B.A. in Common Sense

“Common sense can be uncommon.”–Art Baird

Every parent knows with certainty their kid is smart.  As Montaigne said, “Everyman has within himself the entire human condition.”  Yet, what does smart mean?  How smart is smart? Is our current generation of budding adults–actually legally an adult–but mere months away from teenager-dome, lacking common sense?  Have we, as a society, prized intellectual pursuits and academic acumen over day-to-day taking care of one’s basic needs?

Putting aside the tiger mom debates, why do more parents share that their recently high school graduated 4.0+GPA, entered college with sophomore status given the number of AP & IB credits earned, 2000+SAT scores and acceptances into colleges with less than 20% admit rates, are texting their parents from multiple states away that they need toothpaste or ran out of printer paper?  Similarly, why is a college junior in a highly selective college in Southern California, calling her mother in Northern California to tell her she’s hungry?  It’s a head scratcher–clearly, these young adults aren’t incapable of finding the nearest Wal Mart or the cafeteria.  And, many seniors tell us that they’re going to college to be more independent?  Is gaining common sense what they mean?

Some colleges– Southern Methodist University–are requiring students to attend classes on budgeting, time management, balancing a check book–life skills–to graduate.  Others offer “transition classes” and seminars to help students balance these issues.  Residence life staff often provide this mentoring in a more one-on-one connection.  (I remember as a Resident Adviser, teaching several first year residents how to use the laundry machines.)   Yet, the fact that research and liberal arts colleges are feeling the need not only to teach but REQUIRE for graduation these “life skills” courses, has common sense become so uncommon that we have to wait until college to get some and then only in a classroom?


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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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