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Hidden Curriculum

The term 'Hidden Curriculum' was first used by sociologist Philip Jackson in 1968, although the concept has been around longer.  Jackson argues that what is taught in schools is more than the sum total of the curriculum.  He thought that school should be understood as a socialisation process where students pick up messages through the experience of being in school, not just from things that they are explicitly taught. 

A recent definition of a hidden curriculum was given by Meighan ("A Sociology of Education", 1981):

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.

From Wikipedia

The hidden curriculum has a big influence on pupils, making it as important, if not more important than the national curriculum.  For example, it is one thing for a school to teach about democracy in a Citizenship lesson, but if the pupils in the school are given no voice and are treated unjustly by the school system then a much louder, negative message is given to those pupils about the nature of society. 

The Hidden Curriculum is a Guardian article about the mixed messages schools can send to children.

Given that people constantly pick up messages from their environment, it is clear that the way a school is designed, the materials used, and its subsequent maintenance and cleanliness has an influential role in education.  A building that looks and feels like a prison has one kind of impact, whilst a light and airy, inviting building has another.  The school building sends out a message to pupils and staff about how much they are valued and also about how much their education is valued.  This is an important consideration to have in mind when negotiating the school design process.

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