“The Problem of Common Sense” Response

Introduction; Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI

Question: How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?

Common sense described by Kumashiro is “what everyone should know”. The problem that we discover, as it relates to education, is that common sense varies from place to place. The example we see in the reading is when Kumashiro explains his time teaching in Nepal. Life, in general, was very different than that of America. His common sense flew out the window, and he had to change how he thought about everything, from meals to water, to ever privacy. The classroom was no different, where he explains that he wanted to bring what he learned in America into his classroom in Nepal. He wanted to see students engaged and willing to interact, but as he explains in the article, they were instead quiet and only spoke as a group because that was commonsense to them.

Photo Credit: afagen Flickr via Compfight cc

The question of why it’s so important to pay attention to commonsense is because, as Kumashiro explains, has led to oppression within schools. Whether we realize it or not, commonsense has led to the normalization of discrimination, inequality, biases, and much more. What Kumashiro suggests is that if we are not willing to see these things or do something about it, then this oppression will continue to go on unchallenged. There are many ways to approach anti-oppressive education, and there is no “best solution” to the problem. The main goal is to challenge oppression. The things we teach, and how we teach them, have a huge impact on whether or not that happens.


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