Against Common Sense

As part of ECS 210 this semester, students are to write reflections and responses to weekly readings.  I’ll be putting mine up here.

This first week of school we started reading Kevin Kumashiro’s book, Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice.  The phrase “social justice” is very trendy, and many find the concept an attractive one.  And why not?  Help those who have been oppressed and work for change, righting current societal wrongs.  Unfortunately for myself, and probably others, I am not sure exactly how to someday “teach” social justice, while already overwhelmed with thinking about teaching basic subject skills, preparing kids for the information age, and helping them lead productive and enjoyable lives, as one student says in the introduction.  It’s a tall order for sure.  That’s why I’m excited for this book.  On a quick look through the table of contents, Kumashiro takes a look at different subject areas and how to effectively incorporate anti-oppressive education in all subjects. This is a textbook that will be read.

Kumashiro says we need students to think independently, critically and creatively about whatever story is being taught.  Being aware of context, perspectives, consequences, etc when analyzing situations/problems are such valuable skills across the board.  Kumashiro then turns this critical lens on teachers themselves.  He begins to show how many common sense, or traditional teaching practices can be oppressive to all or some students.  We need to critically and creatively look at how and what we are teaching.  To not explore new ways of approaching an old curriculum or new information, we may be perpetuating oppression in our classes.  This feels so important as all teachers want their students to feel safe and cared for in their classrooms.

Finally, I may just be a sucker for a quality alliteration, but the questions at the end of each chapter to encourage comprehension, concretization, and critique seem well done.  They may be no different than other study guide questions, but the 3 C’s really sold me.




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