The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology-
Part 1: A Causal Mystery video
Part 1: Script
Part 1: References
Part 1: A Causal Mystery video
Part 1: Script
Part 1: References
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 1 of 4- A Causal Mystery
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 1 of 4: A Demonstration of the Hidden Curriculum
This is Antonio Rocha.
He is a high school graduate.
In 2009 National Public Radio's Beth Fertig wrote a book about Antonio and two other New York City High School graduates because they successfully sued the state for failing to teach them to read.
Antonio, along with the anonymous siblings Yamilka and Alejandro went through years of instruction but failed to learn what they were taught until after the courts awarded them services that better served their needs.
This is not as unusual as you might think.
The 2009 High School Transcript Study by the National Center For Education Statistics reported that 1 in 4 graduates are, like Antonio below basic standards.
So, these kids were unusual for getting access to a remedy from the courts, but not for their educational outcomes.
With over half of all public school students now qualifying for free and reduced lunch and with learning disabilities on the rise we have a lot of kids with a variety of disadvantages that make them more likely to NOT learn what their teachers are teaching.
But, I'm a psychologist and we, psychologists, know that learning is not something that can be turned off.
Learning happens as long as you are alive and awake, so the question that I want to explore with you is: What are kids like Antonio learning during all those years in school?
Learning is happening because they are alive and usually kept awake, so something is being learned though clearly not the explicit curriculum everyone is told they are being taught.
This is where the hidden curriculum factors in.
The unsolved mystery of the hidden curriculum is what exactly it is that is lurking unseen in classrooms that can, despite everyone's best intentions, still systematically cause these kinds of bad outcomes.
And the fact is that we humans have had trouble with hidden causes before.
In London over the course of 16 years 10's of thousands of people died of an unseen cause called cholera.
Then in 1848 they decided to make a major infrastructure investment to clear the air.
You see, they had raw sewage running in their streets and the place was a stinking mess.
Also, at that time most people thought that cholera was caused by bad smells, by the miasma in the air.
The legislation that authorized that major infrastructure investment was called the Nuisances Removal and Disease Prevention Act.
They thought that by removing the nuisance of bad smells they were also preventing disease.
Unfortunately, their solution to clearing the sewage off the streets was to wash it into the river.
City officials deliberately turned the Thames into London's toilet.
But the river was also the drinking water for about 2/3 of London's residents.
A few years after the air-clearing infrastructure was operational cholera struck again.
It was the worst outbreak London ever saw and thousands more people died because city officials got it wrong.
Those particular actions taken tofight disease under miasma theory made the 1854 epidemic worse not better.
But, after studying the situation of disease with sufficient rigor, with that particular epidemic playing a major role, we eventually figured out that hidden things called germs cause disease.
Bad air had nothing to do with it.
Our well-being has several other hidden causes that were also difficult to figure out.
For instance, we are dependent on the oxygen hidden in the air and the material nutrients hidden in our food.
Careful scientific investigation ruled out other intuitively plausible explanations for our dependence on air and food.
So, having a problem with a hidden cause is not a new situation and scientific investigations have been crucial to solving this kind of causal mystery.
Now, let me give you a demonstration that will help our exploration.
I am going to give you two sets of instructions.
In preparation, please look at my face.
First, in any way you can, stop seeing my face.
In any way you can, stop seeing my face.
Pretty easy, all you had to do was look away, close your eyes, or block your view.
Please notice that the task of seeing my face is a deliberate, effortful, and avoidable one.
There is nothing about the task or how I presented it that could stop you from disobeying my instruction.
In other words, the volitional character of the task of seeing or not seeing my face gives you a valid choice in the matter.
You can do it or not.
In preparation for the second instruction, please look at my face again.
Now, as you continue to see my eyes, my cheeks and my mouth, using only your force of mental will power stop seeing my nose.
As you continue to see all the rest of my face, using only will power, stop seeing my nose.
In case you are still struggling with the task you should know that it is actually impossible.
Please notice that the task of seeing my nose as you continue to see the rest of my face is an automatic, unconscious, and UNavoidable one.
The task as presented does not give you any option in regards to my instruction.
In other words, the volitional character of the task of seeing or not seeing my nose gives you no valid choice in the matter.
You cannot do the requested task.
Because of the way all human brains are wired,there are facial recognition processes that take in faces as whole experiences.
The fact is that if you see my eyes, my cheeks, and my mouth, then that triggers in your brain a hidden facial recognizing mechanism.
Which means that if my nose is within view you will automatically see my nose, too.
And there is nothing you can do to change that.
The cognitive process hidden in your brain makes that happen.
You will never become aware of that process and it will never change short of physical damage to your brain.
The fact is that if I want to teach a lesson that involves seeing only my eyes, cheeks, and mouth then seeing my nose is a hidden curriculum that is automatically, unconsciously, and unavoidably included.
The fact that the lesson requires seeing any of the other parts of my face brings along the seeing of my nose as well, unless I make special arrangements to ensure that my nose is not available to be seen.
If I am a responsible principal or teacher and I know that seeing noses during that particular lesson is going to be a problem, then it is not enough to simply tell teachers and students not to see the noses.
If I am going to act responsibly then I have to deliberately shape the situation in which the lesson occurs in order to ensure that the appropriate methods of preventing nose viewing are both available and implemented effectively.
That kind of hidden cognitive process also deals with the behavior of other people, especially when they are trying to manage your behavior.
Whenever you are receiving instruction or otherwise being managed, the behavior of your manager is automatically evaluated by hidden cognitive processes in your brain.
If the person managing your behavior behaves in just the wrong way then your brain will automatically, unconsciously, and unavoidably devote less energy and attention to the tasks they want you to do.
If your manager behaves in a way that thwarts one of your psychological needs, then your brain will begin to direct your body to generate expressions of psychological distress, such as becoming anxious.
Your brain automatically dials down your motivation and at the same time diminishes your ability to do that work effectively.
What scientists have discovered is that we have primary needs for more than just air, water, food, shelter, and sleep.
We also have psychological needs that affect our well-being, how well we learn, and how effectively we work.
Those psychological needs are for relatedness, competence, and autonomy.
When any of our primary needs are neglected or thwarted we will not be able to work as effectively as possible.
And the more systematic the thwarting, the more systematic the compromise of our abilities.
In Part 2 I will finally address exactly what students like Antonio learned from the hidden curriculum.
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 1 of 4:
"...2009 National Public Radio's Beth Fertig wrote a book about Antonio ..."
Why Cant U Teach Me 2 Read? Three Students & a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test
"...2009 High School Transcript Study by the National Center For Education Statistics ..."
Nord, C., Roey, S., Perkins, R., Lyons, M., Lemanski, N., Brown, J., and Schuknecht, J. (2011). The Nation's Report Card: America's High School Graduates (NCES 2011- 462). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
"In London over the course of 16 years 10's of thousands of people died ..."
See Steven Berlin Johnson's Ghost Map & Bad Medicine
"...oxygen hidden in the air..."
See Steven Berlin Johnson's Invention fo Air
"...hidden cognitive process also deals with the behavior of other people..."
See Cognitive Evaluation Theory at SelfDeterminationTheory.org
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 2 of 4- Three Universal Lessons
Education Psychology and the Hidden Curriculum- Part 2 of 4:
Welcome to Part 2 where I will finally address exactly what illiterate high school graduates like Antonio learned from the hidden curriculum since they obviously did not learn from the explicit curriculum their teachers attempted to teach year after year after year.
The mainstream of classroom schooling is organized to impose a curriculum that requires deliberate, effortful, and avoidable learning processes, just like the process of seeing my face in the demonstration of the hidden curriculum in the first part of this video series.
But, a very important part of learning is automatic, unconscious and impossible to avoid, just like seeing my nose while seeing the other parts of my face.
The key element to notice is the fact that the curriculum is imposed.
The manner of the imposition determines which volitional characteristics of the learning process are relevant.
For some children the imposition is invisible and does not present an issue because they are either personally glad to learn what is presented or are embedded in a cultural context in which that is simply an unquestioned fact of life that people like them simply do that as part of being that kind of person.
For those children asking them to learn the curriculum is like asking them to not look at my face.
They are making a valid choice whether or not they do it, because both options are, for them, equally choosable.
