Common Sense

Kumashiro typically defines common sense as the general knowledge or norm held by a group. People may hold different common sense ideas due to geographical location, field of study, culture, etc. For Canadian teachers, common sense in the classroom may include the routine of a day being classes, recess or lunch breaks, more classes, then home. It looks like twice as many English classes than Physical Education because English is more important. It tells is that curriculum is the most important thing to teach and the only knowledge that kids need to succeed. Studies, professionals, and leaders tell us what our common sense should be in our lives, whether it is right or wrong we often don’t question it because “that’s just how it is”.

It is important to pay attention to common sense in both ourselves and others. Because common sense thinking isn’t really taught but rather learned behaviour of how things are supposed to be, it’s hard to disrupt from the inside. Often we think that our own common sense is the only way to do something or think, so we subconsciously push out any alternative views. By recognizing this, we will not only open our eyes to other perspectives, but have the ability to share ideas. We will learn that just because we are accustomed to a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. By criticizing our own common sense, we can find the oppressive and invasive ideas we hold. Kumashiro identifies the United States’ ways of teaching as oppressive as they believe their way is the best and only way so other countries should adopt it. When we challenge the ideas that are known as common-sense, we transition to thinking of “could” instead of “should”, opening the door to possibilities.

As teachers we need to challenge this, like many other things we stand up for, and refuse to follow and lead by only one common sense. It is essential for us to lead with an open mind, with alternative ways of thinking, and teaching that there is not always just one right way or answer.



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