The following are notes and quotes after reading Chapter 2 and 3 from Kevin Kumashiros book Against Common Sense (2004).
‘Learning should be about learning more! It should expand our minds and build a framework to continue life long learning. It should increase our understandings and broaden our world views'(p. 24). Every individual learns differently, therefore everyone will interpret and use new information in different ways as well depending on what “…filters or backdrops or lenses for what they experience, process, make sense of, act on, and otherwise learn in school”(p. 26). “What and how students learn is influenced by a desire to relearn only certain things, especially only certain ways of making sense of the world, as well as by a resistance to learning other things, especially things that reveal the problematic nature of prior knowledge”(p. 26)
Resist to Learn
“Desire and resistances are central to the process of learning… they become part of the very things that students study. Students’ desires for and resistances to learning need to become part of what they are learning” (p. 26)
“Perhaps more important, challenging oppression requires more than raising awareness about more progressive perspectives on the world. The reason we fail to do more to challenge oppression is not merely that we do not know enough about oppression, but also that we often do now want to know more about oppression.” We cannot resist learning new and difficult elements that impact our students outside of the classroom.
This reminds me of a personal story. I was working with a teacher who was struggling to reach one particular student. Now this teacher did really care and sought me out to try and make a difference in this learners success. It was what they said in passing that has never left me. I was explaining why this particular student shows up late, is often defiant and always tired. This student was raising their four siblings, working 40 hours a week and had been abused for a decade. The teacher remarked, “I don’t want to know about this. It is too hurtful, just please tell me what I can do to make them attend and work harder in class.”
We must dive into the things that scare or intimidate us if we are to really appeal to all students. Doing nothing and saying nothing is not an option. After discussion with the teacher they too understood that ignorance is not bliss. To help a struggling student we must work to identify their needs and where they come from. Now this teacher friend of mine quickly understood what they had said and we continued working together- but it makes you think.
Take the time to know your kids, now I understand we can’t know everything about every student and some things we will not know- but teachers will be best served teaching individuals. Learning should be messy, challenging and exciting. “Learning involves looking beyond what students already know, what teachers already know, and what we both are only now coming to know, not by rejecting such knowledge, but by treating it paradoxically, that is by learning what matters in society (and how it informs my identity, relationships, and actions), while asking why it matters (and how it can reinforce and challenge an oppressive status quo. Such a process cannot help but to be uncomfortable“(p. 32).