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 By not paying attention to this, we continuously teach students outdated information and fail to set them up for success.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).