The topic on our first week in ECS 210 class is about curriculum. Alongside, we are assigned to read the introduction of our textbook, The Problem with Common Sense (Kumashiro, XXIX to XLI). We are then asked to take note of the author’s definition of ‘commonsense’ and the importance of paying attention to it.
Kumashiro indirectly defined ‘commonsense’ as “what everyone should know” (Kumashiro, XXIX). He spent his first few weeks in a village in Nepal, teaching in classrooms as a volunteer and at the same time, as a learner who tries to acquire knowledge of the lifestyle of the villagers. It is important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’ for several reasons.
First, ‘commonsense’ does not apply universally. This means that what was considered as ‘commonsense’ in a particular place is not fully applicable to another place—just like Kumashiro’s experience in Nepal. Our daily routine is very familiar to us that it becomes a part of our commonsense. However, we cannot bring the commonalities of time, place, things, etc. that became part of our commonsense as we travel. With this in mind, it is easy to understand that we cannot effectuate our daily routine into another place. This is because they also have established their own notion of commonsense. However, we can always learn the common practices of a new environment. Thus, paying attention to ‘commonsense’ will allow an individual to restrict their personal assumption towards a certain notion.
Second, ‘commonsense’ can be considered as enrooted to oppression. This is because ‘commonsense’ conceals several social oppressions, such as racism, sexism, ageism, etc., to the extent that we currently consider them as norms in our society. In the book Against Common Sense, Kumashiro also mentioned education as a participant of ‘commonsense’ because it unintentionally supports the power of majority. This is because our society was accustomed that teachers do the teaching and students are in class to learn and do what the teachers told them to do. In other words, teachers and students only play their roles because that is what they were “supposed to do”. With this in mind, schooling restricts the possibility of further growth of both students and teachers. It limits knowledge and constricts creative thinking. Hence, questioning ‘commonsense’ will allow us to perceive the invisible suppression that lies within our society.
Overall, Kumashiro prompts us, the readers, to avoid ‘commonsense’, especially in education. This is because teaching within “commonsense” is teaching with assumptions. Many are aware that education is a conservative institution. However, the society looks forward to education to solve a variety of social problems such as poverty, bullying, violence, and crime. With this in mind, we can say that education, although slow to change, is capable of adjusting to work against ‘commonsense’. Thus, we, future educators, must participate in practicing the teaching against educational ‘commonsense’, because we have the power to shape the society and future generations.