A teacher therefore acts as a buffer or interpreter, deciding what their pupils are prepared to know

A teacher therefore acts as a buffer or interpreter, deciding what their pupils are prepared to know

A teacher therefore acts as a buffer or interpreter, deciding what their pupils are prepared to know. A teacher might also opt to be highly strategic, hiding some expectations from their pupils and showing them short-cuts in order to get top marks possible. This might be especially obvious under time pressure or near exams. For example, a teacher might really value attention to detail and emphasise the need to learn the correct spelling of key terminology. Nonetheless, many exam papers do not allocate marks to spelling provided that the examiner is able to understand what word was intended. There are even cases, for example in GCSE English, where one of the papers has marks for spelling while the other does not. a strategic teacher could therefore maximise marks due to their pupils by revealing this aspect of the hidden curriculum while preparing for particular papers, but it is counter-productive to that teacher’s own personal expectations to reveal the low value provided to spelling too early in the school year.

Finally, the method that you feel about the positives or negatives of a hidden curriculum will largely depend on your political views. The idea of a hidden curriculum has its roots in Marxist philosophies, in which a hidden curriculum is almost entirely negative because it is an underhand way to force young ones into learning to be compliant and passive employees as time goes by. If you agree with this view, then you might want to expose some of the hidden curriculum to your pupils to simply help them avoid becoming wage slaves – teaching them how to ‘play the game’ in assessments might therefore be seen as a liberating act. Conversely, you might feel that since society pays for education it has a moral right to set the agenda for how the next generation will act in terms of citizenship and their place in society.

What strategies can we use to minimise negative hidden curriculums in teaching practice?

One of the defining features of a hidden curriculum is not just that there was some kind of a secret agenda, but that many of the intentions, values or expectations in a hidden curriculum can not be made explicit – there is something intangible about them that can not be put into words. Obviously, this will not at all times function as case, and another simple strategy is for teachers to critically evaluate and reflect on their practice so that they can be more honest with pupils by making as much as they can explicit. Nonetheless, trying to be explicit about many values or expectations could risk over-simplifying or creating confusion.

Addressing the hidden curriculum outside of assessment can be more problematic because the hidden curriculum could permeate many aspects of what we do with our pupils. Moreover, many aspects of the hidden curriculum are useful for the smooth running of schools. The Marxist critique of hidden curriculums creating compliant ‘wage slaves’ is clearly undesirable, but a completely laissez-faire approach would be chaos in our classrooms. We would even question how appropriate it is for a teacher to expose aspects of the hidden curriculum as it could be interpreted as subversive behaviour. Perhaps the best defence contrary to the negative aspects of a hidden curriculum is a strong foundation of critical thinking and self-reflection skills, enabling pupils to believe for themselves how they are being persuaded to behave in certain ways. Equally, you might feel that your place as a teacher is not to encourage pupils to question authority but rather to reinforce the values which you agreed to when you qualified.


The wide-reaching role schools play in society implies that almost everything teachers and pupils do is imbued with hidden meanings and intentions.https://medium.com/@vladimirtrofimov049/best-3-biology-essay-samples-926566c2efb4 The concept of a hidden curriculum helps us to see what a few ideas we have been putting across to our learners, and reflect on whether these are appropriate. Schools prepare young ones to enter the workforce and society in general, so a school is often seen as a safe space to think about the expectations and explore the boundaries.

The idea of a hidden curriculum also exposes some of the flaws in our assessment system and how challenging it can be to simply help pupils understand what is expected of them. Reflecting on the hidden curriculum should help you to think about whether you are helping pupils to develop new skills and abilities or whether you are helping them to pass an assessment of those skills and abilities. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, and this too is a variety of hidden curriculum as we try to better understand how each individual pupil experiences the school curriculum in its broadest sense.


Becker, H., Geer, B., and Hughes, E. (1968). Making the Grade. London: Transaction.

Jackson, P. (1968). Life in Classrooms. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Marton, F. & Säljö, R. (1976). On Qualitative Differences on Learning: I – Outcome and Process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4-11.

Richardson, M., Abraham, C., and Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Psychological Bulletin 138(2), 353-387.

Sambell, K. and McDowell, L. (1998). The construction of the hidden curriculum: messages and meanings in the assessment of student learning, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 23(4), 391-402.

