Activity 3

Ivan Illich

In Deschooling Society, the radical American educator, Ivan Illich, went further than Jackson and Paechter in arguing that there was a 'hidden curriculum' in Western education that indoctrinated pupils, smothered creativity, induced conformity and encouraged an acceptance of the 'status quo'.

READ: Read the following short quotation from his book:

"Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question". Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (1973: 9)

REFLECT: How similar are Illich's views on the hidden curriculum in this quotation to Pete Seeger's in the song at the beginning of this Unit? How far do you agree with Illich that schools in the past have induced conformity through indoctrination?

WRITE: Make a list of some of the ways in which you think a hidden curriculum might operate in a school. Write about methods which teachers and schools might adopt in order to exercise a constructive control over both positive and negative features of the intended and unintended hidden curriculum. (You might think, for example, about the usefulness of whole school policies on such issues as bullying, sexism and racism).

(Allow 30 minutes)