In the first chapter of “Against Common Sense,” Kumashiro describes three images of “good teachers.” They are learned practitioner, researcher, and professional. Reflecting on my time in the Education program, I think that the program uses aspects of all three, with a larger focus on the researcher and professional roles. All teachers need to think about who their students are and about what they are going to teach, but the U of R focuses much more on student’s diversity and identities. As a faculty, we are constantly disrupting our own beliefs and making changes to common practices. That’s what ECS 210 is all about. As a result, we are researchers who are always reflecting on what has shaped us and how we can improve ourselves and education. An example of this is the autobiography assignment we just completed. Lastly, as students we understand that teaching is a profession, and therefore know what is expected of us in this faculty. Overall, I think the faculty is a good mix of all three types of teaching, and am glad that it is. I think if a teacher were to focus too much on being one image, as a whole they would not be very strong. Challenging the norm, self reflecting, and being professional are all crucial components of being a teacher, in order to teach students to do the same.
In “A History of Education,” Painter discusses mankind and education. Painter uses the term “race” to describe both different cultures of people and the human race as a whole. This is evident when he says “Asia was the birthplace of the human race” (8), and “its people belong to the mongolian race” (9). Although Painter’s views were widely accepted at the time that the textbook was written, his views are now seen as controversial. I do not agree with how he uses the term “race,” as it was created by those who assumed that people from different cultures had a different biological make up. I also did not agree with the use of terms like “mankind” and “manhood,” when discussing people, because it made it appear that men are the more important sex.
The textbook talks about teachers being taught to think in racial terms. At the time that this textbook was written, I think teachers were taught to both believe and teach that their own race’s practices were superior, and that different teaching was required for different races. The implication of this teaching attitude may have meant that students were treated differently based on their cultural background, and taught a biased view of the world. It can be argued that education and views on humankind have changed since the release of Painter’s textbook, as stereotyping others based on their culture or gender is not as accepted. However, I do not think that these views have changed completely. People are still judged based on their skin colour, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. The anti-gay law in Sochi is a good example of this. The world has come a long way, but still has a ways to go.
For our first week of ECS 210, myself and my fellow students were asked to read the beginning of Kevin Kumashiro’s Against Common Sense. We were then asked to share our thoughts on what Kumashiro meant by common sense, and why it is so important. I enjoyed the author’s use of personal experience in his writing because it allowed me to better understand his meaning of common sense. According to the author, common sense is the accepted norms that are engrained into minds by place and culture. People become comfortable with certain customs and ideas, and often are not seeking to change them. In his writing, Kumashiro uses his experience in Nepal as an example. When first arriving in Nepal, Kumashiro is surprised to find that the local people only eat two meals per day, as compared to his three. The local people, on the other hand, think of eating two meals a day as the norm. What is classified as common sense changes from place to place, and is unique to each individual. Although not all notions of common sense are negative, certain common sense beliefs can be viewed as oppressive. Educators need to recognize negative common sense ideas in themselves and others, and get rid of these common sense ideas, in order to make their classroom a safe environment that is free of oppression. I look forward to reading more from Kumashiro, as so far I find Against Common Sense very thought provoking. His book highlights the importance of anti-oppression education, but leaves me wondering whether a classroom free of oppression at all times is possible.