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Values Education and the Hidden Curriculum

by Mark Halstead, Jiamel Xiao
International Research Handbook on Values Education and Student Well-Being ()


Ethnographic study of elementary students in one school in England Detailed interviews with teh teacher and the students "This chapter focuses on two aspects of the findings – the values that children have (or develop) in the classroom, and the way the values are learned." (308): findings 1) "the way children perceive things in the classroom is often very different from adult understandings" (308) - e.g., children are very concerned with their ability to control where they are placed in the classroom, and whether they can be near their friends 2) For children, the "normal school day" has four main dimensions: "First, grouping and sequencing always deal with children collectively rather than as individuals. Second, the teacher puts children into their designated places and then gives them comprehensive instructions concerning organizational or disciplinary matters. Third, by supervising the children, assessing their behaviour and rewarding or punishing them according to their conformity to the various explicit or implicit regulations, the teacher puts them constantly under surveillance. They may respond with subversive practices like distraction, disruption and time-wasting (Halstead & Xiao, 2009). Fourth, the children are explicitly required to seek permission from the teacher for everything they do, and this creates a dependency culture and encourages attentionseeking. The children are constantly aware of the teacher’s discipline and sanctions, and these dominate their conscious judgement of the situation in the classroom. At times, the researcher reported herself feeling overwhelmed by the teacher’s organization, instruction and classroom management while she was recording what was happening in the classroom" (311-312) 3) Childrens values impact their experiences in schools. - esp. friendship and fun "children are often conscious of the restraints under which they live at school and of the unarticulated regulating intentions of the teacher and make deliberate choices about how to behave or respond in the light of this awareness" (316) "(However, the question whether or not to obey the teachers still appears to generate inner struggles in the children. As we noted earlier, even the so-called goodie girls hint that absolute obedience to rules can be unrealistic and arbitrary in reality. While ‘resistance’ and ‘rebellion’ sound negative from an educational perspective, they actually demonstrate children’s individuality and potential for rational autonomy. This is because they are engaging with the teacher’s demands rather than being simply passive; and engagement is a positive learning outcome, even if the particular response involves resistance or subversion. In a sense, all children are resistant and subversive to some extent and their behaviour becomes a mirror image of the teacher’s surveillance and dominance, so that a kind of balance is maintained in the classroom between teacher and pupils (cf. Halstead & Xiao, 2009)." (316)

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