The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Discussion Group

Debate 4 Can you teach common sense?

I have raided the list of Discussion Group questions and brought 3 of them into the list of Potential Debates.
Certain questions offer 2 sides of an argument and a vote is useful and hopefully interesting.

In the last Debate participants mentioned the importance of applying common sense.

So Debate 4 is: Can you teach common sense?

As before, please submit an initial vote: Yes, No or Undecided

Please submit a sentence or two as to why you are voting that way. I will lift your views into my website on a no-names basis.

You can comment at any stage up until Friday after which I will add a review of the week.


Debate 4 Can you teach common sense?



1. No - I don't believe you can.

You can show people and teach but common sense is built into us, as is a sense of danger in some of us but not all.

2. Undecided - Hopefully parents can teach common sense to children but parents need to have it first.

3. Maybe - As some grow older and more experienced they may learn a different way of thinking. Not to be so fixed in their minds

4. Yes - Common sense can be talk by example. Children learn by what you do.

5. Debatable. I go straight to the heart of things. Other people make things more complicated. Got it from Mum. She was down to earth and went through a lot.

6. Don't Know. Tricky question. Guess people are born with it. I try to use logic.
At the moment people are not using common sense, e.g. panic-buying and police over-stepping their powers. Could be people are not listening because of all the scare stories in the media.

7. Yes - You can teach logical thinking.It is naturally inbuilt as part of being a human being.
A lot can be taught so a lot depends on what you learn at school. As you grow up you adapt, to enable you to put things together

8. Yes - over the years we acquire and learn common sense from relatives & friends and in the workplace& life experiences. So by definition we could be taught common sense.

We have to be careful in assuming that people aren't using common sense in a given situatiuon.
Someone said: Common Sense is Common Knowledge and sometimes people do not have the knowledge or experience in some situations.

We can also confuse common sense when someone is unwilling to listen or accept another point of view when taking the opposite action to the one we want them to take!

I guess this brings in other skills of active listening, assimilation and using judgement.

9. Yes - You can teach common sense and people can be trained to learn and acquire it.

It is a skill or gift that can be cultivated like any other talent through practice and coaching.

Common sense can be coached by parents and mentors in the workplace. It is a question of investing time with people particularly when they are in their formative years and teaching them a strategy on how to approach most of life's situations.

I would have conversations with my children and enquire what they are hoping to achieve even in simple tasks when they were young and ask them if they have drawn up a list of the pros and cons and whether the advantages are likely to outweigh the disadvantages, what the consequences are for themselves and others of taking this course of action and what obstacles they need to plan to overcome.

Is there an alternative superior way of securing the same outcome?

If things don't go according to plan do they have a plan B? Gradually they approach life with a thoughtful analytical process or mindset that they apply and have an informal "post mortem" as to why it was a failure or a success and what lessons they have learned. I genuinely believe that this is something that can be coached.

10. Yes. Common sense can be taught, but like all information taught to others, the learner has to be interested enough to listen, absorb the information, understand it and apply it in real life. It needs to be taught when children are young.

The subject has such a vast curriculum, few parents have the time or inclination to take on what they may see as an unnecessary addition to the help they already give to get their children, to get them through official examinations, which already overload pupils with unwelcome stress.

Missing the need to ‘practically’ hammer home the importance of common sense at an early age could lead to misery in later life.

To use a simple example, if a child spends his '£6. 60 per week' pocket money (currently the average) in the first two days they will not be happy for the remaining five. The parent could ignore the issue and allow the child to repeat their mistake every week, or use it to demonstrate the importance of ‘budgeting’, a skill that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Looking at the world now, my first subject on the ‘Common Sense’ curriculum would be ‘Respect for Others’, the first instruction being, “Every time you want to do something, ask yourself ‘How will that impact on other people around me, or the environment?’” Then, thirty years later, some innocent neighbour may be spared the inhalation of their barbecue and bonfire fumes, the noise of their booming music system or their barking dog, to name just a few.

That's common sense!

Review of Week

Thank you for your feedback. Really good.

The pre-debate vote with 4 Undecided was very interesting and a normal post-debate vote might have seen some people changing their vote.

Someone outside the Group said that common sense grows on you as you grow older. This view was echoed in a number of the contributions submitted.

There is no doubt that common sense is acquired over the years (e.g. from parents, school and work) and some of the evidence submitted appears to prove that you learn from others, i.e. taught.

If you can be taught, there is the opportunity for people to be deliberately put in situations so that learning takes place. Similarly self-learning is possible so that people can proactively seek those learning opportunities. (Wouldn't it have been nice to know this earlier!)

All this pre-supposes that people are willing to learn, willing to listen and willing to make appropriate changes in their behaviour.

Colin Bower
7 April 2020

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