New Normal//

The Hidden Curriculum of Life

Learn how to focus on the core basics that can help successfully navigate even through unprecedented time like the Covid pandemic.

Photo by Amateur Hub/ Pexels
Photo by Amateur Hub/ Pexels

The other day, I was listening to a Reimagine podcast by Google Co-Founder Eric Schmidt. Eric invites leaders from across the world to discuss a variety of issues that have impacted our lives in general post the Covid pandemic. Some of the ideas on the podcast are truly transformational, while the others also make us believe that we are just another species in the evolutionary pyramid. No matter how smart and evolved we may become, no matter how much AI and Machine Learning capabilities we may develop, the game of life will always have questions we don’t know answers to; will always have a syllabus we never studied and thus it’s important to understand that there will always be a hidden curriculum of life which we can best prepare for by focusing on the basics.

Coined by Philip W Jackson in 1968 in his book titled Life in Classrooms, the hidden curriculum is defined as “the unwritten rules or guidelines in relation to attitudes, beliefs, terminology, behavior and social interaction/ situations which are often not directly taught but are considered to be known and universally understood”. While the concept of The Hidden Curriculum may have scholastic origins, its relevance in the aftermath of Covid-19 makes it relevant and appropriate for us to focus on what really matters. It’s the sheer basics which every worthwhile experience teaches us, yet we keep forgetting the same. 

In the context of India, when Covid-19 brought the country to a lockdown in the month of March, a lot of things changed for so many of us. Schools were Zoomified while millions gave up studies due to lack of digital access; corporate work moved from boardrooms to bedrooms; mental health issues soared and  divorce cases increased; savings depleted as stock markets crashed; hiring was frozen as layoffs happened; sale of immunity boosters and hand sanitizers increased. 

While each one of us was trying to recalibrate to the new normal, what new normal was itself was itself not clear. Amidst this chaos what flourished was trivialism (as one could see in the growth of Viral Videos), escapism (as Netflix and Hotstars were seen as escape from harsh reality), gyaanism (the increasing demand for online courses to stay relevant) and FOMOism (Fear of Missing Out — that’s why from pakoras to sarees, everything went online).  

Amid the search for a new normal, what really matters were those moments of insight, moments of solitude and reflection which helped us understand the hidden curriculum of life. Here is what the hidden curriculum of life taught me during last few months: 

1. NOW MATTERS 

How many of us were planning a holiday during lockdown? How many of us were planning to buy a second house during the pandemic? Not many, because, when the existence itself is under question, we focus on what matters most. Now matters more than where we come from or where we plan to go. On an average, human beings spend most of their time either brooding the past or thinking of a wishful future. These must be recalibrated to the now. 

2. HEALTH MATTERS 

It’s not necessary that you may have six pack abs or a Size Zero figure or zero dandruff scalp. Life is much more than what we purchase to differentiate ourselves from the shelf of a grocery store. Being healthy is important and will always be. If you are not healthy, nothing else really matters, not even loads of money in your bank account. 

3. BELIEF MATTERS 

In the month of March and April I did over 40 workshops for multiple corporates where employees were all freaked out due to the fear of Covid Pandemic. Indeed events like these are overwhelming, however, when we stop believing in ourselves, the issue becomes more complex and challenging to handle. External validations only give a perspective, all the self-belief rests within you. You don’t need to search for it elsewhere.   

4. SUPPORT MATTERS 

How many of us have someone whom we can speak to and reach out to discuss your problems and challenges? How many people reach out to us when they face challenges? Seeking support and providing support is a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. It develops stronger bonds, connects and optimises our Karma.  

5. VALUES MATTER 

When faced with troubled waters, what is it that you will go back to? What has stayed with you through the thick and thin of your life? What do you hold up to when things are not favourable? Those are your values that help you sail through the not so pleasant times of life.  

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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