Chicago- In his article The Use of Hidden Curriculum in Today's Schools, Jason Mehner, a yahoo education contributor, identifies the hidden curriculum as a
Chicago- In his article The Use of Hidden Curriculum in Today’s Schools, Jason Mehner, a yahoo education contributor, identifies the hidden curriculum as a
“curriculum that is in the school in an indirect way; that is, outward factors that influence the students within their classrooms. These factors include, and are not limited to, relationship between teachers and students, the activities that contribute to learning in the classroom, as well as other concrete factors such as the furniture and overall aesthetic structures inside the classroom itself.”
This definition of this concept; that was first introduced by Sociologist Phillip Jackson in 1968 to refer to a more implicit, unwritten, or hidden curricular,can explain the tensity of changes occurring in our conceptions and perceptions of education and can also explain why the position of teachers has been shifting from a strict authority that characterized most of the schooling systems in the past to a more facilitating privilege in learning processes. Now, this hidden concept is gaining more attention in the current debates on education and is being gradually integrated into the formation of modern schooling disciplines around the world and I hope that teachers can reflect a more impressive awareness of its importance and its presence.
Today, Creating an effective learning environment for our students is no longer limited mainly to orderliness and regularities as it is reaching more and more beyond the sets of standards and requirements that build our curricula into a more complicated component. This component, we prefer to consider hidden, is now academically proven to have a significant influence on the quality of our teaching experiences.
Definitely, our schools would fail to adhere to its noble missions unless serious consideration is given to this substantial concept and we largely build it into our academic structures. Our children would fail to triumph their learning and would distance themselves dramatically and gradually from the paths of success and growth unless our teachers are expressing stronger sensitivity to what they represent directly and indirectly in their classrooms. It is not about orderliness and regularity. It is about what is hidden!
Traditionally, we associate the term “learning” with a conceptualized duality. Teachers use a curriculum to teach and provide information and students learn and harvest this information. A sender, a receiver, a message and a transmitting system. Does it sound right? Of course not as this philosophy is contradicting a newly advanced natural order of learning. An Order that respects the valuable rule that some hidden factors and signals may play in students’ learning. The factors and signals we label as hidden curriculum.
In the schools of today, the school climate, personality, orientations, social norms, ethical values, aesthetic structure and the quality of services prevail teachers authority and the quality of their adherence to the regulating formula. These factors now exceed the limitations associated with the practicalities and technicalities to a more spacious word. In the schools of today, a school climate that advocates and nurtures a culture of hard work and devotion may have an equal standing to a larger scale of teaching skills and instructive techniques. A school climate; we academically refer to as school culture, that promotes positivity and advances social norms as “being on time, competitive, waiting one’s turn, learning to follow rules and respect authority, practicing patience and many other normal goals and functions of society” can influence the students’ interest in learning and direct them into more positive attitudes.
With their hygiene, body language, eye contact, style and other relevant elements, teachers may transmit more valuable messages to their students than the ones channeled through curricular activities and teaching agendas. The influence and impact of these factors may reach far beyond the walls of our classrooms and our imaginations. In his book, The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy, a New York Times best-selling novelist and a leading and inspiring figure of late-20th century American literature wrote in a beautiful metaphorical language:
“Great teachers had great personalities and that the greatest teachers had outrageous personalities. I did not like decorum or rectitude in a classroom; I preferred a highly oxygenated atmosphere, a climate of intemperance, rhetoric, and feverish melodrama. I wanted my teachers to make me smart. A great teacher is my adversary, my conqueror, commissioned to chastise me. He leaves me tame and grateful for the new language he has purloined from other kings whose granaries are filled and whose libraries are famous. He tells me that teaching is the art of theft: of knowing what to steal and from whom. Bad teachers do not touch me; the great ones never leave me. They ride with me during all my days, and I pass on to others what they have imparted to me. I exchange their handy gifts with strangers on trains, and I pretend the gifts are mine. I steal from the great teachers, and the truly wonderful thing about them is they would applaud my theft, laugh at the thought of it, realizing they had taught me their larcenous skills well.”
These influential words of Pat Conroy introduce us into a different dimension of teaching and into a different conception of teachers. In traditional schooling, Both teachers and students are being indirectly placed within a congested structure. Teachers are being trained to follow certain criteria and certain regulating measurements. This creates a sense of limitation that handicaps our abilities to explore and discover. Teachers can not tweak their style and adjust it to their students’ needs while students are denied chances to experience variety and multiplicity in their learning process. Within this traditional instructional context, classrooms can not be totally conductive, teachers cannot be academically productive and the whole discipline would be in a constant jeopardy.
Today, teaching and learning are a celebration of freedom as more and more schooling disciplines are advancing this very simple conclusion: “The less rigid the classroom, the more students are relaxed for learning.”
To be continued…
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