Null Curriculum–How What Teachers Aren’t Saying is as Important as What They Are

Curriculum is “what students have the opportunity to learn.” In traditional schooling this is derived from textbooks and lesson plans and standards to which teachers maintain strict adherence. Children internalize that what they learn in school is true and complete fact, which can have dangerous consequences for challenging the status quo. Elliot Eisner identified this shortcoming in curriculum as the “null curriculum…what students do not have the opportunity to learn.” The primary danger of the null curriculum is that students fail to look for what they do not know exists, and thus never question the status quo. This is of particular importance, as acts of violence and intolerance become the staple of mainstream media. These events leave students “confused, frustrated, hurt and uncertain of their country.” Excluding such events from the explicit curriculum inherently teaches children that they are not as important as the events in the textbooks. The integration of social justice teaching into the classroom routine encourages students to engage with, discuss, question and understand the events they see in their daily lives with the same rigor they apply to academics. However, exposing the null curriculum requires support from school administrators and communities. Intentional and institutional integration of social justice based teaching must be the classroom norm. It is time to bring the null curriculum to the forefront of the classroom experience. Read the full Educational Leadership article Here