Reflection is widely known as an educational best practice. My fierce plea to those like myself battling at the helm of Christian education is to reflect earnestly on the practices in place surrounding curriculum and instruction. Simply put, curriculum is what we teach and instruction is how we teach it. Therefore, we mustn’t overcomplicate the need for reflection in this arena. We have to answer two simple questions: Are students genuinely learning? If the answer is no, we must follow up with the question: Why aren’t they learning? One of the greatest hindrances to student learning is hiding the curriculum in plain sight. The good news is that we can unveil the hidden curriculum to promote academic student success. The even better news is that when we do this, we engage in one of the best Christian educational practices: stewardship of God’s most valuable creation—His children. 

The hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten rules, values, and expectations that shape students’ educational experiences, often leaving them needing help to succeed. One of the significant disadvantages of a hidden curriculum is the misalignment of expectations between educators and students. This can lead to confusion, frustration, and a lack of confidence in their abilities. Students must know the implicit rules and expectations to navigate their academic journey. Christian schools should ensure that their expectations, grading criteria, and academic guidelines are communicated to students to minimize this misalignment.  

Reflection Question: Are students explicitly aware of learning objectives? 

Spiritual formation is also a fundamental aspect of Christian education. However, if the spiritual dimension is concealed within the hidden curriculum, students may need help understanding how to integrate their faith into their academic pursuits. The lack of explicit spiritual guidance can leave students feeling confused and less confident about aligning their beliefs and values with their educational experiences. The first step is to promote open dialogue and incorporate faith-based discussions and activities into the curriculum. It isn’t until students are allowed to reconcile for themselves the intersection of faith and their future that a proper education is produced.  

Reflection Question: How does my school guide students in spiritual formation? 

So, what now? I began with the perspective of reflection as a necessary best practice of Christian education. While I hold this belief to be accurate, I am confident that even more critical than reflection is becoming. By reflecting on our curriculum and educational practices, we, as educators, enter into the process of becoming, and becoming what? Becoming more aware and mindful of how the practices that we participate in drive forward our educational intentions. We unveil the hidden curriculum by exposing who we are and what our institution stands for. To reveal the hidden curriculum is to first reflect, but second, to enter daily into the complex, tiresome, worthy work of becoming.

Reflection Question: What steps do you and your school need to take to unveil the hidden curriculum in your schools? 



About the Author 

Kellie Tuten is the Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator for Virginia Academy, a private Christian school in Ashburn, Virginia. She has 11 years of classroom experience teaching a wide range of English classes in grade levels 6-12, where she boasts 25k followers on her teacher TikTok! After graduating from the University of Virginia with her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, her dream is to coach others in adapting and aligning a Christian curriculum framework within the relevant pedagogy in the current educational landscape. 


Jim Hopson

A new book that I come across beyond biblical integration is well worth the read it’s by Roger Adick ERDVIG

Bob Stouffer

Excellent observations, Kellie. Clear. Succinct. Accurate. Thank you for so effectively and efficiently prompting us to engage in our own self-reflection about our practices.

Jacquelyn Houston

Thank you for presenting this perspective of unveiling the hidden curriculum, i.e. reflection as an educational best practice. I’d like to offer an additional lense unintentionally lost when unveiling any hidden portion of Christian school curriculum. My lense offered is the intentional inclusion of the integration of faith and learning and what that looks like in the curriculum. How powerful this inclusion would be towards actually ensuring student learning and spiritual transformation.


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