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Hidden Curriculum

Posted on 2016.07.18 at 10:21
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So Al Jazeera is doing a 3 part documentary called "The Caliph." It's basically the history of Islam, at least from what I can tell so far. Whether we like to admit it or not, religion has shaped much of the world's history through policies, war, and unification. I love learning about history and other cultures, but one thing that struck me watching this was why is this the first I am learning of this part of history?

In America they did a fairly decent job of following the history books for European and American history, but next to nothing about the rest of the world. It made me frustrated that the history was so incomplete despite all the required courses to teach it. I can label countries all over the world, but I can't tell you a thing about the people that live in them aside from what I have learned in the media or of my own accord.

We cannot continue to teach such an incomplete history in our education if we want to truly be part of a global society, avoid wars, and break the cycle in which humanity keeps finding itself. Are we so afraid of teaching about another society or religious influences that we will avoid teaching about those countries all together? Apparently the answer is yes. It's very disappointing...and it further cements my desire to study curriculum design as this omission was undoubtedly intentional. It is so much easier to fuel fear and negativity about a group when there is no understanding of who they are to combat it.

I'm not sure if it's different anywhere else, and I do know there is limited time, but this is a grave disservice. It goes back to what is the point of educating the public...is to create mindless machines or is it to create critically thinking innovators and communicators? I can also say, I learned more in a semester of International Relations than I did in all my years of schooling regarding history and the world. Had I chosen not to take foreign languages and had I not had so many Asian friends, it would have been even worse. People need to pay attention to their curricula and to who is deciding what goes in it. It's so much more than a checklist of benchmarks to prove you are doing your job so they can pass a multiple choice test.

As we begin to look at curricula this school year, we must remind ourselves of the goal. The objectives are not the goal, nor are they the purpose of the curriculum or to be honest all that important in and of themselves. An objective is not something to be checked off once reached. Granted, if your curriculum is effective the objective will be achieved as a natural consequence of good teaching along the way to the goal, but the goal is the true purpose of the curriculum and we must be careful to not become so focused on the objectives that we lose sight of the goal.

This might rub some people the wrong way, but what is important is not what subject we teach. What IS important, is that we are teaching human beings and that how we teach THROUGH our content will greatly impact how they see the world and how they see themselves in it.

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