“The Problem of Common Sense”

Reading:  “The Problem of Common Sense” by Kevin K. Kusmashiro.  

Prompt: How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?

Kevin K. Kusmashiro defines “common sense” as the normative practices in everyday living and the justification of certain behaviours and thinking. It is important to pay attention to “commonsense” because what is determined as “common sense” differs from culture to culture and different people groups.  In Kusmashiro’s case his American “common sense” did not make much sense to the Nepali peoples’ “common sense.” 

Such as in the case of Kusmashiro. In the Nepali school context it was “common sense” that the teacher, Kusmashiro,  would prepare the students for the midterms and end of year exams using the content of the designated textbook. His American approach to facilitating learning in the classroom did not translate well to the students. The students saw his teaching methods as detrimental to their educational success, specifically their success in passing the midterms and end of year exams. The Nepali’s “common sense” was oppressive to Kusmashiro’s method of teaching. It can also be said that if the situation was reversed Kumashiro American “common sense” way of teaching could be seen as oppressive.

As seen in Kusmashiro’s experience in Nepal, the dominant  “common sense” can be oppressive to other ways of thinking.  If there is a deviation from the dominant “common sense” that person is  dubbed as being weird. Worse case scenario, dubbed as illogical and unable to behave in the acceptable manner. People with the dominant “common sense” would try to correct this deviation. In turn this would oppress other individuals’  behaviours and thinking. Within the Canadian context the education system is likely to unintentionally oppress students due to the ethical diversity of the Canadian student population. The students, especially recently immigrated one and first-generation migrants,  could clash with the dominant Canadian “common sense.”  It is important to pay attention to “common sense” because a group has a different way of “common sense.” As teachers, we will encounter many different types of common sense will clash with our “common sense” and that of the school’s. Students themselves will have common sense that will be different not only to the schools but from each other.  Teachers and schools must be aware of the concept of “common sense” in order that the dominant Canadian “common sense” does not oppress other variants of “common sense.”


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Teacher in training.

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