What are we teaching?

Blog #1: The idea of ‘common sense’.

Upon reading and re-reading the article written by Kumashiro, the words “traditionally conditioned” kept coming to mind. Unfortunately, there is tight rope that all educators must cross in order to teach. I don’t mean a literal tight rope, but I do mean the tight rope of traditional pedagogues and ‘common sense’ practices that are placed within schools. Though there are plenty of educators who want and desire to teach in a variety of ways, many will fall short due to the concrete traditions that are laid out. When Kumashiro describes his experiences teaching in another country I am reminded by a quote from American novelist and activist Anne Lamott, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor”. Sadly, we live in a world of being culturally subjective towards perfectionism, traditions and expected knowledge – this is commonly known as ‘common sense’. Kumashiro describes common sense as comfortable, subjective, oppressive, and familiar practices. So why do we strive for ‘normal’ and ‘common sense’ when it is so oppressive and subjective? Regrettably, I sometimes feel in order to make changes within a style/system there must be conformity. I am not meaning that I conform to everything I want to make changes to, but in order to ‘rock the boat’ there must be trust established in yourself and for others to follow. I came across this quote by the Frances Hesselbein (former CEO of Girl Scouts of USA),

“Practice self-awareness, self-evaulation, and self-improvement. If we are aware that our manners – language, behaviour, and actions – are measured against our values and principles, we are able to more easily embody the philosophy, leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do”. 

I think Frances had the understanding of the concept of “be the change you want to see”. Oppression is a learned practice, it stems from our up bringing, culture, race, and age. I don’t believe the phrase should be ‘common sense’, because what I know in Regina, Saskatchewan may not be the same practices as another place across the country or even across the world. So does it actually make it common? The importance of knowing ‘common sense’ exists is to identify what and how we are taught, so as future educators we are able to be astute to the needs of all students within their classrooms.


Kumashiro Article


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