“We need to be examining our lessons and lenses, their political implications, and possible alternatives…. we need to put front and center the very things we do not want in our teaching, the very things we do not even know are in our teaching.” ~ (Kumashiro, 2009, p. 41).
When I reflect on my past education and experience in school, I realize that not only was I learning the recommended and written curriculum, I was also learning the hidden curriculum. When I think of hidden curriculum, I think of lessons being taught by a teacher that are not necessarily spoken. They are lessons that can be shown through a teacher’s actions, moods, reactions to situations, and behaviors in class. I have now come to the realization that this hidden type of curriculum has been shaping me even though I did not know it since I started school in Kindergarten. Some examples of these hidden lessons that have showed up in my classes would be racism, sexism, classism, and ableism. These types of messages that were being sent to me in my small town of Tisdale were looked at in this way: race mattered and if you were white you had more privilege; males were dominant and had more authority; socioeconomic status mattered because if you were rich, more people respected you and liked you; and being physically able was beneficial because you were able to participate in sports, which then made you more physically fit and popular.
Other hidden messages that were being sent to me were the messages of what it meant to be a “good student” and even a “good teacher”. I looked at my teachers and saw them as “good teachers” because they were knowledgeable, caring, charismatic, patient, respectful, organized, creative, optimistic, and fun. The example they set made me want to become a “good teacher” as well. I also saw how the “good students” were praised for their good behavior in class and I wanted to continue to do that so that I would be seen as the “good student”. Now that I am aware of these hidden messages and the hidden curriculum, I will try to face this head on like Kumashiro (2009) suggests in his book called Against Common Sense: Teaching and learning toward social justice (p.41). I want to look at the hidden curriculum and put it right in front of me and question it and ask myself if I can do anything about this hidden curriculum. I want to be able to make the hidden curriculum stand out so that I can deal with it appropriately, make sense of it, and challenge it even though it is going to be uncomfortable. I want to make these hidden messages stand out, so that I can help create anti-oppressive education.
Kumashiro, K. (2009). Against common sense: Teaching and learning toward social justice. New York: Routledge. p.41.