The Teacher's Role in the Hidden Curriculum

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The Teachers’ Role in the Hidden Curriculum

Abstract

This paper examines the comments of a class of 27 students of one class. The responses centre around the hidden curriculum related to the role of the teachers and the teaching strategies they use and how they impact the attitudes of the students towards the subjects they teach.

Key Words:hidden curriculum, teacher’s role

"What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Schools spend a valuable time and effort in planning the formal curriculum. They develop systems for effective implementation of the designed curriculum; and then they device methods of formative, as well as summative evaluation to find out, if the objectives set are achieved or not. But one important aspect of curriculum which is never documented, consciously implemented or evaluated is the hidden curriculum.

‘The hidden curriculum also involves learning but no school board ever sets it,’ [Ortberg: 2009:49]. School is a place where curriculum is enacted whether formal (intentional) or hidden (inherent), but this is also a place where all the aspects of curriculum enactment are not fully recognised or credited. In the words of Philip W. Jackson (1990) who first used the term ‘Hidden Curriculum’:

‘School is a place where tests are failed and passed, where amusing things happen, where new insights are stumbled upon, and skills acquired. But it is also a place in which people sit, and listen, and wait, and raise hands, and pass out paper, and stand in line, and sharpen pencils. School is where we encounter both friends and foes, where imagination is unleashed and misunderstanding brought to ground. But it is also a place in which yawns are stifled and initials scratched on desktops,...’

A lot more is transmitted than what the teachers plan and teach. Teaching and learning is packed in the teacher’s attitude towards students, the class ethos, the students’ perception of the educator and the students’ perception of the school. The packaging teaches a lot more than what is packed (intentionally taught). We don’t teach the hidden curriculum but it ‘just leaks out’ [Ortberg: 2009:49] of us.

The purpose of this study is to examine why students like some subjects more than the others and which factors related to the teaching strategies and the teacher’s personality impact their likings.

By examining their reasons for liking different subjects we catch a glimpse of the hidden curriculum playing its part.

Hidden curriculum as defined by sociologists is the ‘informal and non-intentional learning within the school,’ [McNeil: 1981:236].

Before education was institutionalized, learners acquired it by visiting and living with scholars over long periods of time. The scholars did not just teach the ‘doctrine’ but they also taught the ‘life’ itself. They never stopped teaching. The non-teaching time, when they could be themselves, was non-existent. The ‘line between teaching moments and ‘just living’ got wonderfully blurred’ [Ortberg:2009:52]. As a result congruence was created between teaching and learning and between formal and hidden curriculum. Or it would be better to say that there was no hidden curriculum at all.

With industrialization came the factory model schools. Religion was excluded from all rooms and confined to its period only. Facts were transmitted ‘to rows of quiet, submissive students...’[Wren:1999:594]. This was the time when hidden curriculum came into existence, divorced from formal curriculum. Since that time the laments about the decline of moral character of students seem to grow louder year after year.

Understanding the hidden curriculum is extremely important for all educators, in order to perform effectively. Wren (1999) explicates, ‘Greater understanding of the hidden curriculum will help educators to achieve the goal of providing effective schools in the 21st century.’[pg. 596]

One aspect of the...
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