“My kids seem to have no common sense. What do I do?”
Before we consider whether common sense is something that can be acquired through exercise or practice, a curious reader may well ask, “But how do we know if we (or our children or students) have enough common sense?” How much is enough? Was I born to struggle with issues that require common sense? Is my lack of common sense just the result of my genetic coding? And why is problem solving hampered by the absence of common sense? Can’t I find a way to become good at problem solving without growing my common sense?
These questions introduce complex topics that promise to weigh down the most athletic mind. It’s easy (and extremely informative) to get caught up in the theories and debates that psychologists and educators invest themselves in. My experience, however, is that most parents and teachers need practical solutions that will make learning easier for the children, and not a bunch of theoretical textbook quotations. So here, we will rather focus on the practical issues, and how to overcome real-life hurdles that keep students from succeeding. Parents and teachers may find they identify a little better with their children and students if they first challenge themselves to a fun, common sense test (an example is found at http://www.kathimitchell.com/commons.htm). The score doesn’t matter nearly as much as the insight this test will offer us into recognizing why common sense is so very important in the problem solving process.