Independent schools are often sighted for going far beyond the standard curriculum. New Jersey independent schools in particular are noted for their breadth of offerings stretching across technology and the arts. The goal here has always been to provide a well-rounded education. The atmosphere is such that it is far reaching permitting the child to be engaged and to utilize a multitude of thinking processes. The hope being that the mind is stimulated to venture, imagine, analyze, predict and formulate thoughts. The theory goes that the more knowledge provided the brain the more curious the intellect causing an expansion of thought.
Enter the hidden curriculum: that aspect of the school experience which may not be listed in the school’s syllabus, but plays an important role in the child’s development. These involve the part of the school that engages students as unique individuals and prepare them for an uncertain future. Today we are not sure what the jobs of tomorrow will be so preparation has to broad and far reaching. It might be to embrace the entrepreneurial opportunities and have the ability to work from anywhere with anyone in the world. Schools must help students develop an independent mind-set while having the capacity to solve problems, while cooperating with others. This will require individuals who communicate well with others and formulate collaborative ideas. Today’s schools have the challenge of facilitating student empowerment in a number of ways, from personalization to supporting student voice, to enabling students to choose how they work and demonstrate mastery. Private schools like Oak Hill Academy have the unique advantage to move past a common curriculum in order to focus on a student’s individual development.
Research indicates that empowering students with life skills leads to many positive outcomes including utilizing a growth mindset, dealing and benefiting from failure, having perseverance, and displaying self-awareness. Many experts believe these are necessary to thrive in the current and future society.
Having the ability to think and solve problems along with the talent to design pathways to solutions are vital skills in today’s digital age. The successful individual will be able to combine logic and deep understanding. Since we are living in a highly technical world, it will be even more necessary for us to be familiar with the vocabulary and processes to effectively communicate in our digital world.Predicting the future is rarely possible, but anticipating and being prepared must be at the forefront of how we educate our children. Making good decisions, attaining leadership skills, being able to cope effectively with adversity are also a part of the hidden curriculum that will lead to a generation of happy and capable young people. Combining these with our core skills, we must also emphasize that our children must grow up in a world that is respectful of others, cares for our fellow man, and empathizes with their needs.