Common Sense: What is it doing for the educational system?

I always believed that common sense was knowledge of the obvious. For example, it is common sense to own a winter jacket when living in Saskatchewan. It is common sense to pay for your products before exiting a store. After reading Kumashiro’s article, “The Problem of Common Sense” I learned that in the career of education, there is a separate definition for common sense. I believe that the common sense that Kumashiro shares is a way to hide everything that is wrong with school systems.

When I was reading Kumashiro’s experience as a teacher in Nepal I couldn’t help but think of Professor Hildebrandt’s first teaching experiences. Hildebrandt taught at a grade k-6 school. Whenever Hildebrandt would take her kids to a different part of the school, they would have to walk in a single filed line and be absolutely silent. If her kids would speak in line she was told to stop the class from walking and stand there until the kids became silent again. Their lunch times were exactly the same. The students in the school would all sit in a cafeteria in complete silence. Hildebrandt would get told that some of her students were getting suspended because of the fact that her students spoke DURING LUNCH TIME. Kumashiro’s experience was very familiar, except the students were the ones pointing out what he was doing wrong. The students were encouraging him to make sure to hit students when they were misbehaving. He wanted students to participate and engage in learning, overall just have fun with it. The students would just write word for word whatever was on the board. The staff and students in these two experiences believed that this behaviour within the schools was common sense. Not common sense in a way as in this is day to day knowledge, but in a way that it overshadows what is clearly wrong in the education systems. Teachers and students are feeding into “normal” school behaviour which consists of no talking, writing out what is on the board, not engaging in what is being taught, etc. I think this “normal” school behaviour is what I would call “educational common sense”. I think this is how Kumashiro is defining common sense. As Kumashiro says in his article, “Common sense does not often tell us that the status quo is quite oppressive” (36).

During this week’s lecture professor Cappello said, “Our belief of curriculum is relatively common sense”. When he said this I never really understood as to why he was saying it. After reading the article I made some connections as to what I believe common sense is and how it connects to the curriculum. As I said above, the common sense that people have within schools is a way to make sure people do not catch what is wrong with school systems that are being introduced.

There is a section in the article titled Anti-Oppressive Education. As I was reading this section I kept thinking of when the class in this week’s lecture were sharing our ideas of our own definitions of curriculum. There was one that stated that curriculums are guidelines but we can make them our own. Doing so, this is what differs teachers from one another and this is how educators can cheat the curriculum and create an education system that is less robotic and more interesting and fun for the students.

It is important to pay attention to these different types of common sense. The sooner people realize that this common sense is hiding the flaws of our school systems, the sooner we can make change. No more sitting/walking in single filed rows. No more raising your hand if you want to speak. It is time that students are encouraged to speak in class and participate in what is being taught. A few months back I came across a YouTube video that brings awareness to everything that is wrong with the school system. I get so inspired by it and I am going to link it down below for anyone who also wants to get inspired to make a change.




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