The Hidden Curriculum The hidden curriculum is a well-recognised element of education. The term is often accredited to Philip W. Jackson as it was first coined in his publication “Life in classrooms” (1968) however the theory had been present in education for some time before, philosopher John Dewey had experimented with the idea in some of his early 20th century works. It deals with the covert area of curriculum. This piece will first and foremost explore the idea of curriculum beyond subjects and syllabus, over time, and furthermore look into the impact of teacher-student relationships on evelopment and achievement.
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Understanding the curriculum Explicit Curriculum In order to gain further insight into the hidden curriculum, it is crucial to define and bbreakdown the curriculum and understand the relationship between the various components. The first part of the curriculum, which is arguably the most important, is the Explicit curriculum (Eisner, 1985), this is the set of documents outlining the course of subjects, (including their content) which are offered within an educational institution.
It is a body of knowledge which can be transmitted and in this respect, is een to be a product, which is planned ahead for, with set objectives. Defining curriculum has always been a topic of discussion, particularly when dealing with the applying it to practice. The current definitions are heavily subjective and relate to traditional schooling, thus making it difficult to apply to non-traditional types of formal education. One major concern which arises when defining curriculum is that it is often confounded with syllabus.
The syllabus is purely the contents of a series of lectures designed to prepare for formal education, it is generally provided by the xamination board while the curriculum on the other hand, is set out by the government. The Null The second concept of curricula is the “null” (Eisner, 1985) this is the area which ideally includes what is not taught, Eisner further elaborates : … the options sstudents are not afforded the perspectives they may never know about, much less be able to use, the concepts and the skills that are not part of their intellectual repertoire (1985: 107).
The null curriculum draws to our attention, the equal relevance of both what is omitted as well as what is iincluded in the curriculum. While it is true that it is impossible to teach everything within the curriculum, curricularists are faced with the difficult task of spreading the load in an equal and economical manner. The Implicit The third part of curricula is the implicit, more commonly known as the hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is the theory that there is an agenda outside of the taught subjects.
The hidden curriculum deals with the values, beliefs and attitudes which are transpired either through the main curriculum or through the objectives of the institution. The curriculum and Society The curriculum is overt and open to the public; issues concerning the curriculum are oTten suDJect to long ana extenslve aeoates. However tne nlaaen currlculum, tnougn familiar to those involved is never openly discussed. Dorothy E Smith (1990) posits that sstudents are exposed to elements of the hidden curriculum from the very beginning.
The very first year of schooling exposes them to hierarchy, compliance and control which they become accustomed to tthroughout their schooling experience. These are among some of the negative factors connected to the hidden curriculum. Smith (1990) elaborates further on the notion of control and dominance within the context of school and university, she highlighted that elements, which she called “the relations of ruling” such as superstructure, patriarchy and the west, are reflective of the way social-stratification has been legitimised and accepted.
Smith (1990) extends this argument by saying that these characteristics are taught as negative examples in the explicit curriculum; it is bizarre that they are very much the types of characteristics taught within the implicit curriculum. This issue of control ies in directly with the evolution of society, if we observe the progression of society, the correlation between changes in society and the changes in curriculum become evident. For instance in the early 20th century society saw a boom in industry and thus would need a population prepared for the changes to come.
Incredible changes were made to the curriculum in order to create the so desired workforce and populace, This was where the implicit curriculum came into full force by transpiring various attitudes, values and abilities such as punctuality and obedience in general onduct, this was achieved by implementing regulations, albeit subtly within school settings such as punishment for tardiness and for bad behaviors. It is within these parameters that Marx argues that the hidden capitalistic ideologies are able to transpire.
Theories put forward by Marx (1950) suggest that the primordial aim of the education system is to create a workforce which is equipped with the necessary values, beliefs and attitudes which will benefit the capitalistic desire to reach maximum potential in profit. It is successful in doing so by recreating the workforce on a much smaller scale. The capitalist system is dependent on the existence of a population which is compliant and motivated by external factors. Marx also argues that this system is run by the elite powers and is a structure which relies on the survival of the most successful.
Social Class & Achievement Educational achievement refers to the ability of an individual to succeed within the education system. Success is influenced by a number of factors both within and outside of the school environment. The explicit curriculum tends to follow a textbook pattern which is written in what is known as the “elaborated code” (Abernathy, 998:103-104). The elaborated code is the format in which a discourse takes place; it is a type of language which is spoken and understood by mainly the upper and middle classes.
Sstudents will enter the schooling environment coming from various family backgrounds; the fact that the elaborated code is unique to a particular social group automatically puts the other groups at a disadvantage, mainly because formal education is conducted in the code. Sstudents coming in from the working class for example must first begin by learning the dynamics of the code in order for them to e able to communicate and express themselves. Middle class sstudents on the other hand will not have this obstruction to their learning experience, their will have the understanding and also be able to express themselves abstractly and logically.
