Common sense is a dangerous thing. Simply living everyday life and participating in society’s “common sense” is dangerous. This kind of living does not force ourselves to challenge what common sense means to us as individuals, certain social groups, or the society as a whole. Everyone has a different idea about what common sense is based on their experiences in life, culture and education. Without thinking many of us participate in the commonsensical ideas that we have come to accept from our society. They consist of mainly unwritten ideas or tips that appear to be logical and make perfect sense when one is introduced to them, such as “looking both ways before crossing the street”, “you have to learn to walk before you can run” and “keeping eye contact during conversation is polite and shows you are interested in what the other person has to say.” We begin to repeat these ideas over and over to ourselves and others. Eventually we stop challenging them because it appears to be something that everyone knows, and everyone can’t be wrong, right? Kumashiro challenges us to think critically and fight the urge to think the same way as everyone else. Instead we are encouraged to “teach in ways that disrupt, challenge, work against, and critique the status quo,” (XVII). Below are some of the quotations and ideas that stood out to me and frame my thinking towards Kumashiro’s Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice.
– Pg. XIX, “the fact that the classroom is fraught with challenges and constraints is not an excuse for failing to grapple with social justice issues and anti-oppressive pedagogies.” I like this quotation because of the “there-are-no-excuses” attitude that should go hand in hand with fighting for social justice.
-Pg. XIX building an alliance and network of trust in the community as a first step as a new teacher. Intrapersonal skills help to build these relationships.
-Pg. XX, “one of our major responsibilities is to learn – to learn from and with students about their lives, their worlds, and the wider world beyond the classroom and school.” This statement resonates with me because I believe teachers should be life-long learners, and I do agree that it is a responsibility, not just a helpful tool, to get to know our students. How can we teach people when we cannot understand the most important influences and events in their lives?
-Pg. XXIV, “curriculum standards reflect what some in society believe are things that students should know and be able to do, and thus cannot help but reflect only certain perspectives and advance only certain goals.” Therefore, these beliefs go unquestioned and do not take into account cultural differences, hence “curriculum can reinforce social hierarchies.”
-Pg. XXV, “Teaching towards social justice does not mean teaching the ‘better’ curriculum or the better story; rather it means teaching students to think independently, critically, and creatively about whatever story is being taught.”
-Pg. XXVI, “The norms of schooling, like the norms of society, privilege and benefit some groups and identities while marginalizing and subordinating others on the basis of… social markers.” This is a major point for me because I think many people do not choose to see that in order for someone to benefit from something, someone else has to suffer or become hindered. This means denying student’s rights to be equal and have equal opportunities, and these are the dangers of common sense.