becomes more urgent the more undesirable the learning states are.
More on hidden curriculum next ish…