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The Hidden Curriculum Revised and Expanded Review


There are those teens and young adults who just seem to know what to do in any social situation. Others struggle and make the kinds of social mistakes that make everybody wince if they are within hearing distance. Many young adults and teens, especially those with neurological differences like Attention Deficit Disorder are squarely in the group of people who grapple with knowing and understanding social rules. The Hidden Curriculum for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations for Adolescents and Young Adults was written for them. This is a revised and expanded edition of the popular The Hidden Curriculum Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations by Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa L. Trautman, and Ronda L. Schelvan.

The “hidden curriculum” is that body of knowledge which many people learn without even trying. They learn by observation and intuition. Knowing the social rules that govern our daily lives comes to them as easily as breathing. It seems to be an integral part of who they are.

Some teens and young adults with ADD and other neurological differences just seem to be adrift in a sea of rules that they don’t know or understand. Their peers might avoid having social contact with them. You may well hear them referred to as “socially inept” or “socially awkward.” Adults could say that they “lack people skills.” These people have social-cognitive challenges. This painful condition may be something that young folks who have trouble knowing about the hidden curriculum could, to some extent, have to struggle with all of their lives. However, their lives can get better by knowing about and learning about the social rules that govern day-to-day life. The Hidden Curriculum for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations for Adolescents and Young Adults is designed to help. This new book contains a lot of the same information as the earlier version, but it is tailored to address specific needs of adolescents and young adults.

In this expanded version of the book, beginning with the “Introduction” and “Chapter One: What is the ‘Hidden Curriculum’?” scenarios are used to illustrate the types of rules and why they are difficult for some young people to assimilate them. There are also explanations with illustrative scenarios showing how social rules are context based. Body language is also part of the hidden curriculum. The new version still has the table discussing body language, but it has photographs illustrating each example. These pictures are a positive addition to a useful tool.

Scenarios continue to illustrate “The Hidden Curriculum Across Environments – Chapter Two.” School, home, community, the workplace, and the legal system are discussed with particular attention to teen and young adult issues. The legal issues section emphasizes the importance of directly teaching what to do when you are dealing with a law enforcement official. It is suggested that people with social-cognitive challenges, who may not be able to verbally interact clearly, might want to carry a card stating their challenges and invoking the right to have an attorney or advocate present during an interview.

Chapter Three diverges completely from the previous book. I miss the former inclusion of SOCCSS (Situation, Options, Consequences, Choices, Strategies, Simulations), since I have used a shorter version of this strategy with great success in my teaching practice. That being said, this revised and expanded version focuses on evidence-based practices to teach the hidden curriculum. Teaching these social skills explicitly is an “antecedent-based intervention.” This means that when you teach the skills before the activity that will use the skills, there is a better chance for success. Problems can be minimized. Chapter Three of the book takes you through the best ways to do this. Practicing the skills that are taught is important. They should be practiced in a variety of settings. Enough of the hidden curriculum should be taught to build up to a “critical mass.” This is the time when a person knows enough about the social skills being taught to recognize them in his life and be able to use those skills. Tool templates and completed examples on how to help teach the hidden curriculum are included.

Chapter Four has been revamped with an eye toward what a teen or young adult needs to know to successfully negotiate social situations. More than fifty pages are devoted to the rules for various social situations and figures of speech. Twenty-seven diverse areas are addressed in this chapter. Examples include Texting/Cell Phones/E-Mails, Social Interactions, and Social Networking. Various social settings are explored including Birthdays, Movie Theaters, and Sporting Events. There is an extensive School section, and the authors even tell what to do when there is a substitute teacher. Some of the rules are aimed at preventing embarrassing situations. One example would be, “Don’t ask to be invited to someone’s party.” Other rules are more serious and address behaviors that could cause legal trouble. “When going to the airport, it is important to follow the directions of the airline staff. Yelling or arguing with them can get you in trouble.” The end of the chapter has a figurative speech, idiom, and slang terms guide. This is substantially different from the previous list, while retaining terms that are useful. It has been updated to include newer terms that older learners might hear.

I appreciate the more portable size of the newly revised The Hidden Curriculum for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations for Adolescents and Young Adults. It is roughly half the size of the original, although there are more pages in the expanded version. The Helvetica Neue typeface makes it very easy to read, even for those of us with older eyes! Placing the “Hidden Curriculum Items” into table format made them easier to track at a glance through their text.

This book is highly recommended for any person who has struggles with social situations. Within this book lie the tools to learn what most people without ADD or other neurological differences know so effortlessly. This revised The Hidden Curriculum for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations for Adolescents and Young Adults by Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa L. Trautman, and Ronda L. Schelvan can give you the means to improve your social interactions immensely. Here is a book that has the capability to help you to change your life when you are willing to address your needs with the information and strategies that are presented in these pages.

For full disclosure, Brenda Smith Myles was my thesis advisor. This book was provided for my review by the publisher, AAPC. I was not paid or compensated in any way for this review.


Over the years, this book has been invaluable for me in both my personal and professional life. The revised book has so much useful information, and I appreciate the chance to review it.




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Content copyright © 2014 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.

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