Last week’s issue, an important criticism was raised: what should we do with a hidden curriculum when we find one? The sociologist Jane Martin suggested four alternatives: to do nothing about it, to change one’s practices, procedures, environments, rules, and the like in an effort to root out those learning states one considers undesirable, to simply abolish it, or to embrace rather than abolish 1the hidden curriculum one finds.
Another important understanding that one critic should dare not forget is that of Jean Anyon’s Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum. Here, it is exposed that social stratification starts, in fact, while an individual is in school.
Anyon observed five elementary schools over the course of a full school year and concluded that fifth-graders of different economic backgrounds are already being prepared to occupy particular rungs on the social ladder. In a sense, some whole schools are on the vocational education track, while others are geared to produce future doctors, lawyers, and business leaders.
Thus, it’s no surprise that schools in wealthy communities are better than those in poor communities, or that they better prepare their students for desirable jobs. It may be shocking, however, to learn how vast the differences in schools are – not so much in resources as in teaching methods and philosophies of education.
Moreover, Maxine Greene, another advocate in the exposition of the hidden curriculum wrote an article titled, “Curriculum and Consciousness.” Here, Green said that curriculum, from the learner’s standpoint, ordinarily represents little more than an arrangement of subjects, a structure of socially prescribed knowledge, or a complex system of meanings which may or may not fall within his grasp, that is ‘knowing is a moment of praxis,’ opening into ‘what has not yet been.’ Preoccupied with priorities, purposes, programs of ‘intended learning’ and intended (or unintended) manipulation, one pays too little attention to the individual in quest of his own future, bent on surpassing what is merely ‘given,’ on breaking through the everyday.
Thus, coming up with a realization that the school is still too prone to dichotomize: to think of ‘disciplines’ or ‘public traditions’ or ‘accumulated wisdom’ or ‘common culture’ (individualization despite) as objectively existent, external to the knower—there to be discovered, mastered, learned.