The Hidden Curriculum

Are you familiar with the term?

A hidden curriculum promotes and teaches values and beliefs outside the educational curriculum e.g., through social interactions and administrative behavior. Can you identify the hidden curriculum in a school that you attended? Or perhaps a school that your child attends?

At Blue Planet Schools we seek to uncover a school’s hidden curriculum and empower students to lead change initiatives. We begin this process through observation of simple human behaviors. What are the purchasing practices? What are the recycling and waste stream management programs? What are the water and water conservation practices? Are these shared across the school, classroom to classroom?

Blue Planet Schools will help schools assemble a diverse team composed of school leadership, teachers, facilities management, and student representatives be involved in all discussions and recommendations.


Establishing schools as a model environmental leaders

Isn’t it about time?

Jason and I founded Blue Planet Schools recognizing that learning should not be limited to the four walls of a classroom. Blue Planet Schools seeks to turn schools and school operations into environmental learning labs. We do this first by working with schools to establish a baseline of current practices and identifying areas for improvement and future goals. We provide recommendations and resources in all areas of school operations, including, but not limited to:

• Environmentally-friendly products purchasing policy
• Consolidate purchasing and leverage strategic sourcing opportunities
• Solid waste reduction and recycling
• Energy conservation and purchasing
• Water and waste water conservation and practices
• Hazardous materials reduction and management
• Waste stream management with student involvement
• Campus grounds and land use
• Carpooling, public transportation, bicycling, and walking
• Evaluation of bus fleets, hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles
• Implement carbon reduction programs in bus and car wait zones
• Regional and organic food purchasing programs
• Ongoing evaluation of lunch programs
• Garden-based learning programs demonstrated in lunch program
• Promote healthy and organic snacks in school vending machines
• New construction and planning

Inspired Blue

Jason Brodersen and I are co-founding partners of Blue Planet Schools (BPS). We are near finalizing our non-profit status, no simple process as many of you know. Jason is an environmental consultant (+20 years), scientist, rockstar dad and an acl-torn and healing kite surfing addict. Jason and his wife Kerry have have two amazing girls in grades five and seven.

My wife Karen and I strive and consistently fall just short of rockstar status with our two girls ages three and five. I earned a masters in education and work as a vice principal at an excellent little middle school in Larkspur, CA. Check out Hall Middle School here.

Jason and I penciled out a few ideas which now drive our strategy based on the following realization:

Many K-12 schools have included “eco-friendly” and “green” projects in curricula and facilities management. While these projects are a step in the right direction, they often only address a single practice or waste stream, and do not impact overall school policies and behaviors. Examples include classroom paper recycling in the absence of a school-wide recycling or recycled-paper purchasing program, and “bike-to-school” days in the absence of school or school district policies to discourage single-passenger transit. Schools may emphasize the importance of minimizing and recycling plastic, but in turn allow the sale of plastic water bottles at school functions.

Many schools aspire to be leaders in environmental practices and recognize the need to provide leadership as environmental stewards, but they lack a comprehensive plan to achieve these goals.

The Blue Planet Schools project engenders school practices that establish responsible examples of environmental stewardship and create a hidden curriculum of environmental awareness. We seek to immerse students in every possible element of this process. Think place-based education using the school itself as the environmental learning lab.

Our belief is that each school can be left with a self-sustaining program it can build upon in the future. Along the way we encourage students to self-reflect and think, create new meaning and ultimately commit to the smallest of behavior changes. Our approach teaches students not only the lessons of the classroom, but also the essential underlying values, and how to apply those values to protect our planet.

Off and running

Here we go. Just like that.

Blue Planet Schools is on the move. We are working with our first school in Marin County, CA. Stay tuned for updates re: our work with Henry C. Hall Middle School. What is our mission?

Blue Planet Schools will (1) turn K-12 schools into model environmental leaders, (2) create a social system of followers and environmental learners, and (3) enact offline programs that empower students and the community to be active contributors to the school’s environmental stewardship practices. Our mission is to work together with students and faculty to create a sustainable, hidden curriculum that supports the protection of our planet’s resources.

We are Blue Planet Schools.