The “Problem” of Common Sense

How does Kumashiro define common sense and why is it so important?


Kumashiro defines common sense as education through familiarity and personal experience; a simple, yet practical theory. Kumashiro also defines common sense as things that we have come to know as the “norm”- just typical things that typical people do every day. Why? Because it’s common sense. That being said, it’s the thing that everybody does, therefore, it should all be the same. Therefore, when it comes to education, Kumashiro says that common sense in this aspect is no different as all schooling should be the same. Kumashiro argues that this ideology doesn’t explain what schools COULD be doing, but rather, what they SHOULD be doing. This demonstrates the idea that things that are considered “common sense” is just expected by all teachers even though not all students may not have the same understanding of “common sense” as they do.

Assuming every student has the “same” level of common sense is a bold move and is therefore why it is so important to consider. Students are and can be raised in very different environments, and what one student learns at home may not be what another student learns. Common sense is not something that is purely taught at school, so despite many students having the same teachers and learning their ways of common sense, students will still go home and experience different lives and that is why it is so important to consider problems such as these within common sense. Part of our job as teachers is to ensure each of our students experiences the same opportunities, and that will not ever happen if we belittle a student because they asked if the teacher prefers black or blue pen.

Week 2: The Tyler Rationale

Before this article, I did not know this even had a name. I saw and continue to see it happening around me all the time but thought nothing of it, and perhaps even that is an effect of the Tyler Rationale. Now that I am thinking about ways I have experienced the Tyler Rationale, I see it all over… in elementary school all the desks are aligned and face the teacher, maybe in high school you are allotted tables but you still need to face your body in a direction the teacher approves. All throughout elementary and secondary school you need special permission from the teacher to use the bathroom or go to the water fountain, and hands must be raised before you speak. Even in university, sure students are able to go about more freely, as we don’t really need to ask to get a drink or allow our bodies to urinate in the bathroom stall. However, at times, university students still do raise their hands when the class is having an engaging and insightful conversation because that is what we have been trained to do; and thus, another effect of the Tyler Rationale. The Tyler Rationale is all about behaviour and it seems like it is almost as if it is about how well you can behave yourself in public situations and then giving that a label called learning.

I think this rationale just tells young students how to behave.  It is pretty much saying: if you behave “properly” in school, you will do well in society; only those who behave “properly” will receive good grades; and, only those who behave “properly” will I guess “blend in” with the social norms of today’s society and therefore won’t be questioned about who they are if they act “this” way. This is a limitation because I feel as if you are telling students to not be themselves. It is true that you can still have a heavily learning based environment even if a student has their feet up on a chair or might have a water bottle or juice on their desk. Additionally, although the grade levels are obviously different, if you were to put a university class and an elementary school class right next door to each other, you would still obviously be able to tell that it is a classroom where students are learning purely through the student’s actions and behaviours because of the Tyler Rationale.

I suppose a benefit of this is that it does provide structure. How else is a teacher going to manage a classroom of students regardless of their age? However, if there was a new way to provide structure to students and unlearn (most) parts of the Tyler Rationale, that could be beneficial.