Common Sense – Is it Really that Common?

Hello everyone!

I just started ECS 210 this week and we had our first reading assigned. This week, we were assigned to do a reading about the problem of common sense.

This article was something different for me to read. I have never thought critically about common sense before. Often, without thought, I take common sense for granted since it typically favours me in a positive sense due to my privileges as a white, educated, middle-class person in Canada. This article explored common sense in schools and some of the ways that it is often oppressive.

The author of this article, Kumashiro, defines ‘common sense’ with regards to schooling as something that limits what is considered consistent with the purpose of schooling. Kumashiro also defines ‘common sense’ as something that tells people the exclusive list of things that schools should be doing.

Kumashiro made quite a lot of good points in their article. The biggest statement that they made in their article is that “common sense is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined or challenged”. I found this really stood out to me because they also mentioned that common sense can be, and often is, oppressive. I have never thought about common sense as oppressive before, but taking a deeper look at common sense, especially in a schooling sense, it can be extremely oppressive for many different people.

Common sense is not something that people are directly taught in most cases. Common sense are ideas that people pick up throughout their lives. Common sense is not the same in every country, province, city, or region. Common sense is something that teachers must be aware of. Something that could be thought of as common sense can be oppressive to people. For example, the common sense that all children above the age of five or six should be able to write their name with a pencil on paper in English can be oppressive. Students that are new immigrants to Canada that are well older than five or six might not be able to write their name in English and might feel that they are less than their peers if they need extra assistance.

Educators, including myself, must be aware of what things are thought of as ‘common sense’ and how these ideas will affect their students. Educators must understand that common sense is often created by the dominant group of society that have the privilege to create the narrative for the ‘norms’ of society. Teachers must challenge the norms that students are expected to learn and memorize as ‘common sense’. This is not an easy task.

Challenging the norms of a dominant white society will be a challenging task for me. I have never had to think about common sense before because I was never oppressed in ways that really stood out to me as a child. I might have felt the odd frustration due to being pushed into a specific box due to my gender or academic abilities, but this was not something that was at the front of my mind daily.

Common sense is something that many people in the world take for granted. As a future educator, it is important that I look at the influences that common sense has on my students and those around me. Growing up, ‘common sense’ often stated that since I was good academically that I would be terrible at sports. I did not often fit into this box and I was quite frustrated when teachers, my peers, or their parents would put me into this box. I found myself often trying to prove that I could do both. Were there any ‘common sense’ ideas that you did not fit into as a child or even as an adult?

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please respond to my question, if you feel comfortable sharing, in the comments below!

Ashley Osachoff

2 thoughts on “Common Sense – Is it Really that Common?

  1. Hi Ashley,
    I found your post to be very insightful and I liked that you gave examples from your own childhood as to how commonsense was limiting. I really liked when you said, “Common sense is something that teachers must be aware of. Something that could be thought of as common sense can be oppressive to people”. I agree that “commonsense ideas” can be very oppressive, especially when you have a mixture of cultures within a classroom. Different cultures will have different ideas of commonsense and as a teacher I think it is important to realize this.
    In my own life I have experienced the limiting nature of commonsense, especially from the input of my teachers. As a student I was good at music as well as math and science. A lot of my teachers, when they learned of all my musical involvement would dismiss my achievements in math and science because apparently you can be good at one or the other but not both. This didn’t really discourage me but it was kind of annoying. My experience with commonsense is not very severe or damaging so I can only imagine how it must feel when your core beliefs are judged because they are not “commonsense”.

    Thanks for a great post, I enjoyed reading it!


  2. Hello Ashley.
    I think you asked interesting questions and connected this article very well. I really liked that put this quote in, “common sense is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined or challenged”. I too found this to be a big point in the article. How would you suggest we move away from these biases, or standards of what we take for common sense?
    Thanks for Sharing,


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