By Abdallah Zbir
By Abdallah Zbir
Morocco World News
Chicago, September 21, 2012
The changes taking place in the society’s demographic body and its cultural implications, the transformations in our social structures, the invasion of technology and the excessive use of Internet in the world of today are forcing new understanding of education and its philosophy. Learning, now, is no longer limited to determinations of space and time. Rather, it is an ongoing process of acquisition.
Learning, once governed by pre-determined regulations and guidelines, pre-defined concepts and conceptions and by pre-designed curricular procedures, is now a broad range of explicit and implicit connections and combinations. The concentration on explicit identification of subjects taught is not the sole factor of learning. Rather, learning occurs as a result of both instructive practices and subtle elements such as the aesthetic aspects of the academic settings and the social implications.
Throughout the history of our schooling system, scholars and education experts have been trying to offer the best possible academic formula for our students to learn, succeed, and grow. This formula has been thought of to be a set of rules, guidelines, procedures, frameworks, and objectives meant for a certain group in a certain setting. Educative measures are no longer limited to a set of “subject that are included in a course of study or taught in a school.”(Oxford dictionary, p. 308) Currently, learning reaches new directions and involves an awareness of new factors and new participants in the teaching/learning processes usually referred to as Hidden Curriculum.
The concept, Hidden Curriculum has been given various definitions and has been approached to through different perspectives. It was first introduced by Sociologist Phillip Jackson in 1968 to refer to a more implicit, unwritten, or hidden curricular content. For Phillip Jackson, “what is taught in schools is more than the sum total of the curriculum.” (Jackson, 1968 as cited in the learner’ forum, p.1) Teaching and learning reach other numerous types of knowledge. According to Jackson, Schools are not merely academic establishments with defined objectives, agreed-upon managerial practices, and rules. Rather, schools “should be understood as socialization processes where students pick up messages through the experience of being in school, not just from things those they are explicitly taught.”(Jackson, 1968 as cited in the learner’ forum, p.1)
This direction of thought is well expressed in the definition given by Meighan in his book “A Sociology of Education,” published in 1981. He wrote: “The hidden curriculum is taught by the school, not by any teacher…something is coming across to the pupils which may never be spoken in the English lesson or prayed about in assembly. They are picking-up an approach to living and an attitude to learning.”(Meighan, 1981 as cited in the learner forum) The term is so vague and can signify multiple understandings. However, it always refers to a process of transmissions of ethics, morals, principles, values, rituals, beliefs, etc., that occur in the defined and constructed educational content and in the social context of this content as well. It is basically what is taught in classrooms and also what is conveyed indirectly to students from their surrounding environment.
Teachers’ philosophy, teachers’ choices, and use of books and materials, the audio visual techniques used in classrooms, the size and aesthetic aspects of the academic setting, the motivational techniques, the measurement of assessments, the relationships, interactions and occurrences between teachers and students, the learning groups, the socioeconomic differences can play a more major role in the learning process. Traditional settings that have been influenced for years to preserve certain social privileges and denied class, gender, race, and ethnicity an active role are no longer an option in educators’ agenda.
Values of fairness, justice, and equality are enforcing new approaches to learning and dominating the academic sphere. Administrators and teachers are encouraged to respond to a more diverse classroom and to have answers to new raising questions such as: “Who gets fawned over, and who gets ignored? How do the staff and leaders get along when they’re off the platform and think nobody’s looking? How does a small group respond when someone shares a problem that is untidy and unresolved? Do leaders respond with panic or irritation or confidence or gentleness when a problem strikes? When there is a conflict, do people face it head on or go into avoidance mode?” (Ortberg, 2009, p.4).
Essential to the growth and development of our schooling system is our ability to teach and learn about differences and multiplicity and to consider these differences in our teaching practices. “Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same text book, listening to the same teachers” (Sadker 1994, p.2) can be unfair as students do not have equal standings and do not possess the same qualities. Every child is unique in his or her own. Our classrooms are made of visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesis students. One child might prefer a style; another may prefer another one or may combine two or three or even more of these qualities. To succeed, teachers should integrate non-bias practices and facilitate learning for all.
Schools still openly and intentionally promote social norms and values such as: “being punctual, competitive, waiting one‘s turn … to accept hierarchy of authority, patience, and other ‘goals and functions of wider society.” (Jackson, 1968 as cited in Marsh). Many ideas, ideologies, and concepts can be enforced in the student’s cognitive system. Teachers should be sensitive to this challenge and try to establish a setting with well-defined relationships that encourage students to discuss openly, energize teamwork and learning group practices and that can “help create students that are more tolerable of other people’s opinions. A trait that is very valuable later in life.” (Cornbleth, 2009). As teachers, we adhere to agreed-upon topics to discuss, practices to follow, objectives to meet, and ends to reach. Our adherence is obviously governed by well-declared curricular criteria. The problem is our work might evaporate and have no significance if we are not able to include other implicit and unintentional considerations we usually choose to identify as Hidden Curriculum.
Educators should draw a line between their personal thinking and professionalism. They should be very sensitive to how they introduce themselves to their students and to the messages they are permanently transmitting. They also should vary their qualities and strategies so they can have that great impact on their instructive activities.
Personally, I consider motivation to play a major role in students’ development and growth. I still remember, three years ago, when I tried to convince parents to enroll their kids in a Houston based soccer league. The experience was new to them and to their children. The non-confidence of their children’s abilities to compete at a city level was a barrier. I tried hard to explain to them the positive outcomes the experience may have. Finally, they agreed and we started our season with courage and hope needed to challenge the experience. What a surprise was it? We ranked third in that season. I noticed how important motivation is. Positive enforcement and encouragement can play a significant role in our success. It can have an equal standing to all our instructive practices. A word that inspires and leads can reach further more than a simple teaching procedure.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed