The hidden curriculum referred to the unstructured and unofficial lessons and values provided to students during their period in my school. It was different from the formal curriculum in the sense that the formal curriculum includes structured courses, learning activities and lessons that students are expected to engage in addition to skills and knowledge that instructors present. In other words, the hidden curriculum includes implicit and cultural information that is provided to students while pursuing their studies (Enns, Soci 1121, Education Notes, Spring 2017). When pursuing my studies in India, which is also m native country, the hidden curriculum took the form of group projects, the perception towards students from various ethnic groups, extra-curricular activities such as drama, music and sports, acceptable behavior, and the interaction between the teachers and students.
Ways that the hidden curriculum worked to reproduce the class system in my case was to the cultural values and expectations. The expectations, in this case, include behavioral and academic expectations whereby rules and class work aligned with the social background and academic abilities of individuals respectively. However, I discovered that some teachers were quite lenient when it came to punishing students in regards to ethnic background. At times students from foreign communities received mostly detentions while students from the local communities groups would receive suspensions as forms of punishment. The values mostly aligned with rewards whereby students who exhibited good behavior such as obeying school rules received awards. Therefore, most of the students ensured to maintain good behavior.
The cultural capital that I had was adapting in any social environment. I was brought up in a neighborhood that contained people from various backgrounds, and race and hence learning about their likes and dislikes, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, lifestyle and their levels of interaction. I would, therefore, fit in any social group and adjust to their patterns of behavior to create an understanding. I think that the cultural knowledge distinguished me from some of my classmates as I easily interacted with various students in schools and was more proactive when compared to those that stuck with friends from similar ethnic backgrounds. I was also fluent in the English language, a part from Hindi and Punjabi, such that I could easily associate with students from other countries who mostly spoke English. My ability to adapt to various social groups and being bilingual gave me an advantage over most students in my class in regards to socialization.
I think that the hidden curriculum enabled me to develop values regarding respect and appreciating each person. The manner in which some of the teachers treated students from diverse backgrounds allowed me to appreciate the differences and respect each person. The school policies focused on values such as respect, honesty, obedience, and treating each other without any form of discrimination. The policies allowed me to practice good conduct inside and outside the school environment and hence a benefit to my overall development.
I feel that most of the decisions were made through academic abilities rather than social characteristics. The tests and instructions were provided depending on one's level of understanding in the sense that they were not too difficult or too easy. Students that required more time received further instructions and guidance from the teachers. Also, students that exhibited excellent academic skills were referred to schools that supported their skills regardless of race. However, when it came to punishments, I noticed that most of the students from foreign countries and high social status received tolerable punishments such as detention and counseling. However, most of the students from my community and those from the lower social class received more restricting punishments such as suspension and arranging books in the library.
I cannot recall being streamed into any particular course as most courses were aligned with the academic abilities and interests of students. However, I noticed that students from the Asian communities, particularly the Chinese, were streamed into science courses. The view was the belief Chinese students were brilliant when it came to technical subjects when compared to the rest. Most of the students from my community mostly engaged in humanities. This can be attributed to the role models and the perception that the students had regarding certain subjects. However, most students chose courses basing on their interest and not necessarily through being tracked or streamed.
The socialization depending on the number and the ethnic groups pursuing technical and humanities courses affected the way students approached the courses. From a personal perspective, the view that most Chinese students took technical courses and that most of the students from my community mostly engaged in humanities influenced the choice of courses considered by student despite selecting courses basing on interest. In as much as they were fair in regards to interests and academic abilities, the view that Chinese students favored sciences while students from my community favored humanities influenced the choices made when it came to choosing courses.
From a personal viewpoint, the fact that I had chosen my courses basing on interest, I experienced fewer challenges when applying for post-secondary education. I aligned the social pressure with the fact that most students from my community are allowed to express their independence when it comes to pursuing their interests.
Selecting courses basing on my interest motivated me to stick to my career interest in addition to improving my attitude towards school work. I felt in control of my choices as every choice aligned with my interests. The encouragement from my instructors and my morale boosted my performance especially since I experienced less pressure when making educational choices. Aspects such as stereotyping or social pressures did not affect my choices.
I think that my ethnic background influenced the expectations that my teachers and administrators in regards to my scholastic achievement. I did not receive any social pressure as the instructors encouraged me to pursue courses basing on my interests. The perception was that pursuing my interests will enable me to gain high grades. I received less pressure on selecting courses when compared to students from the Chinese background as most of them were encouraged to pursue technical courses. Foreign students, especially from the U.S, received less pressure as they were allowed to choose courses as per their abilities and interest when compared to the Chinese due to the stereotyping associated with skills in technical subjects.
The fact that I was allowed to engage in courses as per my interests and abilities affected my performance and my attitudes towards my academics. I enjoyed what I learned and hence got good grades in my subjects. I set higher goals and ensured that I participated in every activity as per the academic requirements. Therefore, by the end of my studies, I did not regret the choices that I had made.
My expectations influenced my choice of post-secondary education as I made my decisions basing on my interest. I did not have a hard time settling on a course as I was certain about the things that I was interested in. I got maximum support from my teachers and parents and hence settled well in my post-secondary education. Possibly, I received support because of my race as most students from my community were allowed to exercise their choices basing on their interest when compared to the Chinese students who were affected by stereotypes and the some of the students from my community who were affected by social pressures.
Enns, Soci 1121, Education Notes, Spring 2017.
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