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June 8, 2008 / C H Thompson

Hidden curriculum

The hidden curriculum is all the things a child learns in school that isn’t part of the National Curriculum. For example being punctual, following a time table, wearing a uniform, and doing as you’re told.

Functionalists see the hidden curriculum as a positive part of school life. This is because it is a form of secondary socialisation whereby children learn universalistic values and these values prepare children to integrate into wider society especially the world of work. So children learn how to arrive at work on time, follow a timetable and take orders from the boss.

However Marxists (Bowles & Gintis) are critical of the hidden curriculum because it replicates the workplace because all school does is produce a hard-working disciplined workforce and so education is really about getting people (especially the working classes) ready for the world of work. The education which we tend to understand as learning subjects is a secondary role of schools, as social inequalities are reproduced by the hidden curriculum.

Feminists see the hidden curriculum has reinforcing patriarchy through gender stereotyping.

Key words, hidden curriculum, functionalism, Marxism, Feminism, universalistic values, social inequalities, Bowles & Ginitis

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