“Liberation is the purpose of Education”. “Education brings conformity or freedom”. The learner chooses.

I was envious about Rex, a young lecturer in our school. Everyone likes Rex, especially the students. I overheard a particular mentoring session in the clinic Rex had with Jean. “I don’t forget students or the work I assign to them. Please remember that. Jean! I had wanted you to come up to me on the explanation on the patient’s occlusion.” Jean was silent the whole time. Rex continued, “Do you need more time, or you don’t want to do this task. I am not asking this for myself, understand.” Jean nodded in affirmation. I walked to Jean after some time. I told her that I was watching the interaction with Rex. Jean confided, “Yeah, I was wrong. Dr Rex asked me to refer an aspect of occlusion. I totally forgot. I am surprised that he remembered, and he cares so much for the students. I feel ashamed.”

I didn’t understand why Jean interpreted this interaction this way. I also had likewise interpreted similar interactions I have had as a student. Now I feel that this is not the right way to correct a student. Also, the ‘correction’ itself is flawed. In the contract I have with a learner in my capacity as a teacher, I am no bigger or smaller than the student. We are equals. I can identify areas of improvement, provide feedback, stop a student in patient’s safety interests. I don’t think I hold the right to humiliate, condescend, be indifferent, ignore, correct etc.

The curriculum is transparent and explicit. It outlines what, when and how a student learns. The hidden curriculum is created by the behaviors, perspectives, and attitudes of the various stakeholders who participate directly or indirectly in the delivery of the curriculum. The learners are the most influenced and affected by the hidden curriculum. I find that students are the greatest proponents and opponents of the hidden curriculum. Many conform to the practice and standards while few have the awareness and courage to challenge.

Shaun had asked me once, “I understand that Dr Sweta had a very rigorous training in her school. But why bring the same stress and rigour here. Can’t we achieve similar levels with less stress and more engagement?” Why don’t you ask Dr Sweta, I blurted before realising that I was not being kind or helpful.

How do you perceive the hidden curriculum in your school? Supportive, oppressive, or indifferent? Your response will give me a clue.

I write blogs on Academic Coaching, topics that empower students in their learning journey. For the complete blog posts on academic coaching, click here.

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