How does Kumashiro define 'commonsense?' Why is it so important to pay attention to the 'commonsense'?
In Kumashiro's article, ‘commonsense’ is defined as what everyone should know, which is the default answer that most people would give to define this term. However, commonsense to one person may be different to another person's definition; it depends on culture, values, gender, race, socioeconomic class, background, experiences, and more. Therefore, commonsense is not universal. People are set in their own ways/routines, and, to them, those behaviours and experiences are considered commonsense. Commonsense seems to be learned by newcomers in a new culture and is known by locals because they are accustomed to the norm, they have been raised by/with common sense. Commonsense is practiced over and over, without even realizing it, so it is ingrained. It may be easier for others/newcomers to question the commonsense in a new city/town/community because the locals consider it to be normal. Commonsense is often difficult to recognize and to challenge, because it gives a group/individual comfort. An example that I can identify, though, is how white people have a commonsense view that Indigenous peoples have a low socioeconomic status and engage in alcohol and drugs. This view gives a group of white people comfort in knowing that they are the superior group, and believe it will continue to be this way.
It is important to pay attention to commonsense so that we can question society and our values. We should be exposed to alternate ways of thinking and intentionally allow this to happen. Students should not be ingrained to think that something different to their beliefs are wrong, etc. simply because it is different than their ‘commonsense’ way of living/thinking. By questioning commonsense (such as having school morning to mid-afternoon, September to May) we become comfortable in our ways and continue to follow the norm. When the norm, however, is negatively impacting an individual/group of people, commonsense should be challenged. Kumashiro (2009) writes, "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 race, class ... and other social markers... has become normal ... it has become normal for [some people] to experience oppression" (p. XXXVI). As a teacher, we need to be open-minded towards all children, beliefs, etc. and if we do not question commonsense, our students are impacted.
Kumashiro. (2009). The Problem of Common Sense, In Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. XXIX – XLI.