I have just started reading Calm, Alert, and Learning, Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation by Stuart Shankar (2013). By part way through the first chapter, on the biological domain, I started wondering about how we teach self-regulation. Like many of the most important things taught and learned in schools, self-regulation is not really part of the curriculum. Self-regulation is seldom explicitly taught, except to remediate deficiencies or to respond to observed infractions such as fist fights or habitually incomplete work.
Would explicit instruction in self-regulation help children who struggle to self-regulate? How would such instruction affect students in the middle?
This speculation brings me to a point I have often pondered. Should the implicit curriculum be made explicit? If self-regulation and related skills such as emotional intelligence are more important than IQ in future success, then why are they not part of the curriculum? Arguments could be made that they are, but I can only do so by creatively interpreting a few learning outcomes scattered seemingly randomly in various course outlines. I have heard teachers claim that these types of skills are infused throughout the curriculum, and there is some truth to this claim. However, some parents, students, and even educators argue that the education system should focus on the explicit curriculum. For example, the call to assess learning instead of work completion is justified by the fact that the learning outcomes do not mention completing work. Where is completing work mentioned? Nowhere, really. It’s part of the implied curriculum, just like self-regulation. This does not, to my mind, depreciate the value of work completion or self-regulation. On the contrary, they are so essential that they were considered a given. No one thought to write them down, because they were considered too obvious to bother with.
I would argue that the time has come to make the implicit explicit. We need to talk about the assumptions that underpin the education system, decide which ones are worth keeping, and then make them part of the explicit curriculum.