Saturday, July 3, 2010

Not so common sense

Have you ever noticed that common sense is not so common?  It seems to be missing from the hallowed halls of academia.  It is nowhere to be found in the marbled galleries of our public servants.  It is absent in the luxurious enclaves of the corporate giants.  Common sense seems to only thrive in the domain of the humble, the independent, the "simple".

Common sense thrives in simple country folk.  It has to.  Country people don't have the luxury of running to the store for parts when the baler goes down and it looks like rain.  They have to find the quickest route between point A and point B.  Typically the quickest route is the simplest route.  The more complicated, the more time it will take and the more money it will require.  Simple is best.  Common sense.

Contrast that with your typical Washington bureaucrat.  Faced with a broken baler and imminent rain, they would form a committee, commission a study and question the EPA about potential ill effects to the environment fixing the baler would cause.  Foolishness.  They try to get from A to B by driving to S, P, Z and F.  No common sense.

Recently, I read an article in our local paper about the fact that the high school drop-out rate in our area was about 29%.  People were earnestly seeking signatures of concerned citizens so that the powers that be would realize there was a problem and funnel more money to public education.  Today, I read two letters to the editor that addressed this drop-out rate and different thoughts on how to deal with them.  I was struck by the disparity of opinion.

The first letter was simple and to the point.
"If a high school diploma or a GED were required to get a permanent driver's license, the dropout problem would evaporate......As a retired university professor who witnessed a steady decline in student attitude and performance, I long for simple solutions.  We need clear-cut rewards and goals that register with students and actually work."

The second letter had a much more convoluted answer to the dilemma.
"The first option is service learning, connecting service in the community with academic skills.  Youth change from being regarded as consumers of crisis-management resources to community assets civically and academically engaged.  The second approach is that by infusing curriculum with art, music and philosophy (i.e., the humanities), students gain confidence in their ability to learn, and "to see the world and themselves differently in the (ancient) Greek sense of reflective thinking, of autonomy."

The simple solution would work.  The solutions offered in the second letter would cost time, money and ultimately be ineffective.  Common sense would dictate that a solution to any problem would be quick, cost effective and most importantly, produce the desired results.  Foolishness, on the other hand, would place more value on the steps taken to achieve the goal rather than any discernible results.

Common sense is simple, but it is not so common.


  1. My 92 year old father and I often talked about the lack of common sense. When you think about it, not everyone has a sense of direction and some people don't have a sense of humor. I guess, we could then surmise, that not everone will have common sense. I also keep saying that, as a society, we are 'dumbing-down'. Scary isn't it?

  2. Welcome to the world of public education, where the means are always more important than the end result.

    I pray daily that I will somehow be able to infuse my children with common sense, because I see so many people around me without any.


  3. How can we have common sense in our society or world for that matter, when people are fed mass media as truth. Has anyone considered the drop out rate being so high may be due to the fact that most teachers do not care about teaching the truth nor do they care about the kids. Home school, and I bet the drop out rate would practically diminish.

  4. Enola Gay, you hit the nail on the head. Common sense is a rare commodity in the world today. And it's almost completely lacking in politicians. As our children learn less and less at school, as our citizens become more and more dependent on government programs, as our senior citizens make more sacrifices in order to provide "free" health care, our politicians are vacationing all over the world this weekend under the guise of "research." And this being Independence Day weekend, no less. It's disgusting. Come November, I hope Americans remember how the politicians have been treating us like pawns in their game of chess.

    Happy Independence Day. Pray for our troops and our country.

    NoCal Gal

  5. One word: Amen! Common sense should be a prerequisite before being able to run for any type of public/ political office