Kumashiro Defining Common Sense

When I first look at the word ‘common sense’ I think of routines in my daily life that I do naturally or unintentionally.  For example, locking the door behind me when I leave in the morning is ‘common sense’ to me.  I do it every day because in order to protect my place I need to lock it, to keep harmful subjects out.  After reading Kumashiro’s definition of common sense I realize that my idea of common sense is shaped by the society I live in.  Looking back in time, locking your place before you left was not considered ‘common sense’ because it was rarely heard of.  Society was shaped by leaving your doors open to your neighbours.   According to Kumashiro, common sense is used in schools as a means of standards that should be upheld and reformed to.  Often common sense is oppressing and marginalizing in some areas, and privileging in others.  It is important to recognize the appropriateness of common sense because leaving areas of common sense unchallenged and prevailing addresses common sense as comforting or assuring; rather than, oppressing.  Common sense is difficult to challenge because discomforting knowledge is revealed in the process of teaching social justice, which is easier to leave untouched.  Unfair expectations are held upon students by teachers, parents and society through common sense.  Kumashiro states, “common sense often makes it easy to continue teaching and learning in ways that allow the oppressions already in play to continue to play out unchallenged in our schools and society” (XXV1).  The importance of understanding common sense in the classroom is to question assumptions and standards, to improve learning for all students.

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