The Problem of Common Sense – Kumashiro (2009)



1) How does Kumashiro define “common sense?”

2) Why is it so important to pay attention to the “common sense?”



My understanding of common sense, as described by Kumashiro, is that common sense is certain routines, habits, practices, etc. learned from the places and people that surround us. For example, in this particular Nepali village there was only one facet for showering, cleaning, washing, watering, etc. The people of this location learned a specific routine that best suited their situation and then passed it down through each generation. Contrastingly, most Canadian households have individual water sources for different tasks (bathrooms for hygiene, kitchens for cleaning and water hoses for yard work). It is common sense for us Canadians to use the bathrooms, kitchen sinks, and hoses as needed because many of us are not restricted to such a routine. Our specific location has enabled us to develop a common sense unique from that of Nepal’s.

As previously mentioned, common sense is also learned from the people around us. In Nepal, Kumashiro describes his frustration with the education system, specifically when students and teachers encouraged him to apply physical disciplinary actions to misbehaving students. On the contrary, here in Canada it is extremely frowned upon to abuse students – although it was not always this way. Traditionally, physical discipline was widely accepted in schools. After many people challenged this practice, society and people within the education system learned that there are better, healthier actions that can be taken to discipline children. Such as, our common sense about discipline has drastically changed thanks to people that have challenged our traditional ways of thinking and educated the rest of society.

So why is it so important to pay attention to our common sense? Kumashiro has helped me to see how oppressive common sense can be. It provides people with comfort which leads to the belief that things do not need to be changed and thus pressuring society to conform to what is “normal” or common sense. These norms often result in marginalized people as their race, class, gender, religion, etc. do not fit into what is considered common sense. As best said by Kumashiro, common sense “makes us think that this is the way things are supposed to be.”

I believe it is important to create inclusivity in our society and to evolve beyond what is deemed common sense. So, always question, always challenge, and develop an ever changing and adapting common sense.