Term of Art: Hidden Curriculum

“hidden curriculum: What schools teach students by example and by their social organization, as opposed to the subject matter that they officially teach. For example, a school’s hidden curriculum might teach that boys are strong and undisciplined and girls are smart and well behaved; or that learning is something that is done to students rather than something that students must do for themselves; or that being popular is more important than being smart; of that societies are organized according to rules, that some of these rules are arbitrary, and that there are consequences for breaking the rules. Some of the hidden curriculum is good, and some of it is not. Some of what sociologists call the hidden curriculum is due not to socialization but to human nature. Like other large social organizations, schools need rules to function, and people need to learn what the rules are, when to follow them, and when it is appropriate to challenge them.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

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