hidden curriculum


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hidden curriculum

a set of values, attitudes, knowledge frames, which are embodied in the organization and processes of schooling and which are implicitly conveyed to pupils.

Although all schools have a formal curriculum comprising areas of academic knowledge which pupils are expected to acquire, it is the form of schooling, the messages transmitted as a result of its organization and practices, which is more powerful than the content of subjects. It promotes social control and an acceptance of the school's, and hence society's, authority structure.

Sociologists argue that the basic function of schooling is to reproduce society's VALUES and NORMS. Both structural-functionalists and Marxists agree on this, but for quite different reasons. The former argue that it is necessary in order to maintain the stability of the social order in the interest of all (see, for example, Parsons, 1959), whereas Marxists see the basic function of education as the reproduction of the social relations of capitalist economic production, and thus the maintenance of a class order which subordinates the proletariat. It is this latter function which is achieved predominantly through the hidden curriculum (see Bowles and Gintis, 1976).