The Hidden Curriculum

In the world of education, there is a term known as “the hidden curriculum.” Quite simply, what it stands for is the “real motivation” behind teaching a certain lesson, course, or subject. A “hidden curriculum” is not always easily identifiable. Examples, however, can be far more heartwarming (or poisonous) than a definition. Consider these:

A high school teacher who reads “To Kill a Mockingbird” with his or her class. However, it is not for the literary value of the work, but rather the cross-generational poignancy of seeing all men as equal.

An elementary school teacher who teaches grammar on top of new forms of communication. He or she might not intend to be thorough, but rather intend to provide the students with a solid foundation rather than a modern excuse.

Or even a professor who laces his or her conversation with conservative or liberal political views from the podium during a class assignment. True, the professor’s motivation might be “hatred” of an opposing ideal. Then again, the professor’s motivation could be “sincere and genuine concern” for the outcome of society.

In short: The perspective of an audience (and a teacher’s intentions) make all the difference in the world. I believe, ethically, such a perspective should never be manipulated. Rather, respected and presented with a choice. The very reason I can still go to sleep at night without worrying about whether someone thought the same way I did or not is because, as a Christian, I know God is under complete control. He’s got the outcome in His hands; and His outcome is always trustworthy, even if it isn’t easy sometimes.

In the current series about being an “Ambassador of Reconciliation,” Capital Christian Center makes it quite clear that the mission – “the point of everything,” a.k.a. the “hidden curriculum” – is to “change our relationships with others.” “Our goal is not just diversity,” preached Pastor Dave last week. “There is no way you can have a relationship with God and be in hatred towards other people.”

Pastor Courtney followed on the heels of Pastor Dave with some pretty effective things to say, as well. For example, Pastor Courtney stated that, “In society, it’s diverse, but noisy because people are not in harmony…God wants us to look at people and not see the diversity, but the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for each and every person.”

Wait a minute…you mean the “hidden curriculum” of “the church,” or at the very least “this church,” is that I have to love my neighbor? If this fact shocks you, I’ve got news for you: That’s not the hidden curriculum of the church. That’s the hidden curriculum of the Gospel. You remember…those funny little words in red stated by Christ?

Jesus often spoke in parables or metaphors, but He was never shy about revealing why He was on Earth in the first place. A living, walking, breathing example of the Ten Commandments, Jesus was the “ultimate teacher.” All we need to do is follow His example (to the best of our abilities in this fallen world where tragedy will inevitably occur), and a little bit of what Heaven is like might just shine down on Earth.


Questions for Reflection:


  1. Think back to either your favorite or least favorite teacher/mentor. What, do you think, was his or her motivation for instructing a particular subject? I encourage you to think critically about this, but to also approach such analyzation with a certain degree of understanding that we are all humans, and, therefore, are all equally as flawed or talented.
  2. Have you ever personally experienced the ugliness that is racism or discrimination? What do you think was the “hidden curriculum” of the person who hurt you? (For deeper thought, consider if the incident was a result of accidental insensitivity or purposeful intention.)
  3. What is one way you can “right” one wrong in a relationship with a family member? Is there a grudge you’ve held on to for way too long? Did you even know that Christ wants to carry that burden for you?
  4. As Pastor Dave said (paraphrased), “The Lord’s heart is reconciliation.” Using the examples discussed from answering question three, what is one way you could (kindly and gently) suggest to someone else as to how to help heal their situation?
  5. Have you ever thought as the gift of Grace (Christ on the Cross) as the ultimate attempt by God to provide a way to reconcile, or “right,” our relationship with Him? What sorrows or offenses have you been holding back and burying rather than conquering and healing?


House of Worship: Capital Christian Center – Lacey, WA

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