Hidden Curriculum: Integration Beyond the Content

By Tracey Falconer, BSc(Hons), MSc, MSc(MedSci) 
Associate, TeachBeyond, UK

When we minister through education it is a wonderful opportunity for us as teachers to inspire, encourage, and guide our charges. We reach out to our students with an aim to expand their minds, grow and challenge their abilities, and ultimately broaden their horizons as they dream big dreams of what they hope to someday achieve. A transformational education, unlike a purely academic one, is concerned with more than just content. Teachers strive to develop more than the mind; they encourage children to become disciples of Christ. In an environment with pastoral care that is both nurturing and supportive, children blossom over time and grow to develop the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control[1].

As we look at the Scriptures, we see children portrayed as precious gifts from God and we are encouraged to lead them in the right path[2]. In fact, we are strongly cautioned against leading them astray[3]. As teachers we should be especially mindful of this as we explore potentially controversial topics with our students. For those of us who teach science, this is especially true. We have a unique opportunity to impart scientific theory as we seek to bring children closer to God. Rather than being caught up in the weeds of the ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) debate that pits science against religion, or getting carried away by questioning God’s wisdom,[4] we instead have an opportunity to help students find ways to give God the glory in His beautiful creation. Let us celebrate God’s guiding hand in the complex construction of a blade of grass, His loving care in the delicate design of a butterfly’s wing, and His mighty hand in crafting thundering hurricanes as they barrel across the tropical seas. Every creation, every single thing—living and non-living—has its place and function on planet earth and in the wider universe; each has been placed here with God’s loving care.

We also have the opportunity to explore the truth that God placed us as guardians over His entire creation[5]. We can honour God by inspiring our little ones to be fierce caretakers of our planet. We can teach them how to confront the ethical issues raised by issues such as climate change and factors that lead to the extinction of entire species. Glory, honour, praise and thanksgiving are some of the principles that may be used to guide scientific instruction as we seek to inspire transformational change in our students. We raise our voices to God in the hymn:

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all[6]

Jesus taught by example; we too should be an example to our students. We teach them through our actions how to handle conflicts and act with integrity. This is true both as we interact with other people and as we interact with ideas. When we as adults lead the way, we set our little ones on a path from which they will hopefully never depart[7]. It is through the development of a relationship with our students and how we go about setting an example for them that we can encourage them to love God, other people, and the world we live in. This is the hidden curriculum. It is ever-present and unintentionally taught. These Bible-based learning outcomes that are not measured by our traditional formative and summative assessments should not be overlooked. Each year as we progress through the lessons dictated by the curriculum, let us seek ordinary, everyday opportunities to teach Jesus’ guiding principles.

How can we as teachers encourage spiritual growth in our students? What can we do to become better role models for our children to follow? We can be intentional about how we interact with our subject, our students, and the world. Each day, let us find at least one way to inspire our children to become disciples of Christ.

[1] Gal. 5.22-23
[2] Prov. 22.6
[3] Matt. 18.6
[4] Job 38.1-5
[5] Gen. 1.28, Ps. 8.6
[6] Cecil F. Alexander, 1848.
[7] Prov. 22.6

Photo Credits: Schoolgirls in Bamozai. U.S. Government public domain. Sunset over Indian Ocean. B.Hunsberger, 2010. Bee in Flower. B. Hunsberger 2017.

Tracey is an associate member with TeachBeyond.  She volunteers as a science consultant and offers assistance with teaching science and developing curricula. If you’d like to consult with Tracey, you can find her on the TeachBeyond Consultant’s Board.