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Opinion | School security and "the hidden curriculum"

By Richard D. Erlich
On January 14, 2013

Educational reformers back in the 1960's talked about "the hidden curriculum," the idea that the most important lessons schools teach are the ones repeated in each class and in the school generally, in the methods of instruction and the way school life is managed, in what values are inculcated silently, throughout the school day.

So you have to consider what's being taught by the method of lecturing and grading by Scantron exams, by dividing knowledge up by disciplines, by punishing kids for arguing their points of view.

For the next few weeks, we should consider what's being taught by school security.

It's a fact that school shootings are rare and that "lockdown" is an expression from prisons. It's a fact that "freedom isn't free" and that a major question is who pays what.

What values does it teach kids if we restrict their freedom greatly for marginal increases in safety? What does it teach if we make school campuses more like prisons or armed camps so that some adults are free to buy whatever semi-automatic rifles and rifle magazines they want?

What are we teaching kids about dealing with the world when it's taboo-"insensitive"-to talk about risks and statistics and suggest that liberty even for children might be worth asking them and their parents to risk catastrophes that are horrific when they happen, but really, really unlikely to happen?

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