Kohlberg and Hidden Curriculum in Moral Education: An Opportunity for Students' Acquisition of Moral Values in the New Turkish Primary Education Curriculum

Article excerpt

Abstract

Even though hidden curriculum is influential on students' moral education, it is not sufficiently investigated. Among the researchers that studied the subject, Lawrence Kohlberg has attempted to systematically explain hidden curriculum's role and effects on moral education. In this article, the role and effects of hidden curriculum in moral education are explained in accordance with Kohlberg's suggestions. In particular, the inadequacy of conveying moral education in the form of a course and in an authoritarian way has been emphasized. The new primary curriculum in Turkey brings a new understanding about students' gaining moral values. The degree of gaining these moral values by students in classrooms is discussed according to Kohlberg's ideas about hidden curriculum.

Key Words

Primary Curricula, Hidden Curriculum, Kohlberg, Moral Education, Moral Values.

Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) is one of the most important educators and psychologists of our age and is renowned for his studies on moral development and education. His work and suggestions in moral development and education preserve their importance to this date. In this study, Kohlberg's perspective on hidden curriculum, which has a central place in his thought on and application of moral education are analyzed.

Hidden Curriculum in Moral Education

One of the functions of education is to teach both current values that exist and new values that are not present in the society and convey them to upcoming generation. This function is expected to be fulfilled by administrators and teachers in line with educational curricula. Students are presented with various values that they are demanded to learn in schools through both the official curriculum and hidden curriculum. However, hidden curriculum is more effective than the official curriculum in the process whereby values are learned. In spite of this, the number of researchers that focus on the issue of hidden curriculum remains very limited. The most important of these researchers is Kohlberg.

The Concept of Hidden Curriculum

The current literature shows that the application of educational programs identifies two sorts of curricula in schools. The first type is prepared by official authorities, contains a detailed description of objectives and activities, and is referred to as the "formal" or "official" curriculum. The second sort of curriculum, the essentials of which are not clearly and definitively laid out, contains elements that are not included in the objectives and activities presented in the official curriculum, and are referred as "hidden curriculum." The hidden curriculum does not exist in the form of a written document. It consists of the order and regulations of the school, its physical and psychological environment, and the non-official or implied messages that the administrators or teachers convey to students (Apple, 1989; 1993; Dreeben, 1968; Giroux, 1983a; Giroux & Penna, 1983, Jackson, 1968; Snyder, 1971).

Two main approaches exist on the issue of hidden curriculum: functionalists and neo-Marxists. According to the functionalists who focus on ways that schools take part in carrying social order, schools should provide students knowledge, skills, values, and opinions that the society is in need of in order to help them adjust to the current system in the society. This process is managed with the help of hidden curriculum (Cookson & Sadovnik, 2002; Giroux & Penna, 1981). On the other hand, the neo-Marxist approach asserts that the dominant classes and forces in the society influence education through hidden curriculum. According to this approach, schools help perpetuate an unjust social order through conveying beliefs, values, and norms that are effective in political, social, and economic life. These values, beliefs, and norms are put across to students through covert messages (Apple, 1979, 1980, 1980/1981; Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Giroux, 1977, 1983a, 1983b; Gordon, 1991). …