How does Kumashiro define ‘common-sense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘common-sense’?
For Kumashiro ‘common-sense’ is an extremely reductive mindset that restricts the thoughts and imaginations of individuals. It is the belief that what is being done and has always been done is correct and any other way of behaving is simply ridiculous and undeserving of consideration. It is connected to what they have termed the moral imperative “should”, and the belief that there is a certain way that things should be and if they are different than this expectation they are simply wrong.
Kumshiro believes that it is important to pay attention to the common-sense because although it is often comforting to us it is often oppressive. The comfortable feeling that the common sense can often give us, that feeling that what we are doing is correct and has always been correct and that it is beyond need of consideration or serious reflection, only makes the common sense that much more dangerous as we often do not even realize we need to question or examine it.
If we do not pay attention to the common-sense assumptions we have, especially about teaching and learning it is impossible to learn and improve the way we learn and teach. We must remain open minded and constantly remind ourselves to examine our thinking for the common sense assumptions we have. If we are able to do this we will undoubtable become stronger teachers and better students.
What type(s) of curriculum model did Kumashiro encounter in Nepal?
In Nepal Kumashiro experienced curriculum that was very focused on memorization of information and techniques and prepared students for a test or teaching to the test type of education. The test and what the teachers were meant to impart to their students was very information based and did not leave any room for teacher interpretation or adaptation for the interests of the students.
What type(s) of curriculum model is the “common-sense” model in our Canadian school system? What might be the benefits and drawbacks to this model?
The Canadian curriculum is very different than the Nepal version and is a lot less rigid in its dictates of what the students need to know. It only gives broad subject areas and concepts that the students should understand at the end of the year. These broader based categories allow the teacher to teach using a variety of techniques and in ways that allow more engagement with the students who are encouraged to explore these broad areas more independently. This might make the job of teaching more difficult in Canada as there is no step by step direction or textbook that teachers are meant to follow. But it also allows teachers the freedom to find what works best for their students and class.
Moreover, I think the common sense model of Canada which involves telling teachers what their students have to learn in each grade is a bit outdated on its own. I believe teachers should be allowed to teach their students what the students are interested in and although there are basics like reading, writing, math and science that students must learn the teacher should be allowed to experiment and explore within these areas with their students and teach lesson that interest and excite the students in that particular classroom in that particular year.