Great article! In the 1990s, Elliot Eisner suggested that the “explicit curriculum” — the knowledge and skills found in a school’s curriculum guide or a list of standards — is a small part of what schools actually teach. According to Eisner,
“…The implicit curriculum of the school is what it teaches because of the kind of place it is. And the school is that kind of place [because of] various approaches to teaching…the kind of reward system that it uses…the organizational structure it employs to sustain its existence…the physical characteristics of the school plant…the furniture it uses and the surroundings it creates. These characteristics constitute some of the dominant components of the school’s implicit curriculum. …These features are…intuitively recognized by parents, students, and teachers. …because they are salient and pervasive features of schooling, what they teach may be among the most important lessons a child learns.”(1) [author’s emphasis]
This article summarizes some of Eisner’s other comments. What I find the most distressing is that, more than 20 years later, little or nothing has changed. In fact, given the obsession with one-size-fits-all standards and testing, the “kind of place” many schools are today is even more oppressive.
Reference: Eisner, E. (1994). The Educational Imagination: On the Design and Evaluation of School Programs, 3rd ed. New York: Macmillan College Publishing.