Hidden Beliefs and Values That Effect Teaching Methodologies

October 12, 2018 11:14 pm51 commentsViews: 216

In today’s educational systems, much emphasis is placed on high stakes testing and students’ academic performance on assessments. After scores have been made official, students’ academic performance is tracked. Many school districts are noticing a huge trend of there being a significant achievement gap between Anglo American students and the minority or socially disadvantaged groups. Now school districts are looking for a solution to close that gap. However, the gap is ever widening due to hidden curriculum.

Hidden Curriculum Defined

What is hidden curriculum? Posner, a sociologist, defines a hidden curriculum as “instructional norms and values not openly acknowledged by teachers or school officials…that curriculum is generally concerned with issues of gender, class, and race, and authority” (Vang 20). Why is hidden curriculum existent in school systems? Although most teachers probably would not admit, hidden curriculum is rampant in school systems for several reasons:

teachers’ personal value and belief systems
teachers’ inability to teach certain students due to lack of experience or knowledge of students’ culture, and
labels that have been created in the educational system (i.e. special education, at-risk, ELL, LEP, FEP, etc.).

Effects of Hidden Curriculum in the Classroom

Many times, teachers are not effective with certain students because the students come from different walks of life and hold different value/belief systems than the teachers. This conflict of interest causes the teacher to be biased (intentionally or unintentionally) towards these students. Students learn more and there cannot be a significant achievement gap with a teacher who is impartial or unbiased towards his/her students (in spite of value/belief systems that certain students may hold). Some teachers are biased unintentionally and exhibit the following practices in their classrooms:

seating lower or “unconcerned” students towards the back of their classrooms
avoiding getting certain students involved in classroom participation exercises
avoiding eye contact and conversation with certain students
rewarding minority students for minor achievements (never or rarely focusing on areas of improvement), and
lowering academic standards to fit the labeled students’ needs

All of these behaviors not only exhibit bias/prejudice in classrooms, but they also enable labeled students. This enabling prohibits these students from learning all that they could potentially learn and it gives these students less of an education than the other students.

All students are interested in learning about things in which they can identify with. When educators choose to leave out cultural ideals and historically enriching knowledge, they stop relating to certain groups of students’ everyday lives. These students can sense the biased education that they are receiving in many cases and know that the education that they are receiving is not intended for them. This causes student motivation to drastically decrease. Once this has happened, the educator has in essence lost the student. By ignoring students’ identities, educators are not only stripping students of their individualism, but they are also providing a huge disservice to the quality of education being received.

Solution to Hidden Curriculum

Administrators and teachers must become an active part of changing student identity through annihilating hidden curriculum. If hidden curriculum is done away with, then the achievement gap can and will close and educational equality will become a reality. Hidden curriculum must become a term of the past. Society needs to focus on ensuring that no child is left behind, and in order for that to happen, students must be taught in a very relevant way. Failure or success is contingent on what is taught directly and indirectly.


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