The problem arises when children are in a context, either personally or culturally, that brings the imposition of the curriculum into their awareness, as an imposition.
When the imposition is perceived then there are automatic, unconscious, and unavoidable psychological processes that make the "request" to learn that curriculum very difficult or impossible to comply with.
Any random set of children who are subjected to an imposed curriculum can have volitionally opposite reactions depending on whether or not their cultural and personal circumstances are appropriately aligned with the imposition and how it is presented.
Thinking of schools from the perspective of society, it seems like we are simply making a perfectly reasonable request for all the children to learn what is taught.
But for some children our request is heard as the easy equivalent of "stop seeing my face" while for other children our request is heard as the equivalent of the impossible instruction to "stop seeing my unobstructed nose while continuing to see other parts of my face."
And when a conflict arises between the curricula then the automatic, unconscious, and unavoidable psychological processes of the hidden curriculum will always over-power the deliberate, effortful, and avoidable processes required for learning the explicit curriculum.
The hidden curriculum of imposed instruction has three key systematic large-scale results: dropping out, under achieving, and fauxchieving, which is when students go through the motions without mastering the material.
These results are explained in detail in my Educational Policy Video Series.
Schools routinely make behavioral demands of humans that many of those humans will either reject or not fully comply with because of the hidden curriculum of the three psychological needs.
Every single human being is affected, no matter what age, gender, color, race, religion, sexual identity, or any other individual characteristic.
This means that the harms associated with the hidden curriculum can negatively affect everyone; both minority and majority populations, privileged and oppressed, teachers and students.
Of course, its worse for those with additional disadvantages, but these harms do not discriminate.
When psychological needs are thwarted or neglected then humans have automatic cognitive processes that make it impossible for them to learn or perform work as effectively or efficiently as possible.
Remember, unless special arrangements are made, it is impossible to not see my nose while you are already seeing my eyes, cheeks, and mouth.
When teachers and students are systematically subjected to an environment that induces psychological distress due to the thwarting of their primary psychological needs they will not be as effective and efficient, as possible.
I propose that there are three things that all experiences teach us, humans, whether we are aware of it or not; these are the primary components of the hidden curriculum:
- how we manage our own and other peoples behavior, which I refer to as "power structures;"
- what and how we exchange with each other and our environment in order to meet our needs, which I call "exchange processes;" and
- the patterns of consciousness that result from being embedded in those particular power structures and exchange processes.
Power structures, exchange processes, and patterns of consciousness.
These are the essence of the hidden curriculum.
These are the components of what responsible managers arrange in order to ensure that the human beings they manage can work effectively and efficiently.
In schools these are the components of what responsible teachers and principals arrange in order to ensure that their students and teachers can learn and work effectively and efficiently.
And what is learned from the hidden curriculum is an attitude.
So the answer to the question of what illiterate children like Antonio learn in school is that they learn an attitude.
Let's consider attitude in detail for a moment.
Literally attitude means the orientation of an object in space.
For instance, my body is in a literal physical attitude in relation to the camera, to the gravitational pull of the earth, or to whatever frame of reference we decide is relevant.
Metaphorically, we use attitude to refer to the orientation of a mind to other minds, to a domain of activities, or to the world in which it is embedded.
The attitude lessons illiterate students are taught might include the ideas that: their interests and passions are irrelevant; that their needs are less important than the needs of teachers and more accomplished students; that their place in the power structure is at the bottom; and, perhaps, that reading, writing, and math are unpleasant and maybe even painful sources of trouble.
So, children such as Antonio do learn the most fundamental lessons that they are taught; they learn to occupy a particular place in the hierarchy of power relations, they learn to exchange certain kinds of behavior for attention (or the lack thereof) and most of all, they become accustomed to the patterns of thought and action that result from being at the bottom of the hierarchy with those kinds of exchange options.
Those lessons of the hidden curriculum preceded and overruled the explicit curriculum of symbol manipulation lessons, a.k.a. literacy, that their teachers attempted to impose.
The power structures and exchange processes of schools, and all human institutions, are learned automatically, unconsciously, and unavoidably.
The hidden curriculum teaches certain orientations of a mind to the situation in which it is embedded.
What the chronically illiterate person experiences is a pattern.