Snyder, B. (1971). The Hidden Curriculum. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


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Welcome to chapter 2 associated with ‘Inclusion’ module. This chapter will start from the beginning of this concept, discussing just what Inclusion actually is. Developing a strong understanding of why inclusion is important, and what constitutes inclusion, is the first step to building it into your teaching practice.

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By the end of this chapter, we would like you:

What is Pragmatism?

By nature, pragmatists are pluralists – they think that that there are many different realities, with every person searching for truth and finding meaning in life according to their experiences. They place a great deal of emphasis upon change, emphasizing the fact that the world is a work in progress, a reality that will be in a constant state of flux. They believe in utilitarian principles – the greatest good for the greatest number, and the fulfilment and meeting of human need.Pragmatists believe in experimentation, placing more importance on the notion of being active in learning, giving more credence to actions than a few ideas (Educational System, 2013). Pragmatists judge something to be good if it offers achieved what it set out to do; essentially, pragmatism is an approach towards successfully “”… getting things done”” (Talisse and Aikin, 2008, p. 1).

Pragmatism developed as a school of thought in the 19th century with the work of CS Peirce, William James and John Dewey, who are often referred to as the ‘classical’ pragmatists. Despite having different views on a variety of different issues, they have common themes which are empiricist in the broadest sense, although they reject much of the psychological picture that will be linked to empiricism (Godfrey-Smith, 2015). They focused upon the links between a individual experience and their thoughts in relation to actions. To all intents and purposes, pragmatists do not believe in the notion that there are a set of foundational beliefs which underpin all others. They prefer to assess opinions and methods of inquiry in light of their usefulness in achieving set goals and/or their consequences.

how can it apply to Education?

As far as the pragmatist is concerned, activity is the cornerstone of the educative process. They adopt an attitude akin to Constructivist thinkers such as Piaget and Vygotsky who think that children acquire their own knowledge through a means of experimentation in, and conversation making use of their environment (Moore, 2000). Pragmatists regard every activity and conversation as part of the educative process, which by necessity involves a constant restructuring of those experiences in order to apply them to different circumstances, thereby forming new habits (Kivenen and Ristela, 2003). Pragmatists maintain that as society changes and individuals mature, their views and their experiences will change their existing knowledge and therefore their potential actions as time goes by. It is vital to them that problem-solving is at the core of all education, making the educative process empirical and experimental in nature (Educational System, 2013).

As far as education is concerned, there are several implications which result from a pragmatic stance. Pragmatists think that education should be an ever-evolving means of reviewing, reconstructing and integrating their experiences as individuals move through life. Having said that, pragmatists hold the view that it is important to keep up the culture of the past within societies whilst tackling the situations which occur in the present and to merge the two. Experimentation and real-life experiences support the key to real knowledge, in that these activities bring about growth and change in individuals as well as the societies in which they live. The child and their needs should be at the centre of the educative process as they need to have the freedom to discover their specific inherent abilities and their potential, which can be supported and developed through their schooling.

The parallels with the views of Vygotsky can also be seen in the pragmatists’ views of education as a social process. As a results of being sociable, individuals are able to gain more knowledge through interacting with whomever is in their environment, or the environment itself, in order to make progress. It really is believed that the social process will induce the development of attitudes and feelings which are acceptable to society at large which will enable individuals to take their place and ‘fit in’ joyfully as time goes by. Nonetheless, this is a process which continues throughout life due to individuals continually reflecting upon their experiences and adjusting their attitudes and actions, in addition to developing their personality. As far as this school of thought is concerned, there should not be any specific preconceived aims and objectives within education – the direction and aims of any educative provision should be in line with the child’s experience. Pragmatists think that knowledge is one collective unit, leaving them with the need to devise a curriculum that will be dynamic and flexible to the extent that young ones are able to develop problem-solving skills and adapt to the constantly changing world around them (Educational System, 2013; Sankaranarayanan and Sindhu, 2012).

