Hidden to students through the underlying rules

Hidden curriculum
is an extremely powerful force that impacts students, positively or negatively,
depending on the circumstances in which they find themselves. It refers to the
unwritten, unprinted, unofficial and often unintended lessons, values and
perspectives that students learn in school. Further, it also refers to a range
of ideas that students learn from the experience of being in school, but not
formal curriculum. In many situations it is the implicit message conveyed
through the structure and organization of the institution. The hidden
curriculum is based on the recognition that students absorb the lessons in
school that may not be part of formal curriculum, for instance how the
pupil-teacher relationship is; how the pupil-pupil relationship is; what ideas
and behaviour are considered acceptable or unacceptable; and many more.

Hidden curriculum is described as “hidden” because it
is usually unacknowledged or unexamined b the students, teachers, and the wider
community while the lessons are being taught. Hidden curriculum is viewed as
ways in which cultural values and attitudes such as punctuality, discipline and
gratification are transmitted through the structure of teaching and
organization of schools. Students learn subjects like Mathematics, English,
Sciences and Social Sciences in school, but most value lessons come from hidden
curriculum. It makes subjects meaningful and the presented collection of facts
through subjects form the purpose of teaching. Further if we talk about
leadership it cannot be measured in the subjects but it is measured by morals
and values that turn ordinary people into caring and inspiring leaders and such
values only come from hidden curriculum.

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For Giroux (2001), “unstated norms, values and
beliefs embedded in and transmitted to students through the underlying rules
that structure the routines and social relationships in school and classroom
life” comprises the hidden curriculum. The non-academic and unintended norms
and practices are transmitted among students which are not structured but reinforced
among students. These norms act as a process of socialization to inculcate
values among students along with the knowledge and help them to achieve desired
adult roles in society. Additionally, she argues that the hidden curriculum is
not just the vehicle of socialization but agency of social control which
promotes the societal pattern and social inequalities. She categorized hidden
curriculum into three different perspectives: traditional, liberal and radical.

Traditional perspective implies that
schools’ curriculum plays the basic role in propagating all the practices and
structure of society. The traditional schools religiously believe in
reproducing the dominant structure of society and explicitly accept the role of
schools in promoting such values (Giroux, 2001). Students learn the values and adult
roles required to survive in the existing society apart from the family
confined roles through hidden curriculum. It provides necessary conditions for
the effective learning but in relation to the power structure which prepares
them to accept social order and conformity.

Radical perspective clearly focuses
schools as propagating agents of social structure which maintains the political
ideology of the society. It claims that schools provide class specific
education, i.e., different functions for different groups. It trains middle
class students to internalize norms and standards of control. This approach not
only propagates hegemonic classroom practices, but also the political ideology.

Liberal approach considers hidden
curriculum to be those taken for granted assumptions and practices of school
life which although being created by various ‘actors’ within the school, take
on an appearance of accepted normality through their daily production and

For Apple (1990), claims that science enjoys the
appreciated place in the society which is unquestionable. Its scientifically
proven nature and being more logical made its standards high and accepted in
the community. In Indian schools system, those who are engaged in sciences get
an advantage over others are they are thought be having more intellect.
Additionally, Department of Science disciplines get a more dignified place than
any other discipline. Whereas, the disciplines of Social sciences, which are
promoting more to social injustice and inequalities doesn’t have an essential
part in society. Theses disciplines that aim to showcase the reality and
understanding the model are usually ignored. Developing vaules is a functional
aspect of the discipline but the values it provides emphasize the existing
structure and norms of society.

Cultural capital is
a social space in which conflicts of power are enacted; social stratification
is produced and transmitted inter-generationally, in interaction with economic
capital (Bourdieu). Individuals’ cultural capital may be considered as a
societal asset, both in view of economic development and from the perspective
of social integration at the national and international level. In turn,
cultural capital in the form of objective assets may be also a societal
property, part of overall wealth and resource for its economy and development,
as well as a resource for the development of individual cultural capital. A has
cultural capital, if he/she has acquired competence in the society’s
high-status culture.

For Bourdieu (1986), cultural capital is a crucial
dimension of the mechanisms of reproduction and maintenance of social
inequality. In his view, class cannot be reduced to economic relations or
position in the division of labour. Class differences and power unbalances are
produced and reproduced also through the sharing and control of what counts as
culture. If families are the primar agents of cultural transmission, schools
play important role in legitimising and strengthening it. According to
Bourdieu, in fact, the school system tends to support and acknowledge the
dominant culture, thus reinforcing the mechanisms of reproduction of social

According to Bourdieu, three types of cultural
capital should be distinguished:

Embodied cultural capital consists of
both the consciously acquired and the passively “inherited” features that
characterize that characterize ways of being and feeling, such as language,
tastes, patterns of communication and behaviour and so forth. It is acquired
over time, through socialization. Overall, Bourdieu identifies there sub-types
of embodied cultural capital that belong to three different social classes:
Bourgeoisie, middle class and working class.

Objectified cultural capital consists of
physical objects that are owned, such as our cars, works of art, or even our
groceries. These cultural goods can be transmitted both for economic profit and
for the purpose of “symbolically” conveying the cultural capital whose
acquisition they facilitate.

Institutionalized cultural capital
consists of institutional recognition, most often in the form of academic
credentials or qualifications, of the cultural capital held by an individual.
The institutional recognition process eases the conversion of cultural capital
to economic capital by serving as an experience based model that sellers can
use to describe their capital and buyers can use to describe their needs.

For Parson (1961), school class is an “agency of
socialization” which train motivationally and technically, children to perform
the adult role in the society. He analysed the role of family and peer group in
the school class and process of socialization. He claims that schools focus on
developing the commitment towards the implementation of values of society and
the specific role within the structure of society.


Hidden curriculum is one of several ways to impact
the education in schools. Therefore, educators who work with curriculum
development should be aware of this type of curriculum when they design and
develop the curriculum. Sometimes, teachers positively use hidden curriculum
without being aware, through their behaviours and methods of teaching in the
classroom. However, some teachers purposely use the hidden curriculum because
they are aware of this kind of curriculum and its influences and results.
Teachers want to teach their students several knowledge, beliefs, and
experiences, but they cannot do this for some reasons. For instance, teachers
cannot teach these things explicitly to the students because these are not part
of the planned curriculum, so they implicitly reinforce the values through the
hidden curriculum.

In addition, when teachers want to teach and develop
the skills and languages of their students, but they do not have enough time to
do this directly by the planned curriculum, they can use hidden curriculum. For
instance, when a child is asked his name and the teacher adds another
statement, where she tells her own name, the students himself will understand
the meaning of the question being asked.

Very often hidden curriculum may reinforce the
lessons of formal curriculum, but sometimes it may contradict. A school may
publicly claim to ensure that all students will succeed academically, but the
review if its performance data will expose significant socioeconomic
discrepancies when it comes to test scores. 

Taking into account, Cultural capital, we can see
that in s classroom one or the other child always have an upper hand over the
other. For instance, a child who brings new things to classroom will usually
have more friends as compared to the one who mostly doesn’t buy new articles.
Here, the child who brings new things has a cultural capital over the others.
In the M.C.D. school, where I have done internship, I saw that most of the
students come from Hindu families expect a few who were from Muslim family and
who were usually ignored. Here, since the Hindu students are in majority and
their thought and religious practices are same, they have cultural capital over
the Muslim students.