I call that pattern motivational amputation.
They develop attitudes that areobstacles to directing their attention towards the symbol manipulation behaviors we call 'literacy.'
Those kids had their motivation to learn those skills systematically diminished.
The school inadvertently cut them off from the very skills that they were supposed to be helping the students to engage with.
Through a process of consistent association between literacy skills and the need thwarting demands by the situations they experience in school the children learn that literacy is not a part of who they are since they always have to look to other kinds of activities for primary human need satisfaction.
This brings me to the key point of all my work in education: Teach kids attitude first.
You might interpret that statement as a suggestion, but the truth is that it is a fact of life that you are already teaching attitude first, because there is no other option.
However, I do have a suggestion.
My suggestion is to put as much or more time into designing and refining your hidden curriculum as you put into your explicit curriculum.
But let's face it power structures, exchange processes, and patterns of consciousness may be an elegant set of conceptual categories but they don't give you a practical sense of what you should be working on in your designing and refining process.
In the third episode I propose to solve the mystery of what exactly it is that is lurking unseen in classrooms that can, despite everyone's best intentions, still systematically cause bad outcomes.
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 2 of 4:
"...Education Policy Video Series..."
Education Policy Video Series
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 3 of 4- Mystery Solved
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 3 of 4: Mystery Solved
Welcome to Part 3.
In Part 2 of The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology I pointed out how the imposition of the explicit curriculum in most schools creates a detrimental hidden curriculum for some people.
The hidden curriculum of schooling is caused by the interaction between two things that are not directly observable in the classroom:
The first is all the different levels of policy from the feds, to the state, to the district, and throughout the school that guide the behavior of everyone in the system.
The second is the hidden cognitive mechanisms inside all the human brains in those classrooms that manage each person's motivation and attention in response to other people's behavior.
Professor Johnmarshal Reeve, now at Korea University, wrote a review of the literature about all the different reasons why teachers tend to thwart the primary need for autonomy by being controlling instead of autonomy supportive.
At least five of the seven reasons can be attributed to the hidden curriculum.
When humans are put into situations in which their primary needs are regularly thwarted they are in harm's way and fully justified in taking action to avoid that harm.
However, taking action to avoid that kind of harm in K-12 schools usually means disengagement.
Students physically disengage from school by dropping out.
They emotionally disengage from the classroom by failing to achieve.
Or, they intellectually disengage from particular subjects by fauxchieving, which means doing an absolute minimum of work to get whatever symbols of achievement they deem necessary which also frequently prevents them from attaining mastery of that subject.
Teachers become disengaged, first, from themselves through stress, then from their classes through burn-out, and then their school through quitting.
All these forms of disengagement are caused by the hidden curriculum of how those brains are behaviorally interacting with each other in the context of the policies used to guide that behavior.
The central problem of the entire school system today is, I conclude, motivational deficiencies.
A large body of peer-reviewed scientific research shows that the mainstream school system fails to support students to develop appropriate motivations.
I am confident the same is true of teachers because they have the same primary human needs as their students and are subjected to most of the same policies that provide behavioral guidance.
Like nutritional deficiencies these patterns of motivational deficiency are indicating that certain primary human needs are not getting met.
The cause of these deficiencies is a lack of nurturing where nurturing is simply the support of primary human needs.
Without intending to, policies at every level currently tend to reinforce disengagement leading to symptoms of motivational deficiency.
The motivational deficiencies are the result of the hidden influences of policies that inadvertently reinforced need thwarting management behaviors.
Policy change towards reinforcing nurturing management behaviors is the necessary leverage point for curing the systematic motivational deficiencies in the K-12 system.
With a proper policy framework in place we will be able to transform the hidden curriculum to nurture both teachers and children by supporting their primary human needs.
And we don't have to reinvent this wheel.
It turns out that in medicine it was effective practice that lead to better theory which changed both public health policies and medical practice.
In education today practice has lead theory as well.
Fortunately, attitude first education has been practiced for decades in certain kinds of schools throughout the world.
As an example of the relative efficiency of attitude first education, Daniel Greenberg who has been teaching math at Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts, since 1968 says that he is able to cover the entire 1st through 6th grade math curriculum over only twenty weeks with an hour a week of instruction with children of a variety of ages who have ASKED for that course.
