The reading “Preparing Teachers For Crisis: A Sample Lesson” by Kumashiro explores ideas of anti-oppressive education by calling on educators to examine commonsensical ideas of learning. Kumashiro notes early in the article that “[t]heir is something oppressive about what we often say it means to be a student and, simultaneously, what it means to learn” (23). He introduces the revolutionary idea of teaching about oppression through the end goal of student crisis, where students confront troubling knowledge and learn by “work[ing] through their crisis” (30). The reading invokes many questions we have about common sense ideas in our education system surrounding oppression and how to avoid it. It seems like common sense to question and advocate for anti-oppressive ideas and practice but it often isn’t. I believe the first step in doing so is identifying common sense norms, such as what our education system expects from “good” students.
What does it mean to be a good student? This question is more heavily weighted than what one might think. My own common sense answer to this is centered around hard work, positive attitude, good attendance, and good listening skills. To get a more broad understanding of what one expects from good students I took to my twitter account.
I got a broad range of great answers from educators and aspiring educators. Though these ideas can be considered common sense they still are important qualities in classrooms. Most of the answers portrayed similar common sense ideas about a “good” student as my own. A few examples are shown below.
Our education system is built around rewarding students with qualities such as the ones above. These students often produce work at the levels expected or even beyond what the teacher intends. They absorb information presented to them in a timely manner and are able to relay the same information without challenging it. These types of students often come from supportive families, who are willing to help aid and foster the students educational needs. These students typically don’t have disabilities that make it challenging for them to sit still, process information, spell, read, etc. Students that have conflicting qualities and circumstances as the ones above, unfortunately, are often oppressed by our education system and don’t benefit from the same rewards as a “good” student.
These common sense ideas of a “good” student can be dangerous. It leaves students who aren’t considered to be “good” behind and their full potential untapped. Teaching for and rewarding only one type of student allows for only one type of student to perform at their greatest potential. It’s important to question common sense because if we didn’t there would be dire consequences. Residential Schools and slavery would still exist, women wouldn’t have the vote or even be considered a person, Tobacco would be considered a medicine, ect. Questioning common sense ideas of what a “good” student is, is important for student success as a whole, thus future success of our society. Educators need to broaden their view of what a “good” student looks like so they can adjust their teaching methods to help all students succeed and avoid oppression.
Below are some examples of what questioning commonsensical ideas of what a “good” student can look like.
Kumashiro, Kevin. “Preparing Teachers For Crisis: A Sample Lesson.” Against Common Sense. Routledge: London, 2009. 19-33. online