11.07.2019 in Education

The Hidden Curriculum Essay

Every school possesses a curriculum that serves as a guide for both teachers and learners, delineating the expectations required from each within the educational institution. Without a stable curriculum, a school may not function effectively, as it lacks the standards and objectives necessary for learners to achieve. Both the school attended by the student and the neighborhood in which the school is situated influence the development of both the open and hidden curricula. It is the responsibility of every student to foster a constructive dialogue between the school and society, thus maintaining an effective and conducive learning environment. The hidden curriculum encompasses teachings not included in either the primary or secondary formal curriculum. These include instructions given to students unintentionally, such as knowledge concerning appropriate behaviors, priorities, and value assessments (Trautman, 2004). These instructions are communicated to students through various quiet and convenient means. The instructions may appear in the manner in which the school program is created in arts or in building maintenance. Therefore, it may either encourage or discourage learners; research indicates that the hidden curriculum may have a positive impact on learners, particularly in areas of upward mobility and emotional growth. However, it can also create confusing and contradictory instructions that compete with the open curriculum for attention. Essentially, the hidden curriculum encompasses various types of education or knowledge acquired in both primary and secondary programs, particularly concerning the adverse effects related to inequalities resulting from its existence (Trautman, 2004). The hidden curriculum began with the commitment made by various schools in the United States with the intention of promoting democracy, encouraging equality in intellectual development, and improving upon goals hindered by the intangible curriculum. Thus, this type of curriculum seeks to perpetuate existing social inequalities by imparting to learners various issues and behaviors based on their class and social backgrounds (Apple, 1971).

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Factors Influencing the Hidden Curriculum

Bias, especially in terms of gender, influences the hidden curriculum in that boys and girls receive different education despite sharing the same classroom, books, and teachers. The socialization set up within schools teaches learners that girls are less equal to boys. This is encouraged every time learners are separated from each other in terms of gender by their teachers hence confirming the idea that boys and girls are to be handled and treated in different ways. For example, when an administrator condones behavior such as sexual harassment, they are permitting the degradation of female students. Also, if certain actions from boys are tolerated more than they are from girls, then the school is perpetuating the oppression of female students. However, studies show that female learners are recently becoming more successful academically compared to boys, though classroom monitoring demonstrates that girls and boys continue to be treated in ways that work against gender equity (Apple, 1971).

Typically, girls are encouraged more towards a feminine ideal by their teachers, being praised for being neat, calm, and humble, while boys are encouraged to be active, independent, and express their views freely. Most girls are taught that being popular is much more important than excellence academic performances and ability, whereas boys on the other hand take and value independence and competence as the most important things in their lives. The hidden curriculum reinforces this gender bias in students because classrooms are seen as mirrors of society, meaning that all its strengths and weaknesses are reflected through the students to the community. It is therefore true to say that the typical socialization of young children, which often results in distorted views of gender roles, originates from the classrooms. Gender bias is reinforced even more in books, during lectures or lessons, and the interaction between the teacher and learners. Thus, this type of gender bias is included in the hidden curriculum of lessons educated implicitly to learners through the daily activities of their classroom. For example teacher`s response to the students influences them either positively or negatively. Studies reveal that teacher`s praises gives positive response to the student by motivating them. In this case, boys are the ones who receive positive praises and remediation than it is with the girls. Girl’s responses are just acknowledged by their teachers but no praises accompany that.  Therefore as a result leads to boys being given greater and bigger chances to expand and grow in ideas and be animated than it is with girls and that they motivate boys for more responses than they do with girl child.

Motivational techniques are also another factor influencing the hidden curriculum. The values, past experiences, and attitude influences or affects the way and the quantity of what the students learn. The motivation used therefore needs to be in relation with the learner’s values. For example, for a learner who values patriotism, education on the code of conduct would be a motivational lesson. Both the teachers and the students are required to take responsibility, even though motivation is among the primary activities of teaching. The subject matter, classroom settings, competence of the teacher, student, and the teacher`s personality impacts the motivation process in the learner. For instance, a lesson which is dull creates a boring class and thus leading to unrelaxed class with no participation. This results in a loss of confidence and enthusiasm in the teacher, leading to a negative impact on learners’ motivation (Hemmings, 2000). Therefore to promote motivation to learners; it is advisable to use different materials while teaching to encourage class participation. The instructors are also encouraged to provide detailed responses to their learners when they attempt to answer a question or carry out an activity related to the instructional objectives. A positive feedback from the teachers may create a big difference between a learners feelings concerning success or failure. Hence a favorable response on a successful performance would act as a motivational idea in hidden curriculum.

Students’ learning style is another factor influencing the hidden curriculum, where teachers are sometimes unaware that they are conveying a certain message to their learners. The message may be sensed quickly because learners grasp things rapidly as they are required to adhere to school rules and regulations to succeed and receive positive recommendations. Learners get these hidden ideas when attending school programs. There are many schools that still have social norms and values that are promoted by the school. Examples of these values include keeping time, being competitive, being patient, and learning to accept the rules and regulations of the school (Cornbleth, 1984).

The school improved socializing codes of behavior can also affect the learners and their learning styles. Instructors send out messages to students from the beginning of their schooling. A good example in this factor is a situation in a primary school where the instructor monitored how the children behaved and perceived the world in a negative manner. The results were that, the young children had to change their emotional response so as to fit to those assumed to be right by the instructor. Children like expressing their feelings freely and they are so uncomfortable when they are made to remain quite. The hidden curriculum sometimes determines the shortcomings of the learner’s behavior in the classroom and in the school, which may be a stumbling block to learning.

My Personal Experiences with the Hidden Curriculum

In my experience, boys were made to be superior to girls, as certain activities were considered to be for boys, and any girl participating in them was stigmatized and ridiculed. Therefore girls were biased in favor of boys. The socialization set up within schools teaches learners that girls are less equal to boys.

To eliminate this gender bias in the hidden curriculum, all learners need to be appreciated, praised, and remediated equally so that they are motivated in the learning process.


The hidden curriculum consists of lessons communicated by the school organization and its operations, apart from the official statement of the mission and guidelines for the objectives set by the school. The lessons of the hidden curriculum typically concern attitudes, values, norms, and behavior. Hidden curriculum lessons may be consistent or contradictory, much like the written curriculum; they can also support or undermine it. For example, the frequent display of trophies around the school administration but no recognition for debate demonstrates a high value of accomplishments, placing sports ahead of academics. The main aim of having a hidden curriculum in schools is for cultural transmission and educating learners about the routines for behaving well in schools and in the greater society outside of schools. Essentially, the hidden curriculum aims at maintaining the status quo, particularly the cultural dominance and the existing socioeconomic hierarchy.  Lessons of the hidden curriculum in earlier days were primarily conducted in public elementary schools, based on academic classrooms. But recently, there has been a focus on physical education, business education, and student cultures, emphasizing ethnicity, disability, gender, social classes, politics, and culture.

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