At Sudbury schools, which are an example of democratic schools, the hidden curriculum is the only required curriculum because all lessons are taught only at the request of students.
It may or may not be practical to replicate that particular school model in any given community today, but the basic principle of attitude first education is universally applicable and can be replicated at scale.
My thesis research on patterns of motivation in school settings included the Village Free School, also a democratic school, and the Village Home Education Resource Center which bears more operational resemblance to a community college than to a Sudbury school.
Despite being organized in a very different way from Sudbury or Village Free it still manages to implement an attitude first K-12 education to good effect.
How the schools are organized does not seem to be the common denominator amongst nurturing schools, so far.
The common denominator seems to be self-directed learning.
And to anticipate a common question other studies have shown that self-directed students are normal kids and go on to lead normal lives.
So, what we know is that school policies that reinforce alienation, controlling management practices, and/or the dumbing down of the work that needs to be done will inevitably fail to fully educate a high proportion of student because those policies contradict human nature as minimally specified by primary human needs.
What we need is a system guided by policies that will reinforce human need support for everyone in the system.
My book Every Parent's Dilemma: Why Do We Ignore Schools That Nurture Children? proposes a policy resolution to create the leverage point needed to protect nurturing behaviors from misguided efforts to exert more need-thwarting control over teachers and students.
My next book will deal with the larger question of redesigning the education system for large-scale implementation of attitude first principles.
Now, if you are getting what I am saying then you realize that I am presenting a serious indictment of most schools in the world today.
And if your identity is tied to one of those schools you might take my criticism personally.
But, please, rest assured the problem is not you, it is the system and how it has been organized to shape your behavior in ways that you are not even aware of.
The fourth episode in this series is entitled, "Don't Despair, It's Not Your Fault" and I will discuss taking responsibility for the hidden curriculum.
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 3 of 4:
"...Johnmarshal Reeve, now at Korea University, wrote a review of the literature about all the different reasons why teachers tend to thwart the primary need for autonomy..."
Reeve, J. (2009) "Why Teachers Adopt a Controlling Motivating Style Toward Students and How They Can Become More Autonomy Supportive";Educational Psychologist, 44(3), 159-175
"A large body of peer-reviewed scientific research shows that the mainstream school system fails to support students to develop appropriate motivations."
Bouffard, T., Marcoux, M., Vezeau, C., & Bordeleau, L. (2003). "Changes in self- perceptions of competence and intrinsic motivation among elementary school children." British Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 171-186.
Corpus, J. H., McClintic-Gilbert, M. S., & Hayenga, A. O. (2009). "Within-year changes in children's intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations: Contextual predictors and academic outcomes." Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 154-166. DOI: 10.1016/j. cedpsych.2009.01.001
Gottfried, A. E., Fleming, J. S., & Gottfried, A. W. (2001). "Continuity of academic intrinsic motivation from childhood through late adolescence: A longitudinal study." Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 3-13. DOI: 10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.52
Harter, S. (1981). "A new self-report scale of intrinsic versus extrinsic orientation in the classroom: Motivational and informational components." Developmental Psychology, 17, 300-312. DOI: 10.1037/0012-16184.108.40.2060
Hunter, J. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). "The positive psychology of interested adolescents." Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 32, 27-35. DOI: 10.1023/A:1021028306392
Lepper, M. R., Corpus, J. H., & Iyengar, S. S. (2005). "Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic correlates." Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 184-196. DOI: 10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.11
Otis, N., Grouzet, F. M. E., & Pelletier, L. G. (2005). "Latent motivational change in an academic setting: A 3-year longitudinal study." Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 170-183. DOI: 10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.168
Pintrich, P. R. (2003). "A motivational science perspective on the role of student motivation in learning and teaching contexts." Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 667-686. DOI: 10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.1247
Prawat, R. S., Grissom, S., & Parish, T. (1979). "Affective development in children, grades 3 through 12." The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 135, 37-49.
Vedder-Weiss, D., & Fortus, D. (2011). "Adolescents' declining motivation to learn science: Inevitable or not?" Journal Of Research In Science Teaching, 48(2), 199-216. DOI: 10.1002/tea.20398
Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., & Rodriguez, D. (1998). "The development of children's motivation in school contexts." Review Research in Education, 23, 73-118. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1167288
"...cover the entire 1st through 6th grade math curriculum with an hour a week of instruction over twenty weeks..."
