“Think what it means for children to grow up now, and how different their experience of nature and definition of life is, or soon will be, from the experiences of us adults.” (Louv, 22) Quote taken from Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods
Without a doubt, the world is constantly changing and evolving, at a rate that is impossible to keep up with. As soon as we learn new, relevant information, that information because outdated. Hence the problem of creating curriculum when after the years it takes to create and finalize it, new information and knowledge is already available. However, that’s not just what this quote is focused on; rather, it’s the problem of the ever evolving technological nature of the world and the loss of interaction with the natural world that results.
Outdoor Education is something that can be seen as scary, or unsafe. Parents don’t want their kids away from home doing potentially dangerous tasks. Likewise, the school doesn’t want the liability of outdoor activities on them. This can make it hard for teachers to try and involve their students into the natural world of learning. However, it’s exactly those fears that also work as a convincing factor. If you, as a parent, are afraid to let your child stay overnight, on, for example, a camping trip with other adults for supervision and safety, as well as children they will spend their school years growing up and bonding with, how are they supposed to function on their own later in life? How are they supposed to grow up, ready to thrive in the world rather than hide away from it?
A teacher who is willing to brave the backlash of authority from the school and parents, just to give kids the chance to learn in their natural surroundings is one who is without a doubt, confident in the benefits. That alone is enough to be respectable.
I would like to also comment on the experiences I had with organizations like Girl Guides. I always find it amazing how excited and enthusiastic girls get about being able to spend a weekend outside, learning new skills and forging bonds with their friends. I think that sort of team building and experiential learning is something all age levels can benefit from, in all sorts of subject areas. Having a couple days, even just hours, away from technology and experiencing the natural world is something that doesn’t happen regularly for a lot of learners and it’s an important step for them to take before they’ve lost their connection to nature forever as an adult.
Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods. Algonquin Books Od Chapel Hill, 2006.
In closing, here are my final thoughts on the article:
As teachers, it is up to us to utilize things that Tyler's Rationale in that we take out the parts we consider key and critical, while recycling the rest. It’s entirely possible for something to give good points while simultaneously offering things we largely disagree on. Education and learning is about creating our own knowledge based on a plethora of thoughts and ideas. We can accept that things we may not necessarily agree with can work in certain settings, or worked previously, but also challenge that perhaps something else works better now. Learning is an ongoing process of trial and error and as teachers, we are forever going to be challenged to new norms and outcomes as set by society and our students.
PROMPT QUESTIONS: How does Kumashiro define 'common sense?' Why is it so important to pay attention to the 'commonsense'?
Kumashiro firstly defines common sense simply as things that everyone should know. However, as we become further immersed in his story on his experiences teaching in Nepal, it becomes clear that common sense is not the same for everyone and in many cases, is an extremely biased and ineffective way of teaching. What we deem as common sense is different for the next person, hence a reason why creating curriculum is difficult in the first place. With phrases like “students should know this topic because it’s common sense,” we are perhaps not focusing on where the students will be in the future and whether they will use the particular topic, but rather what we believe is needed for a full education. There are more than enough complaints about students not using calculus or the pythagorean theorem once out of school that perhaps we should reconsider how necessary these lessons in common sense material are. That’s not to say that those specific math skills are not important for career paths. Without a doubt, they are, but we have to understand that not every student is going to excel at or be inclined to use mathematics and that perhaps at a higher level, it should be purely choice.
As Kumashiro points out, part of the common sense problem of schools lies in that of tradition. Truly, the idea that the curriculum has been a certain way for x number of years and always consisted of x subject is an accurate representation. However, we almost seem to forget that the world is constantly changing and evolving in what we need to know. By not paying attention to this, we continuously teach students outdated information and fail to set them up for success. Kumashiro states that “Common sense is not what should shape educational reform of curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined and challenged,” (Kumashiro 36). This embodies the problem of common sense and challenges educators to reverse the way we currently think of it. To break past bias and tradition, and be on the up and up of the educational forefront.
Regarding this article, the following is my own personal thoughts.
Kumashiro’s article actually resonated fairly strongly with me because it is my goal to teach internationally after finishing my BoEd. Even though I haven’t been actively thinking about what or how I’m going to teach there, without a doubt I’ve already got a common sense bias to what should be taught, purely based on my own experiences and by what I’ve looked at in the SK curriculum. Especially depending on where I end up, it’s critical to watch what I teach to students, but at the same time, I want to give students beyond what the curriculum requires.
Another parallel I drew in regards to curriculum is based on my own experience with the BC curriculum compared to the one here in SK. I’ve noticed over and over how things vary and often wonder why certain topics are not more or less highlighted. Treaty Ed is a really good example of this, because it’s always been a big part of curriculum in BC starting in elementary school, and than more so as the focus for almost a full 3 years of high school social studies. So I’ve always found it interesting that many SK students I’ve met know very little about Treaty Ed and Aboriginal culture.
As a whole, Kumashiro's article gave me a lot to think about, and I believe I’ll have to challenge many of my own common sense knowledge prior to fully entering the educational field.
(Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).