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The hidden curriculum

June 13, 2012

A MAJOR reason for the outburst of emotions and frustration displayed by students protesting outside educational institutions is that most of the institutions have focused on high grades only but have neglected imparting civic and moral values to their students.The term ‘hidden curriculum’ was first used by sociologist Philip Jackson in 1968. He suggested that schools 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.

We observe hypocrisy in schools when they claim to raise environmental issues, but waste a lot of paper by sending circulars round the year or assign non-subject specialists to teach a given subject.

There is a lot of stress on speaking English, but if students find teachers or their head teachers speaking Urdu or their regional language, they would surely develop a hypocritical lifestyle.

Similarly, teachers stand under the shade while students stand under the sun during assembly. Teachers have airconditioned staffrooms while students study in hot and humid classrooms. These are just a few examples to quote how teachers’ behaviour is reflected negatively.

When students see their teachers going on strike, boycotting classes, marching on roads raising slogans and burning tyres, they follow suit.

And when these students step into professional life, for instance, as doctors, they strike for days, ignoring thousands of patients depending on them.

More than developing charming and catchy mission statements, teachers should make efforts to teach children civic and moral values.

Not only should civic, social, and moral values be part of the whole school ethos, it should also be practised by teachers to become responsible citizens for children to see and learn from.

SYED FARHAN BASIT Mirpur Mathelo