Bernstein ( argues at tn tnls Is a relnTorcement 0T tne Marxlst Idea tnat prevailing social classes dictate society. The past curriculum within society Prior to the industrial age the curriculum focused on what was consider at the time to be the necessity. The biggest concern was for sstudents to be able to complete basic arithmetic, reading and writing. The overt curriculum iincluded very rigid traditional values as evident in the western canon, where only classic texts which contained very traditional values and views were studied.
The catalytic industrial age would change “core subjects” which would place more emphasis on subjects which would be better suited for the wider plan and progression of industry (McCall et al, 2001 :23) Modern Curriculum There has been a paradigm shift in modern curriculum. Modern curriculum now takes into consideration the various instructional methods, their benefits, as well as student behavioral and learning patterns. An example of the new wave implicit curriculum is for instance, interactive and co-operative teaching and learning.
The design of the classroom was so that the teacher took precedence and sat at the front of the classroom in a higher, much larger desk, compared to the smaller rows and benches the sstudents occupied. This was seen to be insinuating the hierarchal design of the capitalist system. Howard (1987) illustrates that this was found to be very intimidating for sstudents even if only at a very subliminal level because it appeared as though unintentionally the teacher took on a more dictator-like role hile the sstudents took on a much more passive, subordinate role.
Todays class is very different; As society has changed gear and is leaning more toward creating a world of business, promoting globalisation and an attitude of teamwork, classrooms are now designed to be comfortable and familiar for the sstudents (Howard , 1987). The seating arrangements in classrooms mimic that of a boardroom where sstudents sit in smaller groups and are able to communicate and interact with one-another while the teacher still takes an overseeing role, There are even classes now where eachers do not have allocated seats which makes interaction with sstudents easier.
Research has also shown that sstudents learn and perform so much better within environments where they feel that their contribution is considered and valued (A journal of modern society 2001-2005). Globalisation and Technology An amazing addition to the world, curriculum and classroom is the brilliant gift of technology. The immense increase of media and ddigital technology across the globe has called for the introduction of subjects such as Information Technology into the explicit curriculum to pave the way for the new “World-community’.
Sstudents are required to be at least computer literature in order to survive in this new fast paced world where they will have to compete against some of the most advanced technology and the technology savvy. The barriers and limitations of the classroom have been broken down thanks to globalisation with the help of ddigital technology; sstudents are now able to learn and acquire information from across the globe and have access opportunities at their very fingertips with little to no physical aactivity.
Though the overt curriculum very much acknowledges globalisation by the including ubjects such as Modern Foreign Languages into the curriculum and making use of international resources, the hidden curriculum has been supporting this cause by introducing schemes and incentives such as “World book day’ and “Cultural appreclatlon week” wnlcn are not part 0T tne Innerent curriculum out usea as alas to prepare sstudents for Just how diverse the wider world is.
Teacher -Student relationships Over time we have seen the teacher go from a demi-god figure to one who can teach and learn from their sstudents. The success of an individual is influenced by a number of factors; success relies heavily on the quality of instruction. The teacher is often at the forefront of imparting the ideologies of both the implicit and explicit curriculum. Issues such as preconceived ideas and stereotypes have been known to adversely affect successful instruction (Smith,1990).
Equally not having the mearns to deal with sstudents who require specific needs to be met can have a negative effect on the quality of instruction and in turn the learning process. Of late the curriculum has taken into consideration the fact that each student is an individual with a particular learning style and or ability which is unique to them. Neil Flemmings Visual, Auditory or Kinestecic (VAK, 1996) model is the most commonly known categorisations of learning styles.
Learners can have either one or a combination of these types of learning styles and in modern curriculum both in the overt and the hidden curriculum these are taken into account. An example of learning styles being taken into account in the implicit curriculum is the implementation of various materials and resources within tasks, e. g Printed Images, videos, music and Sport. The hidden curriculum further reiterates, ideologies linked to recreating the orkforce on a smaller scale, by encouraging independent work as well as group tasks.
The Hidden Curriculum Curzon (2003:119) illustrates a few issues which may arise when developing curriculum, He argues that the explicit curriculum plays an important role and is heavily dependent on the developments made within the overt curriculum. One of the issues that ppolicy makers who are behind the construction of the curriculum and syllabus may face is the fact that they tend to follow a traditional textbook approach to change, which does not allow room for much development.
In turn it makes it hallenging to apply aspects of both the implicit and explicit curriculum to different settings like for instance youth centres and home schooling. Home schooling on the other hand is slightly more flexible; being set in a different environment it mearns that there may not necessarily be exposure to elements such as hierarchy and therefore cannot be influenced by such. It is important to note however, that thought the environments differ; it is difficult to achieve home schooling absent of influence from the parameters of a curriculum.
Marx (Das Kapital, 1867:37) emphasises that he desire of the capitalist is to ensure that there is structure and order in a way that will always benefit the system. Bowles and Gintis (1976) support the Marxist theory and argue that the capitalist will go to extreme lengths to ensure that this system is always in place and the easiest and most efficient way for their needs and requirements to be met are in education, which is the genuine objective behind capitalistic influence and presence within the curriculum, the overt, the null and more so in the hidden.