12 Examples and Characteristics of Hidden Curriculum

The term “hidden curriculum” describes the unplanned and unwritten morals, beliefs, and behaviors that kids pick up in addition to the formal lessons provided at educational institutions.

The hidden curriculum is just as important in forming students’ attitudes, beliefs, and socialization as the official curriculum, which places more emphasis on subject-specific information and skills.

This essay will examine 15 of the behaviors that can be learned through the hidden curriculum as well as the school structures that make it possible.

Hidden Curriculum Definition

The lessons, attitudes, and values that students unconsciously pick up from daily encounters, rituals, and practices in educational contexts are referred to as the “hidden curriculum.”

Although it isn’t addressed directly in the official curriculum, it has a big impact on how pupils act and think.

Related: 10 Importance of Hidden Curriculum in Education

Implicit Socialization

Implicit socialization is one of the hidden curriculum’s fundamental characteristics. So it is important to know how implicit socialization works to fully understand the hidden curriculum.

Teachers, peers, and the general school environment naturally model social norms, expectations, and behaviors and students watch and absorb.

That’s implicit socialization.

Students pick up social cues, respect for authority, and how to move through social hierarchies.

How the Hidden Curriculum Manifests in Schools

Student-Teacher Interactions

The hidden curriculum is influenced by how teachers and students interact. Students notice and pick up on the communication, criticism, and support behaviors of those in positions of authority.

These interactions affect how students see themselves as learners, as well as how motivated and involved they are in class.

School Climate and Culture

Every school setting has its own distinct culture and environment, which is incorporated into the hidden curriculum.

Students’ perceptions of what is significant, appropriate, and appreciated within that setting are shaped by the values, traditions, and rituals supported by the school community.

Power Dynamics

Every educational setting has power dynamics, which are a part of the hidden curriculum. Students gain knowledge of the hierarchy of authority, how power is allocated, and the repercussions of defying or following it.

Their behavior and attitudes toward authoritative figures may change as a result of this awareness.

Influences of peers

The hidden curriculum is significantly shaped by peers. Students pick up skills through the social interactions, attitudes, and behaviors of their peers. The choices, values, and sense of belonging that children feel within the school community can all be influenced by their peers.

Related: Dangers of Social Pressure and How To Overcome It

Examples of Behaviours Learnt Through the Hidden Curriculum

Stereotypes and Gender Roles

Frequently, the hidden curriculum reinforces gender roles and prejudices. 

Through multiple channels, such as teachers’ expectations, classroom activities, and unequal treatment based on gender, students learn about society’s standards around masculinity and femininity.

Work Ethics and Self-Control

The hidden curriculum places a strong emphasis on discipline and work ethics. Daily schedules, due dates, and expectations teach students that tenacity, time management, and self-control are crucial for success in both academic and professional environments.

Rivalry and Collaboration

The hidden curriculum emphasizes the value of competition and cooperation whereas the official curriculum may place more emphasis on personal achievement.

Students gain the ability to strike a balance between their personal success and teamwork, collaboration, and realizing the advantages of collective efforts.

Civic Engagement and Responsibilities

Through the hidden curriculum, educational institutions frequently promote citizenship and civic obligations. Students gain knowledge of social justice, equity, environmental sustainability, and community engagement. Their growth as responsible citizens is aided by these lessons.

Related: 10 Importance of Civic Education in Nigeria

Cultural Values and Assumptions

There are cultural presumptions and ideals ingrained in the hidden curriculum. The dominant cultural viewpoints, norms, and practices that are taught to students have an impact on how they perceive diversity, inclusion, and social dynamics.

Resilience and Emotional Intelligence

Students have the opportunity to build emotional intelligence and resilience through the hidden curriculum.

Through interactions with peers, teachers, and the general school environment, they learn to deal with difficulties, resolve disputes, and control their emotions.

Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Capabilities

Through the hidden curriculum, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities are promoted. Students participate in conversations, debates, and practical exercises that challenge them to consider, assess, and resolve challenging issues.

Media Knowledge

Media literacy is covered in the hidden curriculum in this age of media and information abundance. Students gain the ability to analyze media messages critically, recognize trustworthy sources from false ones, and adopt a critical mindset when absorbing information.


The hidden curriculum has a significant impact on how pupils are educated and develop as individuals. It includes all of the subliminal lessons, values, and conduct that pupils pick up via daily encounters, routines, and practices in educational environments. Understanding how the hidden curriculum affects pupils’ attitudes, beliefs, and socialization requires an understanding of its examples and traits.

Related: 12 Roles of Teachers in the Hidden Curriculum in Education


1. Why is the hidden curriculum important?

The hidden curriculum is important because it shapes students’ attitudes, values, and socialization beyond the formal curriculum.

2. How can educators address the hidden curriculum?

Educators can address the hidden curriculum by promoting awareness, critical reflection, and intentional teaching of values and skills aligned with their educational goals.

3. Can the hidden curriculum have negative effects?

Yes, the hidden curriculum can perpetuate inequality, reinforce stereotypes, and limit students’ opportunities if not carefully examined and addressed.

4. Are all elements of the hidden curriculum unintentional?

While the hidden curriculum is mostly unintended, some elements can be intentionally incorporated to promote specific values or behaviors.

5. How can parents support their children in navigating the hidden curriculum?

Parents can engage in open conversations, encourage critical thinking, and reinforce positive values at home to support their children’s understanding and navigation of the hidden curriculum.

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