Walking with ADDIE: What Is and Isn’t Taught
Imagine you asked your friend to recommend a brand to look for when buying a new TV. Imagine that your friend came up with a list of two to three options, just for this example; let’s say she/he said, “I would recommend LG, Samsung and Sony.”
What do you learn from this recommendation? Well the easy answer would be that your friend likes LG, Samsung and Sony. That’s it, right? Your friend didn’t say anything else so that is all you can take from your quick conversation. The problem is, that’s not all that you can get from the recommendations. Your friend, while not mentioning brands like Panasonic, Sharp and Vizio, made a non-recommendation of those brands. You just learned the same amount about those brands as you did LG, Samsung and Sony.
This issue is also present when developing a curriculum. You have to be aware of what is being said and what is not being said. What isn’t being taught is just as important as what is being taught. In fact it may even be more important. What isn’t being taught can be viewed as unimportant or irrelevant.
When planning a curriculum you have to be conscious about what is and what isn’t talked about. That doesn’t mean that every topic has to be covered. The non-mentioned topics become a part of the “null curriculum.” What isn’t taught is also teaching and that must be taken into account. What that means is by mentioning the topics that are not covered in detail; it may be enough to raise the felt importance of those topics.
In the example from the beginning if the statement was changed to, “The best three are LG, Samsung and Sony while Sharp and Vizio are right below them. I don’t know anything about Panasonic or any of the other brands.” Now you know more about the other brands and that just because your friend didn’t mention Panasonic, it doesn’t mean they are a bad brand.
If you want to learn more about null curriculum check out the following resources:
Shaw, Perry. Transforming Theological Education: A practical handbook for integrative learning. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Langham, 2014. Chapter 5 covers the null curriculum.