"Sudbury Valley School"
"Village Home Education Resource Center"
"Every Parent's Dilemma: Why Do We Ignore Schools That Nurture Children?"
See the Schools of Conscience website
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 4 of 4- Don't Despair, Its Not Your Fault
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 4 of 4: Don't Despair, Its Not Your Fault
Welcome to Part 4.
In this video series entitled The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology I have so far indicted most schools in the world today of harming children.
And I left off the last episode noting that if your identity is tied to one of those schools you might take my criticism personally.
But, please, rest assured the problem is not you, it is the system and how it has been organized over many generations to shape the situation of schooling in ways of which you are not even aware.
Because it is a large-scale system, even if you are the most sophisticated, knowledgeable, and wonderful teacher in the entire world the system is still bigger and over time has more power to subvert your best efforts.
So, in the end, against isolated individual efforts, the system always wins, no matter how brilliant the individual.
The K-12 classroom school system is a very large, very well meant, and logical extension of what was known to be true when it was developed.
We now know things to be different and some honest mistakes were made, so correction is in order.
But we need to correct them with organized and coordinated actions that will ultimately shift the policies that guide the system.
That system was designed logically following perfectly well-intentioned beliefs about people and learning that turned out to be wrong.
Let me give you a parallel historical example to illustrate what I mean.
Imagine you are a hospital surgeon in the year 1840 and you, along with the majority of your colleagues, believe in the miasma theory of disease.
In other words, you believe that bad smells cause disease and you also believe that bleeding, cupping, and purging your patients can enable any bad miasmatic humors to be released from their bodies.
Based on your belief you will insist that patients get fresh air as much as possible even if that means opening windows in the middle of a frigid winter, you would not bother to wear any kind of gloves during surgery, and between surgeries rather than wash your hands you would be more likely to dab perfume on them to make them smell nice.
Even if you are one of the best doctors in the world at one of the best hospitals at least forty and as many as eighty of every one hundred of your patients get infections and many of those people die.
Now imagine that you miraculously time traveled to today.
You would learn from your modern colleagues how the current medical establishment operates under germ theory and how less than seven in every one hundred of their patients get infections.
And even those who get infections almost always survive.
This leads you to logically conclude with great sadness that your belief in the miasma theory was a major cause of death for your patients.
But, now here's the crucial question, how responsible is a surgeon from 1840 for the consequences of the systematic ignorance of the entire medical field for things which had not even been invented yet?
Of course you will feel bad and regret the consequences of your ignorance but, you and the entire medical establishment to which you belong were mistaken, you did not and could not possibly have known any better.
Throughout almost all of the 1800's surgeons were operating within a system of medicine that failed to understand the true causes of disease.
As a result their patients died left and right all over the place at rates that we would find completely unacceptable today.
But, their behavior was completely understandable and the results excusable given what they knew at the time, even though their knowledge was incorrect.
Of course, now that you know better your responsibility as a surgeon has changed for your future patients, but you should not berate yourself for your previous performance.
By the same logic if you are a school teacher or a principal today you are not to blame for failing to nurture your students or teachers in the past.
It is important to realize that your behavior has been perfectly consistent with a powerful large-scale system of schooling which happens to be misguided by incorrect assumptions about people and learning.
School teachers and principals today are operating within a system that is designed as if education is merely the delivery of knowledge, skills, and information;
In which nurturing the children is somebody else's responsibility.
Now we know that education is better understood as a mental mapping process in which everyone in school arrives with flawed maps.
The primary task is to figure out how to work together to improve those mental maps so everyone can create effective strategies for navigating their lives successfully.
I will talk more about these metaphors elsewhere.
And we also now know that nurturing children must be the responsibility of every adult who interacts with the children, not just their parents.
By nurturing I mean simply providing support for the kids to satisfy their primary human needs which include the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Those three needs are currently treated as if they are equivalent to entertainment.
If a school fails to provide entertainment, then they would likely be congratulated for keeping distractions from school work to a minimum.
