link: hidden curriculum

 

                   TRADITIONAL SCHOOLING AS A MECHANISM OF SOCIAL CONTROL

                                   OR 'SOCIALIZATION': THE 'HIDDEN CURRICULUM'

theme:  Discussion of educational policy must consider not only the content factor of education - the kind of knowledge acquired - but also the process factor - how the knowledge is acquired. Content is the overt curriculum. Process is the 'hidden curriculum'. Decisions about both content and process in education are based on value premises of both ethics and politics.

"Schools don't really teach anything but how to obey orders. Although teachers do care, and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic; it has no conscience." (John Gatto)

Production of knowledge: Curriculum of content (overt curriculum) and curriculum of process (covert or hidden curriculum)  Education is concerned with the transmission and production of knowledge. The production of knowledge involves two aspects of educational practice or 'curricula'. One involves the knowledge itself or  'content'. The other involves the way in which the content is transmitted and produced i.e. 'process' . The process is concerned with the methodology of teaching and learning or 'pedagogy'. Pedagogy is concerned with how one learns the content, how one makes decisions about who learns the content and to what extent they learn it. The curriculum of content is the 'overt curriculum'. The curriculum of 'process' is the 'unstudied curriculum ' or 'hidden curriculum'.  In the process of learning the content, one learns how to learn the content, one learns who decides which aspects of the content are to be learned, one learns whom one must obey and respect, one learns how to addresss and react to different members of one's class, one learns whose favor one must curry, whose opinions to respect and so on.  Ethics and politics determine what is to be studied, by whom and to what extent.

The term 'hidden curriculum' was invented by Philip Jackson. Jackson was influenced by the educational psychology of French philosopher Emile Durkheim who had "the most philosophically and scientifically comprehensive, clear, and workable approach to moral education..."  (Phillip Jackson Life in Classrooms 1968) Jackson invented the term 'hidden' or 'unstudied curriculum' refer to ninety percent of what goes on in classrooms... the curriculum of obligatory instruction. The hidden curriculum of the educational system reproduces the basic structure of the culture.  The school's function of socialisation is represented by three central characteristics of school life which teach the student to fit into a society of the same three characteristics - the crowds, the praise, the power. In school the student learns to be treated as a member of a crowd of same-age, same-status others and thus to fit into a world of impersonal authority in which a relative stranger gives orders and wields power.

"In order to commit ourselves to collective end, we must have above all a feeling and affection for the collectivity. We have seen that such feelings cannot arise in the family where solidarity is based on blood and intimate relationship since the bonds uniting the citizens of a country have nothing to do with such relationships. The only way to instill the inclination to collective life is to get hold of the child when he leaves his family and enters school. We will succed the more  easily because in certain respects, he is more amenable to this joining of minds in a common consciousness than is the adult. To achieve this tonic effect on the child, the class must really share a common collective life. .... The most powerful means to instill in children the feeling of solidarity is to feel that the value of each is a function of the worth of all... there is a great distance between the state in which the child finds himself as he leaves the family and the one toward which he must strive. Intermediaries are necessary, the school environment the most desirable. It is more extensive than the family or the group of friends,. It results neither from blood nor free choice but from a meeting among subjects of similar age and condition. In that sense it resembles political society. On the other hand it is limited enough so that personal relations can crystallize. It is groups of young persons more or less like those of the social system of the school which have enabled the formation of societies larger than the family. Even in simple societies without schools, the elders would assemble the group at a given age and initiate them collectively into the moral and intellectual patrimony of the group. Induction into the moral patrimony of the group has never been conducted entirely within the family." (Emile Durkheim Moral Education. New York: Free Press, 1961 page 231)

Traditional schooling as a mechanism of social control: function of socialisation through the 'hidden curriculum'  

 In the American culture of capitalism and consumerism, educational policy focuses on the reproduction of so-called 'American values' which are reproduced in that aspect of the curriculum which deals with the process of transferring content from teacher to student i.e. the covert or 'hidden curriculum'.

 In the traditional paradigm education is provided by the state to serve the ruling interests of the society. 

