The hidden curriculum at Plymouth

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations

On the train last week for Debby Cotton's inaugural lecture, rounding off Plymouth's 2013 PedRIO research day.   I like Inaugurals; such grand occasions when newly-minted professors have the challenge of explaining what gets them up in the morning to, potentially, the broadest of audiences.  It's quite hard to do it well.

I've been to a few over the years.  I recall the bloke, dressed in most superior splendour, who decided it would be good to use the lecture to criticise his university in front of its panjandrums.  Frost descended, and, like Steve Biko, no degree of besuitedness could help him.  He never recovered.  And then there was the colleague who began ...

"The last time I gave this talk was in New York, where I was ...".

Jaws dropped; nothing in my life could give me the confidence (a kind word) to do that, but it was just right for someone who'd been professing all over the place for years.  Sadly, the rest of the talk was less memorable.

So, I looked forward to my day out in Plymouth, and it was worth the trip.  Debby spoke well about the hidden curriculum talking in detail about a number of examples from her research.

Hidden from whom, always seems a pertinent question.  I first read about the phenomenon in Jackson & Marsden's Education and the Working Class (1962), a copy of which I still have, although I'd probably learnt a lot through it (the hidden curriculum that is), at my "good" grammar school.  It seems to me that, when you get down to it, the hidden curriculum is (always) about value gaps.  Most times, it is an exposure of underlying, core values, and the only way it can be minimised is when an institution aligns its actions with those values.  Where these are always fully aligned (impossible, mostly, of course), then there is no hidden curriculum – and maybe nothing else to learn.

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations


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