Kumashiro speaks on education and schooling using common sense as a topic, he defines this common sense in schooling as an expectation and education on what schools should be doing. We hide behind these ideas of common sense because they are easy to stand behind and just go with the flow, but Kumashiro argues that this common sense needs to be challenged. Common sense needs to be challenged because the ideas and outlines created by common sense in schooling are old and have never been challenged. Now in 2018 with a very fast changing society these outlines common sense has created have found to be connected with the oppression of many different groupings. The schools cannot be an area of oppression and due to the common sense thinking, we do not get a full understanding of society. Kumashiro made a fantastic point in regards to the common sense way of schooling in the USA, she said that when she went to go teach in Nepal she was sent to teach the kids and teachers the “right” way to teach. This is an issue because we find ourselves getting so caught up in what the “normal” thing to do, we forgot that there is many different ways and ideologies around the world. This way of thinking creates problems because it makes people view the world and life with blinders on. The importance of paying attention to common sense is key to change in all aspects of living not just education. The idea of going against the flow of things needs to happen to bring up new discussions and topics to change the normalized outline of things. We need to get away from this common sense thinking and start asking questions like “why” and “how” and challenge the set ideas of common sense.
Kumashiro defines common sense as, “what everyone should know” (Kumashiro, XXIX). In a classroom setting it is important to pay attention to common sense because teachers don’t just teach subjects they help shape students to be who they are in the present day. Teachers influence children’s thinking everyday. Therefore, by teaching students what common sense is and what it should involve in everyday life, this sets students up for success and teaches them to think for themselves. This is important to pay attention to as a teacher because if a student isn’t using common sense in the way they should we as educators can reiterate what students should be doing. It is a valuable subject to talk about in the classroom. As pre-service teachers I personally feel it is important to discuss this at the elementary to secondary level as well as post-secondary schooling because it is something that all students need to use.
A question that came to mind when reading was, “What are some things to do and/or say to a class if students are not using common sense?”
The problem of common sense (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).
In the introduction to his book, “Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice”, author Kevin Kumashiro gives an anecdote about his experience teaching in Nepal. His experience taught him about the contrasting ideas of common sense that he and the people of Nepal had. Living and teaching in Nepal taught Kumashiro that what he thought was common sense, was really just his own american ideals and that the people of Nepal lived and functioned in a way that was very different to his own. With regards to teaching, Kumashiro goes on to describe the common sense view of education in the United States as following a simple but strict guideline. There are a set number of classes, set class times, set class years, and generally pre-determined classes or teaching materials. Things in the United States are done in a certain way, and Kumashiro claims that they are not necessarily better than in other parts of the world. He also goes on to talk about how implementing those American ways of common sense teaching can be oppressive and imperialistic towards the other countries.
Kumashiro talks about how oppressive these common sense ideas of teaching can be to other countries, but also in the United States itself. It is important to notice and understand common sense, because it helps identify problems within our current school systems. Looking at and thinking critically about what we consider common sense in our schools helps to determine what may be some outdated ways of doing things. Picking about our ideas of what should or shouldn’t be in a classroom right now, or even how a classroom functions, can help to inspire change not only within our schools but also within ourselves as teachers.
Kumashiro doesn’t give a straight definition on what common sense is, but rather explains how common sense is a set of unwritten rules that people follow and should just know. Common sense can differ depending on where you live around the world, as US common sense is much different then Nepali, which makes common sense more complicated then some might think. If common sense is such a simple concept, why does it differ depending on location? Common sense is an important concept to pay attention to as it helps helps you adapt to the surroundings and their way of going about the day.
How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’
Kumashiro defines common sense as something or things that everybody should know. Kumashiro also says that common sense in a traditional sense is presented as a way of being neutral. But being neutral can often perpetuate systems of oppression and privilege. Kumashiro talks about how the insistence that we use common sense is actually an insistence that we see things society has traditionally viewed things and that we should keep viewing things in a traditional way. This way of seeing things means that common sense does not mean the unbiased standard of society, but rather as a tool to keep the status quo.
Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?
I think it is important that we pay attention to common sense because as society changes our understanding and ideas of what common sense are may change. Often when common sense is being used as a tool of oppression it is because the idea of common sense in this situation is that one group or another is seen as inferior. This creates a group mentality and beliefs that see this as true; a good example of this is segregation in the United States. The United States and even Canada saw African American people as an inferior people and should not receive the same rights as white people. It was commonly believed that African Americans were inferior that became common sense at the time. That is why it is important t that we as a society pay attention to common sense because if we do not then biased, racist and untrue ideas are assimilated into our way of thinking.
To me common sense means the ways in which you should behave and treat others. To me it should be common sense that you do not salute Adolf Hitler in a public park or ever in fact, but to some people that is just not common sense (https://regina.ctvnews.ca/man-sets-up-tent-in-wascana-park-gives-nazi-salute-to-protesters-1.4007473). I was always taught treat others how you would like to be treated. So when I am making decisions I always keep in mind the effect I am going to have on others and will it affect people in a negative way or positive way.
