For my ECS210 class this semester, we will be taking the time to read Kumashiro’s Against Comme Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice. In this post, I will share my thoughts and my favorite quotes in the foreword and introduction part of the text.
As I first picked up this book, let’s be honest, I thought it sounded very complicated. But after reading just a few sentences, I was hooked. I cannot wait to pick up this book and start reading through the whole thing. In the foreword, Gloria Ladson-Billings from the University of Wisconsin-Madison gives us a wonderful taste of what this text has to offer, without “sugar-coating” it. She emphasizes the importance of pre-service and first year teachers to “build a network of trust with the parents and the community members”, a step that many new teachers seem to forget. This is where my ECMP355 class comes in handy. It is a tool to build an incredible network of people and resources online, using different applications and programs. Also, the examples and the choices in this volume are based on real-life experiences, which makes it even more interesting!
In the introduction chapter, we explore how the term common sense is defined. Common sense are “assumptions” made daily, in different contexts, i.e: common sense will be different from one person to another, from a household to another, from communities, etc. Kumashiro mentions that “common sensical ideas often give us some sense of comfort […] commonsensical ideas are often what help us to make sense of and feel at ease with the things that get repeated in our everyday lives” (p. XXXV). The first part of the text also introduces us to social justice, norms & standards, and teaching against oppression. “Teaching towards social justice means teaching students to think independently, critically, and creatively about whatever story is being taught” (p. XXV), therefore, by teaching against oppression, we are teaching students to have ideas and opinions of their own, allowing them to build their character, their self-esteem, and letting them know that it’s “okay” to be different and have different views on subjects.
Learning standards are also mentioned in the opening chapter and I wonder, who gets to decide what the standards are? Who gets to decide what is right or wrong to teach? Why are we only exploring certain perspectives and certain goals? We should continuously be expanding our knowledge and we should be able to learn things that are not necessarily in the curriculum or the learning “standards”, giving students the right to be intellectually free.
In addition to learning standards, the author briefly explains how teachers and teaching are seen in very “traditional ways” and how most people have this picture perfect or stereotype idea of how a teacher should be and what they should be teaching in their classrooms, because “teachers are seen as ‘professionals’ or ‘efficient’ when they teach in the ‘traditional’ ways” (p. XXXV). The same applies to the school establishments.
I could go on and on about all I read in the first few pages. I learnt a lot already and I cannot wait to see what this book has to offer. I have a feeling it will be a very helpful teaching tool as to include different teaching techniques in my future career. “Common sense allows oppressions to go unchallenged in schools and society” and I hope to be one of those teachers that can think outside of the box and challenge these oppressions. I want my students to have an open mind about society and social justice, allowing them to break from having pre-conceived prejudices.
What are your thoughts on common sense?