Pragmatists support the view that education should be ‘learning by doing’. It should therefore be grounded in children’s experiences in addition to different activities and preparation due to their future lives. It really is their view that in addition to school subjects, time should be afforded to young ones to engage in free, meaningful social conversation within the curriculum (Shawal, 2016). The child is at the centre of the educative process – their needs, their interests and aspirations. Which means the approaches adopted for teaching should be both flexible and dynamic to the extent that they can be modified to cater for the subject matter, as well as the needs and abilities of the young ones. This type of approach towards education sees practitioners adopting the role of a friend and guide, who is aware of the interests of individual young ones, in addition to having an understanding of the changing nature of society (Witzky, n.d.; Shawal, 2016). Teachers provide problems due to their pupils which are designed to stimulate and interest them, with the expectation that they find solutions to them, either as individuals or in groups (Educational System, 2013; Whitzky, n.d.). The function of all educators is to act as a facilitator in terms of the activities and materials, in order that the children are able to have a meaningful educational experience. Teachers also act as a resource in their own right and help to guide students in the right direction.

Strengths and Limitations

A number of criticisms have been levelled at the notion of pragmatism. For example, the fact that this philosophy does not espouse any absolute standards is regarded as a limitation. According to pragmatists, truth changes according to circumstances, times and places and that truths are created as a results of our experiences. These opinions may lead to corruption and vice within society, as over-arching values and standards of moral behaviour create cohesion within society, and with them the ability to evaluate conduct within society. It really is noticeable that pragmatists would not have any form of spiritual values, with the philosophy advocating a more extreme types of utilitarianism (Shawal, 2016). an absence of spiritual values and some kind of moral code can create conflict and disharmony; whilst it really is true that human values change as societies change, it is important for the upkeep of law and order that there is a set of common values to live by. This rejection of spiritual values and a moral code is reflected in a pragmatists belief that individuals should only concentrate upon the present and the future as opposed to dwelling upon yesteryear (Educational System, 2013).

In terms of education, the fact that pragmatists set no predetermined aims for education could be regarded as a serious flaw. If there are no aims and objectives attached to the educative process, how is achievement to be evaluated and/or assessed? How can planning of activities to capture the interest of young ones be accomplished? It is also very difficult to construct a curriculum where all knowledge are gained from life experiences. Devising and selecting project work to achieve a holistic curriculum is extremely difficult (Educational System, 2013) – in addition to the issue of planning, practitioners themselves may not be able to cope with the demands of this approach towards teaching and learning due to having to act in a supervisory capacity in the place of a direct purveyor of information (Neeraja, 2003).

The strengths of pragmatism lie in its view that the child should be at the centre of the educative process. They focus upon the notion that children develop as individuals due to unique efforts, based upon their experiences and their conversation with the environment and those around them. Young ones are actively encouraged to engage with their learning through problem-solving and addressing projects which allows them to explore and discover things using their imagination and creativity. a pragmatic education is a practical education, in that it prepares young ones very effectively for the future lives. It is also an education that stresses democratic values and collective responsibility which they believe allows individuals to develop skills, attributes and traits which will fit in well with society at large (Educational System, 2013).

Links to Practice

Dewey’s emphasis on educating the whole child led him to be viewed as “”… the father of Progressive education”” (State University.com, n.d., para 2). Progressivists support the view that education’s sole focus should be on the whole youngster as opposed to the teacher or the content of the curriculum. This type of philosophy stresses the need for students to test a few ideas through active experimentation and that learning is started upon the questions that learners come across through experiencing the world. It is an active rather than a passive process (Cohen, 1999). It is important to remember that Dewey’s writings and philosophy of education move one step away from dogmatic Pragmatism, in that he joined the a few ideas of thinking and doing [the cognitive together with kinaesthetic] (State University.com, n.d.) as a part of the process of learning and making progress, in the place of the notion that knowledge could be repeated to the extent that its application became habitual. The amalgam of those differing views helped Progressives to develop a philosophy of education which enables young ones to understand the connection between thought and action makes it possible for them the opportunity to participate in a democratic society when they reach maturity (State University.com, n.d.).

The influence of experiential learning can be seen throughout the educative system in the Western world, particularly within the United Kingdom. The notions of experiential learning as well as its importance to kids’ development can be seen in the Early Years Foundation Stage [EYFS] (Department of Education [DfE], 2014) framework which places young ones at the heart regarding the learning process. The emphasis is on experiential learning through play, the origins of which can be traced back once again to Isaacs (1932), Montessori (1966) and the Developmentally Appropriate Practice Approach (Bredekamp and Copple, 1997). The EYFS acknowledges the need for every youngster to be in receipt of individual treatment through the creation of an environment which provides due to their personal needs whilst helping them to develop socially through positive relationships. This encourages them to become aware of their capabilities and facilitates the development into self-confident folks who are able to interact with others in their learning. The National Curriculum (DfE, 2014a) also places a great deal of emphasis upon young ones gaining experience through engaging in authentic problem-solving activities. In order to provide for kids’ holistic development, primary schools often take part in project work which draws together different subject areas, whilst placing an emphasis on both literacy and numeracy. It really is within Key Stages 1 and 2 that there is most evidence of experiential learning, although secondary school education provides opportunities for young ones to engage with active learning through experimentation in science classes and in problem-solving across a variety of different subjects.