Kumashiro goes to Nepal lacking some awareness of this idea of ‘commonsense’. Kumashiro comes to find that the notion of common sense varies greatly depending on who it is you’re talking to. The students in Nepal were not interested in Kumashiro’s idea of what an education should look like, and this led him to understand that he also had preconceived ideas of what he believed education must look like. We all have preconceived notions of the norms and practices which we carry out on a daily basis, and too often we fail to see value in anything which deviates from our assumptions of what is ‘normal’. We should be able to analyze our own beliefs, and avoid pushing them blindly onto those who have a differing view of what is considered common sense.
It’s important to not turn a blind eye to conceptions of how education is carried out. Context is important, and as a teacher, I must be aware of who my students are, and what they consider important. Ideally, a balance will be found between different methods of teaching, and there will be an environment created which allows for many differing approaches to education. Questioning everything is important, but that shouldn’t simply mean reject everything we think we know about teaching. Moving forward, I must be willing to be wrong, paired with an interest in finding ways of teaching which impact each of my students in a positive way.
How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?
Before Kumashiro went overseas to teach in Nepal, he did not go there with the intentions to unearth new outlooks. However, he ultimately gained more insight than he expected. Kumashiro describes the contradicting ‘commonsense’ ideas from two cultures throughout his piece, particularly, the United States versus Nepal. After observing both cultures and living both ways of life in North America and Nepal, Kumashiro eventually came to the conclusion that common sense may be common knowledge for some individuals or groups, but it is not common sense among every person. Common sense has multiple meanings for plenty of people, and it depends on where in the world the person was raised, their culture, language, who raised them, living conditions, and numerous other factors that shaped the individual. Kumashiro’s understanding of common sense expanded when visiting Nepal, as their everyday life that seemed like common sense to them was not the common sense Kumashiro knew and understood. It is grave that we pay attention to what common sense is among the many groups and what the implications are when one group pushes their own understanding of common sense onto another group. Common sense can often lead to cultural imperialism and oppression when trying to teach one group the ‘superior’ commonsensical ideas. During Kumashiro’s experience, he came to this discovery that they were supporting American superiority by ultimately saying “our way of teaching is correct and your way is wrong” through their actions. Overall, Kumashiro was sent there to make students and teachers think differently about how to teach and the role students play. The Peace Corps and Kumashiro wanted to break the “lecture-practice-exam” approach and provide updated methods that were “common sense” in American schools, but they were unaware they were supporting oppression and the United States superiority by taking Nepal’s commonsensical views on schooling and trying to morphe these views into an Americanized system. In order to stop the anti-oppressive approach that the simple concept of common sense contains, the status-quo and social dynamics needs to be challenged because the oppression is masked as normal everyday life.
Introduction. The problem of common sense (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).
Kumashiro defines common sense as a cultural construct and a general way of thinking. He noticed, through his teaching efforts, that common sense is not the same across cultures. Through this weeks reading, we see how the common sense of American teachers was challenged when the teachers were tasked with “teaching” in Nepali schools. A cultural common sense in Nepal was that teachers were to recite information from government sanctioned texts and workbooks in order to prepare students for their government sanctioned exams. To a Canadian or a North American, this is nonsensical as students should learn things for the purpose of development and understanding of pedagogy. Other cultures think it to be common sense for students to know answers to questions. I believe the underlying message of this article is that common sense to one person is nonsense to another. Teachers must begin to understand that the purpose of their training is not to reshape the common sense of others, rather, to understand why people think the way they do.
This reading resonated with me as, when I was in high school, I had teachers from various different African countries and from various South American countries. Their understanding of our common sense was quite different than theirs. For them, it is common sense for students to address teachers formally, not to engage in discussions while working and other traditional approaches to education. Of course we, as Canadian students, thought it was just common sense to discuss answers and ideas with those around us to ensure the “best possible outcome”.
I truly believe that in our Canadian society, the multicultural class room will bring many views of “common sense” and it is not for us as teachers to challenge the common sense of student, rather our purpose is to expand on their already formed ideas of common sense! A student with parents from an Asian country may have a different idea of common sense compared to a student with parents from a South American country.
Factors that I believe influence common sense (supported by what I read in this weeks assigned readings) are: upbringing, age of parents, beliefs of students, and past experiences of people. It is interesting to see how common sense has changed over the years let alone from culture to culture.
We cannot take for granted that students will understand or “just know” something that we as teachers think to be common sense. We must assume that everyone has a different idea of common sense.
In the reading of “The Problem with Commonsense”, Kumashiro describes that they thought they knew the “commonsense” until they went to teach in Nepal where everything seemed different. They thought they knew the “normal” layout of the day, but with only 1 water tap in their community in Nepal, they had really think about the order of their day (pg. 2). While Kumashiro was in the classroom, they noticed a difference in the learning as well. They found the students had a hard time adjusting to the way Kumashiro taught which was American based. Through this, we need to realize that the rest of the world isn’t like our westernized education and other countries teach and learn in different ways. The “commonsense” in the Americas is very different from the east.