What does it mean to have common sense?

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Common Sense or Societal Biases?

            Socialization happens to every individual in a society living with rules and regulation. This phenomenon starts at birth and continues throughout an individual’s life, yet it is often not blatantly noticed. In order to understand what most take for granted the “common sense” of a culture, it is important to take a step back and acknowledge the institutional and societal pressure to behave and think a certain way.  In Kumashiro’s article “The Problem with Common Sense” this issue is investigated through the lenses of the American curriculum and school systems.

            Kumashiro’s personal experience of going to teach in Nepal is an interesting study into their school system through an American perspective. He comments upon how he was sent to Nepal in order to “better” their classrooms and teachers, but instead finds resistance from the pupils who were used to a different education system. In Nepal, the education branch is based strongly on the lecture-practice-exam approach and the students felt that Kumashiro was wasting time when he taught anything differently. While the systems of the schools in Nepal has been cemented with the public, Kumashiro was sent there to teach a “superior” American way. Instead he reflected upon what makes the American way better and what makes a society think a certain way?

            Those who say schools have no room for politics are not looking at the bigger, societal picture of schools as an institution. Schools are the main source of socialization for children growing up, they are taught how to dress, how to behave, and many other aspects of everyday North American society. While this can be a positive aspect it can also be an extremely detrimental one to those who do not fit into idea of a successful American. Those who study the school as an institution will not have to search long before finding deep themes of colonialism, sexism, racism, and other isms. This is why it is so important to reflect on why we think the way we do, and not simple take anything for granted as simple “common sense”.

10 January 2019

Introduction. The problem of common sense (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI).


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