Understanding the Hidden Curriculum: Connecting teachers to themselves, their students, and the earth

Michelle Sager, Portland State University


Education is a powerful venue for transmitting culture, and cultures exist with a common set of beliefs, assumptions, and ways of understanding the world. Children learn not only the prescribes lesson plans, but also important lessons about how to use language, how to interact with others and with natural places, and how to view the world - simply by following the guidance of adults, and especially teachers. These hidden messages are often sent unintentionally and without awareness of their implications, and in a modernized, Western world, they come with problematic, unquestioned, and underlying assumptions about how we view ourselves, others, and the earth that are often oppressive and fragmenting. In order for K-12 educators to practice critical and empowering methods of teaching and learning, teacher education programs need to reconnect their students to the earth, to their students, and to their own unquestioned assumptions using place-based, critical, and transformational learning theory and practical application.