The pseudo-need for entertainment can be adequately fulfilled in other contexts besides school.
In the same way, responsibility for those needs are assumed to be in somebody else's hands, so schools don't worry too much about them.
But there are over 30 years of research data showing that children are harmed by this neglect of those psychological needs.
Those needs are more like air than entertainment.
A school failing to provide enough air for students is inexcusable because of the harm they would cause the children that they are supposed to be caring for.
Failing to support primary psychological needs needs to become as unthinkable as failing to provide enough air.
The field of education psychology needs to focus on redesigning the hidden curriculum.
The fact that children's primary psychological needs are chronically unmet in most schools currently means that in spite of everyone in schools being completely unaware of learning it, and completely unaware of having participated in teaching it, there is a pervasive hidden curriculum that teaches everyone in the school system that autonomy, competence, and relatedness are not important.
We currently have too many schools in which controlling instructional behaviors are a consistent pattern.
Controlling instructional behaviors are the literal, need thwarting opposite of instructional behaviors that are supportive of the primary psychological need for autonomy.
Those schools are routinely demanding that children learn an imposed curriculum.
When the imposition becomes an issue then the demand becomes the equivalent of asking children to do the impossible task of not looking at my nose while continuing to see all the rest of my face.
The children are being asked to make behavioral "choices" that are not, in fact, choices, at all.
And complying with those demands is psychologically harmful because complying thwarts at least one of the children's primary human needs.
In fact, all the humans in school are subjected to this kind of damage via the hidden curriculum when it thwarts their primary human needs.
Education psychology should be exploring what it takes to transform the hidden curriculum to support, instead of thwart, the primary human needs of both children and teachers.
Current education policies implemented by districts at the command of state and federal legislatures via their departments of education are creating situations that encourage schools to exert instructional control over children and their teachers by imposing demands even though that causes the neglect of primary psychological needs.
This is wrong.
All adults responsible for children must ensure they have been nurtured before providing academic enrichment.
Now, academic enrichment is a wonderful thing and it is a perfectly reasonable requirement of soldiers, voters, drivers, leaders, and workers to have at least basic academic skills.
School children are not yet old enough to assume those roles.
But they are old enough to participate with their family in making meaningful decisions about what kinds of courses and activities are worth pursuing in a community college-like setting as demonstrated for over 10 years at the Village Home Education Resource Center.
They are old enough to participate in helping other members of their school community hold each other accountable in a democratic school, as Sudbury Valley School has been doing for over 47 years and the Village Free School has been doing for over a decade.
How we engage children in assuming meaningful roles in their current life will be an important part of how well they are prepared to assume meaningful roles in later life.
If I am going to act responsibly as a principal or teacher then I have to deliberately shape the situation in which lessons occur.
The situation I create needs to respect the inherent constraints on how attention is paid by students and teachers.
Human nature as minimally specified by primary human needs is such that we are driven to be simultaneously competent, autonomous, and relate meaningfully to others.
These are the constraints upon how attention is paid by students, and all the other humans, in schools.
Offering a responsible schooling situation requires us to act within these constraints.
The challenge we face is to recreate the situation of mainstream schooling through policies at every level of the school system.
We need to remove barriers to students meeting their primary psychological needs and we need to reinforce nurturing behaviors throughout school communities so that they become pervasive facts of school life.
Here at Schools of Conscience we are developing tools to teach teachers and principals the basic skills they need to provide support for primary need satisfaction and we are also organizing to ensure that nurturing becomes protected behavior.
One of our key strategies is to develop a new form of accreditation model that can be applied to any school, including democratic schools.
Democratic schools are so radically different from mainstream schools that they are not effectively accommodated by traditional school accreditation systems.
If this is of interest to you I encourage you to explore my site, schools-of-conscience.org.
My site has lots of information and provides affordable access to a variety of tools that you might find useful for building your capacity for nurturing.
I also hope the site will build connections among those of us who recognize this important challenge.
Thanks for watching.
The Hidden Curriculum and Education Psychology- Part 4 of 4:
"...with less than 7 in 100 of their patients get infections."
"...education is better understood as a mental mapping process ... "
P.S. Here are a few resources to learn more about the term "hidden curriculum."
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