He did research on implementation of the curriculum and found that schools spend about sixty seven percent of their time focusing on hidden aspects of the curriculum yet they were not aware of this. Eisner (1979) asserts that those subjects that receive more attention are determined by the hidden curriculum. The latter is also responsible for the teaching styles adopted in classrooms and methods of delivering subject content.
In relation to this argument, many philosophers and educationists came up with theories explaining the nature of the hidden curriculum. The proponents, critics and content of these perspectives will be examined in detail in the subsequent portions of the essay. These will incorporate five main perspectives.
Psychology is one of the most important disciplines in education because rot was responsible for the creation of the experiential theory of the curriculum. It should be noted that before experiential approaches most theories of education revolved around reductionist views. However, with the passage of time, more and more psychologists realized that there was more to learning that reduction. This formed the background fro the experiential theory.
The main proponents of the theory were Freire and Kolb. The proponents believed that learning occurred in a cycle. It first starts with experience, this is then followed by reflection where there is perception and processing, thereafter action takes place. For example, teachers may be faced with the task of awarding grades for a particular exam. The fact that they are undergoing that challenge denotes the fact that they are experiencing it; i.e. the first phase of experiential learning. Thereafter, teachers have to think about other circumstances where they have had to do the same. This will constitute the reflective part of the learning process. Thereafter, they are expected to consider all the angles to the issue. They may decide to consult with other teachers on the issue and this will cause further reflection.
This reflective aspect is made of two major concepts. These are abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. In the latter part, one has to apply logic in the formation of ideas; feelings are not considered here. While in the active experimentation stage, learning occurs through experimentation with changing scenarios. Kolb therefore came up with four stages that help to identify learning styles depending on the earlier elements of the learning process. The stages are; activists, pragmatists, theorizers and reflectors. Those who focus on one stage more than another will fall into that respective learning style.
Knox (1986) asserts that these stages can be applied in the classroom when students are trying to learn something. This is because they can relate to subject content on a cognitive level and can therefore internalize the learning process. Besides that, experiential theory can also be applied by teachers. Teachers can present information in bits or in phase so that they can allow learners to 'experience' it. Brookfield (1990) asserts that teachers should realize that curriculum ideas are tested through the experiences acquired from their lives.