Exposing The Hidden Curriculum

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The first time I heard about the “Hidden Curriculum”, I started thinking…. “Oh, Crap! What did I miss. We never talked about that in college. Is it a Math curriculum? A really good Reading Curriculum?” I was perplexed but didn’t want to embarrass myself by asking what it was, since it must be what all the great teachers use in their classrooms. “Am I the only one who doesn’t know what this curriculum is?” I had to find out. 
I went back to my classroom and did a quick internet search. So, I’m about to let you in on the secret of what the hidden curriculum is, if you were like me, and didn't know! 
It is not a Math curriculum, or even a really good English Curriculum. I was super wrong on both of those fronts!  It’s a term that is used to describe all of the unwritten rules and expectations of our behaviors that we all seem to know, but were never explicitly taught.

Need an example? Have you ever tried to tell a student that something is “Common Sense”? What about “Everyone knows that…” Chances are everyone doesn’t know, and it is not common sense. Most students pick up on these social indicators. Students with disabilities, especially Autism have a difficult time picking up those social cues.

A few examples :
*It’s not okay to tell other students that they smell and should use deodorant.
*Classmates can tell you to do something, but it may get you in trouble. They don’t always have your best interests in mind.
*Don’t correct someone else’s grammar all the time.
*In gym class at high school when you have to change clothes in the gym room, don’t stare at others while they change.

How do you teach the hidden curriculum? 

The hidden curriculum can be taught in many meaningful ways! 

1. Try Video Modeling! Record a situation and play it back for students. Ask them if there was anything wrong with the situation? Was the rule broken, a hidden curriculum rule? or a known rule? What could they do to change the outcome of the situation? 

2. Community Experiences- Many rules can be taught out in the community. Field trips are great to practice many skills. Going to a restaurant can help teaching using money and ordering, but some of the hidden rules can also be taught. Hidden Rules like Not Yelling that your food is taking too long, understanding that you pay after you eat at sit down restaurants, but before you eat at fast food restaurants. Waiting in line until it is your turn to order is another hidden skill that might not be explicitly taught. 

3. Mistakes- Sometimes you start to tell a student that something is common sense, or they should already know about something. IF you are finding yourself saying this, double check to make sure the item is not a hidden curriculum skill. If it is, it's the perfect opportunity for a learning moment. We ALL learn from mistakes. It's often times the best way to learn. 

4. Game it Up! - Make it a fun game. Have students play a wheel of fortune style game that let's them answer questions about the hidden curriculum once they have learned some hidden curriculum rules. It's great for review! I use this game I made in my classrooms!  Click here to check it out! 

I'd love to know what items you have found yourself teaching, or how you teach the Hidden Curriculum in your classroom! Leave a comment below with your answers! I can't wait to hear from you! 

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