Dewey’s impact on education should not be underestimated. His ideas about experiential education have ensured that generations of learners have been provided with skills for life and an enthusiasm for learning which runs throughout their lives. It could be argued that his vision has opened a vast array of different learning opportunities from young ones in the classroom, to adults in the workplace, most of which are based upon life experiences.

Select bibliography

Bredekamp, S., Copple, C. (1997) Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs. (Revised Edition) Washington: National Association for the Education of Young Children

Bruce, T. (2004) Developing Learning in Early Childhood. London: Sage

Bruce, T. (1996) Helping Young Children to Play. London: Hodder & Stoughton

Cohen, L. M. (1999) ‘Section III – Philosophical Perspectives in Education.’ Retrieved 12th January 2017 from http://oregonstate.edu/instruction/ed416/PP3.html

Department for Education (2014) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage: Setting the standards for learning, development and care for young ones from birth to five. London: Department for Education

Department for Education (2014a) The National Curriculum in England. Framework Document. London: Department for Educaation

Godfrey-Smith, P. (2015) ‘Pragmatism: Philosophical Aspects.’ Wright, J. (Ed) (2nd Ed) International Encyclopedia of the social and behavioural sciences Vol. 18 Oxford: Elsevier pp. 803 – 807

Groves, L., McNish, H. (2008) Baseline Study of Play as Merrylee Primary School, Glasgow. Forestry Commission Scotland

Hughes, B. (2006) Playtypes: Speculations and Possibilities. London: London Centre for Playwork Education and Training

Isaacs, S. (1932) The Nursery Years The Mind regarding the youngster from Birth to Six Years. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul

Kivenen, O., Ristela, P. (2003) ‘From Constructivism to a Pragmatist Conception of Learning.’ Oxford report on Education Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 363 – 375

Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

Montessori, M. (1966) The Secret of Childhood. New York: Ballantine Books

Moore, A. (2000) Teaching and Learning: Pedagogy, Curriculum and heritage. London: Routledge

Neeraja, K. P. (2003) Textbook of Nursing Education. New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd

Nilson, L. B. (2010) Teaching At Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors. (3rd Ed) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Northern Illinois University (n.d.) ‘Experiential learning.’ Retrieved 11th January 2017 from http://www.niu.edu/facdev/_pdf/guide/strategies/experiential_learning.pdf

O’Brien, L., Murray, R. (2005) ‘Forest schools in England and Wales: Woodland space to learn and grow.’ Environmental Education Autumn, pp. 25 – 27

Rae, L. (1997) Planning and Designing Training Programmes. Aldershot: Gower Publishing Ltd

Riley, K. (2007) ‘Re-connecting with the natural environment – forest schools in Sussex.’ Environmental Education Spring, p. 7

Sankaranarayanan, B., Sindhu, B. (2012) Learning and Teaching Nursing. (4th Ed) New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd

Sayeed, Z., Guerin, E. (2000) Early Years Play: A Happy Medium for Assessment and Intervention. London: David Fulton

Shawal, M. (2017) ‘Pragmatism in Education: Study Notes.’ Retrieved 12th January 2017 from http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/education/pragmatism-in-education-study-notes/69152/

State University.com (n.d.) ‘Progressive Education – Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Life-Adjustment Progressivism.’ Retrieved 12th January 2017 from http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2336/Progressive-Education.html

Talisse, R. B., Aikin, S. F. (2008) Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum International Publishing Group

Vocabulary.com (n.d.) ‘Pragmatic.’ Retrieved 11th January https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/pragmatic

Witzky, A. (n.d.) ‘Pragmatism in Education.’ PowerPoint presentation – edu-513. Retrieved 12th January from https://edu.513.wikispaces.com/file/view/Pragmatism+in+Education.ppt


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Learning objectives for this chapter:

By the end of this chapter, you should able to:

What is a national curriculum?