Traditional education is based on the premise that education depends on obligatory attendance in school. Children belong in school, they learn in school and they can only be taught in school. This type of schooling and teaching as skill instruction confuses 'schooling' with education and learning.

Progressive learning is confused with grade advancement and competence is confused with school certificates and diplomas or 'credentials'.

Education as a matter of politics Education is a matter of politics. The system of education depends on the promotion of those teaching philosophies and methodologies which are compatible with the cultural values of the society in which the education is occurring. Education is concerned with the transmission of knowledge within the constraints of the material conditions and social relations determined by the values which are held by particular social groups and interests.

As a political act, education is concerned with determining which knowledge is transmitted and how it is transmitted if it is to serve these interests... 'unstudied curriculum or' 'hidden curriculum'

American education and capitalism The educational system of the American culture is designed to serve the interests of capitalism and consumerism. The cultural values which foster conformity to belief systems which are based on historical traditions and ideals are the ones which are sustained with American educational practice.   

 The basic structure of the culture is reproduced in the 'hidden curriculum' of the educational system. Decisions about process as well as content are derived from value premises which underlie the political and social philosophies. The hidden curriculum of obligatory instruction is justified by the constitutional principle of 'equal educational opportunity'. The function of the hidden curriculum is to foster conformity to the cultural values. The hidden curriculum serves to initiate the student into the culture of capitalism and consumerism by reproducing those cultural values which are compatible with it. The hidden curriculum transforms the non-material needs of the 'consumer' into demands for commodities. Students are taught how to be consumers of the services of 'teaching'. They are taught how to accept its inherent cultural values and expectations. They are taught how to blend in with the cultural belief systems. Once they have learned this lesson, they lose their incentive to grow in independence, to recognize relatedness and connection, and they disconnect themselves from opportunities which life has to offer... decline in motivation... 'problem of motivation'.

The hidden curriculum as obligatory instruction or 'education' becomes obligatory attendance or 'schooling'. Obligatory schooling revolves around teacher authority and student passivity. Life as obligatory schooling is based on student classification according to age and performance on standardized tests. In the sorting process, students are expected to be obedient and passive, to work at meaningless tasks without complaint, to value competition and to respect their teachers as authority figures even though are forced to remain weak and demoralized. In this way, the schools can pursue their objectives in the successful reproduction of cultural values which form the basis for the hidden curriculum.

In this way the hidden curriculum prepares the student for a future of alienation and the institutionalization of life in a capitalist consumer culture.

Characteristics of school life: people, praise and power This is done through the three main characteristics of school life - the people, the praise, the power. In the life of 'school' the student learns to adapt to being treated as a same-age same-status member of a group, to obey the impersonal authority of strangers who give orders and wield power, to respond to the praise which is part of the rituals of schooling i.e school credentials and ceremonies such as diplomas, certificates, licenses, grades, honors lists, graduations and so on and to subscribe to the philosophy of 'accumulation'. As the philosophy of acculmulation the hidden curriculum of school and schooling is for the promotion of consumerism. As a promotor of consumerism, the schooling system performs the same three functions as powerful churches throughout human history. Like the church, the school is the repository of 'social myth'.

It serves to institutionalize the contradictions of that myth and it is the site of the ritual which hides and reproduces the discrepancies, disparities and conflicts existing between social principles and the practical applications of those principles.

Schools are responsible for children's learning and growth At the same time they are responsible for children's learning and growth.

Schools create dependent personalities who are unable to draw on their own resources in order to give substance and pleasure to their existence. The absurdity... the growing child becomes unable to create meaningfulness for their own lives. In this 'education game', uncritical students focus on the content of the overt curriculum and become unaware of the other curriculum which is hidden in the process of teaching and learning that content. It is for this reason that the schooling system can be considered as a form of political manipulation (banking education.) As obligatory instruction for institutionalized living, education of the hidden curriculum becomes an industry for the production of knowledge. The knowledge industry is a fast-growing labor market which directly or indirectly employs a growing proportion of the population. In the labor market, education is defined in terms of 'services' and institutions which are created for the services required for educating people. Many people are kept in school for life, or they are guaranteed to fit into some other form of institution.

