Posts Tagged ‘education’

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Can We Teach Common Sense?

There are some students who seem to make good decisions almost effortlessly.  They use their time well; they determine what things need attention and what items can be ignored; they form positive relationships with those who have a positive influence in return; they know how to stay out of trouble even when it’s on their doorstep.  We sometimes say that these students have good common sense.

Were these students born with common sense or were they taught how to make good decisions?  Ask two teachers and you might get differing answers.  Some teachers think students need specific instruction on decision making.  Others believe that a student either has it or they don’t. 

Let’s check out two definitions of common sense.

Miriam-Webster Online defines it as “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”

This definition doesn’t appear to lean in either direction. 

Encarta® World English Dictionary[North American Edition takes a different approach.  It defines common sense as “sound practical judgment derived from experience rather than study.” 

This definition comes from the perspective that common sense is taught.

Here are some of the questions I’ve pondered: 

-Is common sense intentionally taught or does one learn it by subconscious observation? 

-Is all common sense learned at home before children ever enter school? 

-Do students continue to learn common sense once they are in school?  If so, should we develop a curriculum?  Whose values would be taught?

-Can common sense be forgotten at some point (for example, in the teenage years)?

-If common sense isn’t learned, should students be penalized for not having it?

There are many more questions swirling around in my mind, and I’d love to know what questions you’ve thought of.  Feel free to comment below. Check back soon to participate in a simple survey on common sense.

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