As per a 2009 UK parliamentary committee report, a national curriculum “”sets out the body of knowledge, skills and understanding that a society wishes to pass on to its young ones and young people”” (House of Commons, 2009). National curricula offer a broad set of subjects and cover all of the years of compulsory education in the united states concerned. The national curriculum will also indicate the minimum level of attainment to be targeted and the standards young ones are expected to reach in the subjects studied. National curricula will also state the staging points at which young ones are tested, and when formal examinations will occur for qualification purposes.

The National Curriculum in England

The school curriculum has elements which are considered area of the National Curriculum, as well as other elements which lay outside of that mandated provision, but which are nevertheless compulsory. Schools in England, for example, are expected to provide religious education throughout compulsory schooling years, and sex and relationships education from year 7 (age 11, or the beginning of secondary school) onwards. Though schools must provide religious education, parents/carers can elect to have their child opt out of such lessons on faith grounds; young ones may also be excused from some aspects of sex and relationship education in the same grounds (UK Government, 2015).   

In England, the National Curriculum is arranged in terms of clusters of academic years, into elements which are called key stages:

Ages 3-5: Preschool and reception: early years curriculum

Ages 5-7: Years 1 and 2 primary school: Key Stage 1 (with national evaluation and teacher assessments in English, maths and science in Year 2)  

Ages 7-10: Years 3-6 primary school: Key Stage 2 (with national evaluation and teacher assessments in English, maths and science in Year 6)

Ages 11-14: Years 7-9 secondary school: Key Stage 3

Ages 15-16: Years 10-11 secondary school: Key Stage 4 (some young ones will require some GCSEs in Year 10, though all will require the bulk/all GCSEs or other national qualifications in Year 11).

16, or Year 11, is the national school-leaving age in the UK. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of young people continue into some form of further education, following either a vocational route leading to level 3 vocational qualifications, or an academic route taking A levels as a potential precursor higher education (UK Government, 2016).

With respect to curricular arrangements in the UK, there are attempts to provide for two broad sets of aims which were developed from the 1996 Education Act, which required that all schools that were operating in the state sector were to provide an education which was both balanced and broad, and also satisfy two other sets of aims. In the first instance, the curriculum would need to promote development of young ones and young people with respect to their spiritual, cultural, moral, mental, and physical development, and to that of wider society, and in the second instance, in order to make adequate preparation due to their emergence into adult life (Department for Education, 2007).

How are national curricula developed?

National curricula tend to evolve with time. An element of prescription in the subjects to be covered in compulsory education dates to the 1870 Elementary Education Act, which established the principle of mandatory elementary education for all young ones; prior to 1870, education was only available to those who could afford it (Gillard, 2011). Though a fully-available basic education took almost two decades to be universally-available, this was nevertheless the starting point for the National Curriculum, in that state oversight of education for all was initiated.

By the mid-1980s, a consensus in government was growing for the establishment of a national curriculum. This was driven by a group of concerns: low standards being evident in secondary education wide ranges in quality between different schools, perceptions of weaknesses in curriculum design and in the implementation of such planning documents, and overly-subjective assessment of pupil ability (Faulkner, 2009). The 1988 Education Reform Act was the vehicle by which the first iteration of the National Curriculum was established. The Act had three main aims, and the National Curriculum was the principal means by which these aims is addressed. The aims were:

The 1988 Act not only introduced the National Curriculum, but at the same time required that responsibility for ensuring that the National Curriculum was delivered faithfully was placed with local authorities, with school governors, and with school heads (in the place of with central government).

One hand, the inauguration of centralised curricular arrangement might be seen to be a unifying force, driven by the perception that standards needed in addition raising, equalizing, and standardising. On the other hand, contemporary drivers towards schools becoming independent from local authority control, first in administrative contexts, and then in their curricular arrangements, have told a perhaps different story. To some extent, it might be argued, the National Curriculum acts as a restrictive force on those schools electing to remain under local authority control, with those institutions operating in more of a free market context being allowed to have greater flexibility over their curricular arrangements.

How closely do individual institutions need to stay glued to the national curriculum?

The National Curriculum does not apply to all schools equally. Education has become a devolved matter for national assemblies and similar forms of regional government in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland since the inception of national curriculum arrangements in the late 1980s in the UK.