As obligatory instruction, the hidden curriculum is an educational process which lacks authenticity and depends for success on expectations.

Genuine educational reform Both the overt curriculum and the hidden curriculum must be considered in any discussion of educational 'reform'. Educational reform requires a fundamental change in the way children are educated i.e in the 'process of education'. Teachers and schools, no matter how good, can't do it alone. Parents can make the critical difference by taking an active role in children's education. Any reform in schooling has to deal with the absurdities of the system and expose the hidden curriculum. It is the hidden curriculum which combines consumer expectations with producers' beliefs in its claims and its ritual. If people remain hypnotized by the power of ritual, it is only by breaking the spell that one can create changes which lead to reform.

Hence educational reform is possible if it is based not only on changes in the overt curriculum, but on changes in the hidden curriculum as well...  based on philosophy

  Reform depends on  recognition of ritual of schooling as initiation into consumer culture (see Illich)...

Reform depends on educational philosophy ...an educational process which is meaningful and depends for success on self-reliance and hope. What is needed is an educational philosophy that works. One philosophy which has been at the core of the education of the European ruling classes for years is based on the belief that the only basis of true knowledge is 'self-knowledge'. In this system the family is the main arena for education. At every age the child finds himself alone with a problem to solve. Children are trusted with independent study from a very early age. Their privacy and solitude is respected. Curricula are developed which enable children to cultivate self-knowledge and self-reliance. Their sense of responsibility is enhanced by making community service a part of their schooling. The understanding teacher is respected and children are not deprived of the time which they need to develop self-knowledge. Children who develop self-knowledge are capable of rational thought. They are able to apply the natural principles of social life to their own lives and they are able to mature and develop their own humanity (conscience) and the humanity of others.

Education is concerned with the transmission and production of knowledge.

Implications for education Both the overt curriculum and the hidden curriculum in any discussion of educational 'reform'. Educational reform requires a fundamental change in the way children are educated i.e in the 'process' of education. Teachers and schools, no matter how good, can't do it alone. Parents can make the critical difference by taking an active role in children's education. Any reform in schooling has to deal with the absurdities of the system and expose the hidden curriculum. It is the hidden curriculum which combines consumer expectations with producers' beliefs in its claims and its ritual. If people remain hypnotized by the power of ritual, it is only by breaking the spell that one can create changes which lead to reform. Hence educational reform is possible if it is based not only on changes in the overt curriculum, but on changes in the hidden curriculum as well. The hidden curriculum is an educational process which lacks authenticity and depends for success on expectations. Reform depends on an educational process which is meaningful and depends for success on self-reliance and hope. What is needed is an educational philosophy that works. One philosophy which has been at the core of the education of the European ruling classes for years is based on the belief that the only basis of true knowledge is self-knowledge. In this system the family is the main arena for education. At every age the child finds himself alone with a problem to solve. Children are trusted with independent study from a very early age. Their privacy and solitude is respected. Curricula are developed which enable children to cultivate self-knowledge and self-reliance. Their sense of responsibility is enhanced by making community service a part of their schooling. The understanding teacher is respected and children are not deprived of the time which they need to develop self-knowledge. Children who develop self-knowledge are capable of rational thought. They are able to apply the natural principles of social life to their own lives and they are able to mature and develop their own humanity (conscience) and the humanity of others.

 "The educational use of the 'hidden curriculum'...is to bring the dialogue of justice into the classroom." (Kohlberg, L., and Turiel, E. "Moral Development and Moral Education." Psychology and Educational Practice, edited by Lesser. G. Chicago IL: Scott Foresman, 1971. 214)

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references:

Kevin Harris. Education and Knowledge: The Structured Misrepresentation of Reality. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1979 chapter 5 education.

