About Hidden Curriculum

There are aspects of schooling that changes students’ values, perceptions, and behaviors. These changes are not taught in lessons but are learnt through the hidden curriculum. According to Kevin Block-Schwenk (2016) the concept of the Hidden Curriculum dates back a full century to John Dewey (1902), but the phrase was coined in 1968. The concept of a hidden curriculum is in line with its name. This is what is not listed on a course syllabus, but students end up learning.

Karl Thompson (2017) states that the hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten rules, values and normative patterns of behavior which students are expected to conform to and learn while they are in school.

This is contrasts to the formal’ curriculum which consists of the formal programme of specific subjects and lessons which governments, exam boards and schools designs to promote the educational achievement of students. Areas of the hidden curriculum can mold behaviours such as respect for authority, punctuality, work ethics, gender roles etc. Chris Drew (2020) refers to the hidden curriculum as those things were teach but they are not written in any syllabus documents.

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The hidden curriculum manifest itself into the school and/or classroom in many ways such as by the use of different teaching strategies and approaches, the school structure and institutional or classroom rules.

The strategies and approaches used by the teacher and school can convey both intentional and unintended messages. According to Thompson (2017) instructional strategies such as project-based learning or community-based learning, may communicate specific messages and important skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, and attributes such as persistence, resourcefulness, and self-motivation.

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additionally the approach that the teachers uses with their students are also important since that creates the atmosphere of the classroom. A teacher who focuses on positive reinforcement develops a classroom with helpful, co-operative and engaged students, while when teacher is more assertive and less positive the students are easily less interactive and easily distracted.

Focusing on positive reinforcement, the teacher was communicating a hidden curriculum that taught the students that their beliefs, ideas, and comments were valued. When the teacher focused more on the negative aspects of the behavior within the classroom, the hidden lessons implied that the students speech was not valued, that their questions were not valued, and in turn, that they were not valued. The teachers attitude to students can unintentionally make or break the students confidence and esteem.

The school structure refers to the school’s academic programmes and organization. Derrick Meador (2019) believes that a structured school or classroom provides a safe and stable learning environment for students where they can learn as well as enjoy themselves. In a learning environment where goals are set and students are held accountable for their success or failure teaches students to be responsible for their actions. A structured environment also teaches punctuality through disciplining people who are late, shows children how to follow instructions as well how to read and follow a timetable and the benefits of working hard and doing additional work at home. Learning these skills such as respect for authority, patriotism and punctuality unintentionally prepares the students for life and the world of work. More so, the school rules or classroom rules can convey multifarious intentional or unintentional messages to students.

For examples, the uniforms worn by the students. The uniform worn shows sends a clear message of gender identify and gender roles in the school; girls must wear shirt or dress while boys must wear pants even if either gender is uncomfortable with the uniforms. This is a subtle message of how society expects women and men to dress. Rules are established in schools and classrooms to indirectly teach students that there are consequences as a direct result of their actions; this prepares them for society and its rules and laws. The Glossary of Education Reform (2015) also believes that the intent of formal school rules and policies is to tell students how they are expected to behave.


While the Hidden Curriculum is often referred to as the side effect of learning or incidentally learning, it is as equally important as the formal’ curriculum. The hidden curriculum manifest itself many aspects of the students’ schooling. These unintentional messages can either positively or negatively impact the students’ behaviours and attitudes, therefore teachers must strive to understand the hidden curriculum, how it impacts students and how to maximize it to its fullest to prepare the students for a smooth transmission of their life after school or outside of school

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Cite this page

About Hidden Curriculum. (2020, May 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/about-hidden-curriculum-essay

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