Lawrence Kohlberg The Moral Atmosphere of the School Chapter 13 Moral Education: It Comes With the Territory (Ed) David Purpel and Kevin Ryan, Berkeley,CA: McCutchen Publishing Co. 1976,

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The system of education depends on the promotion of those teaching philosophies and methodologies which are compatible with the cultural values of the society in which the education is occurring. Education is concerned with the transmission of knowledge within the constraints of the material conditions and social relations determined by the values which are held by particular social groups and interests. As a political act, education is concerned with determining which knowledge is transmitted and how it is transmitted if it is to serve these interests.

Education is concerned with the transmission and production of knowledge. The production of knowledge involves two aspects of educational practice or 'curricula'. One involves the knowledge 'content'. The other involves the way or 'process' in which the content is transmitted and produced. The process involves the methodology of teaching and learning or 'pedagogy'. Pedagogy is concerned with how one learns the content, how one makes decisions about who learns the content and to what extent they learn it. The curriculum of content is the 'overt curriculum'. The curriculum of 'process' is the 'hidden curriculum'. Both the overt curriculum and the hidden curriculum in any discussion of educational 'reform'.

Decisions about process as well as content are derived from value premises which underlie the political and social philosophies. The hidden curriculum of obligatory instruction is justified by the constitutional principle of 'equal educational opportunity'. The function of the hidden curriculum is to foster conformity to the cultural values. The hidden curriculum as obligatory instruction or 'education' becomes obligatory attendance of obligatory schooling. Obligatory schooling revolves around teacher authority and student passivity. Life as obligatory schooling is based on student classification according to age and performance on standardized tests. In the sorting process, students are expected to be obedient and passive, to work at meaningless tasks without complaint, to value competition and to respect their teachers as authority figures even though are forced to remain weak and demoralized. In this way, the schools can pursue their objectives in the successful reproduction of cultural values which form the basis for the hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum serves to initiate the student into the culture of capitalism and consumerism by reproducing those cultural values which are compatible with it. The hidden curriculum transforms the nonmaterial needs into demands for commodities. Students are taught how to be consumers of the services of 'teaching'. They are taught how to accept its inherent cultural values and expectations. They are taught how to blend in with the cultural belief systems.

Once they have learned this lesson, they lose their incentive to grow in independence, to recognize relatedness and connection, and they disconnect themselves from opportunities which life has to offer. In this way the hidden curriculum prepares the student for a future of alienation and the institutionalization of life in a capitalist consumer culture. This is done through the three main characteristics of school life - the people, the praise, the power. In the life of 'school' the student learns to adapt to being treated as a same-age same-status member of a group, to obey the impersonal authority of strangers who give orders and wield power, to respond to the praise which is part of the rituals of schooling i.e school credentials and ceremonies such as diplomas, certificates, licenses, grades, honors lists, graduations and so on and to subscribe to the philosophy of 'accumulation'. As the philosophy of acculmulation the hidden curriculum of school and schooling is for the promotion of consumerism. As a promotor of consumerism, the schooling system performs the same three functions as powerful churches throughout human history. Like the church, the school is the repository of social myth, it serves to institutionalize the contradictions of that myth and it is the site of the ritual which hides and reproduces the discrepancies, disparities and conflicts existing between social principles and the practical applications of those principles. At the same time they are responsible for children's learning and growth. Schools create dependent personalities who are unable to draw on their own resources in order to give substance and pleasure to their existence. Unable to create meaningfulness for their own lives, children grow up absurd. In this education 'game', uncritical students focus on the content of the overt curriculum and become unaware of the other curriculum which is hidden in the process of teaching and learning that content. It is for this reason that the schooling system can be considered as a form of political manipulation (banking education.) As obligatory instruction for institutionalized living, education of the hidden curriculum becomes an industry for the production of knowledge. The knowledge industry is a fast-growing labor market which directly or indirectly employs a growing proportion of the population. In the labor market, education is defined in terms of 'services' and institutions which are created for the services required for educating people. Many people are kept in school for life, or they are guaranteed to fit into some other form of institution.

 Education is concerned with the transmission and production of knowledge.

It is for this reason that the schooling system can be considered as a form of political manipulation