During our kickoff, a few kids immediately had ideas. Most did not. Part of the challenge for kids in a Genius Hour setting is coming up with a good idea. In a classroom setting, the teacher normally tells the kids what they will be learning so kids are trained to be passive receivers of the assignments. For most, Genius Hour is the first time in their lives that they will be active learners who will drive the project ideas. This change will be frustrating and painful for most of the kids but they will be so much better off when they emerge on the other side. Genius Hour is amazing more for how we train the students to become lifelong learners than for the actual projects that are completed.
Many kids had "How..." questions. I just kept saying, "Trust in the process. We just go one step at a time." The program that Melissa and I designed and implemented is a deliberate process-oriented program that will help the kids develop one step at a time. Students will figure it out and take off at different times this year. That is awesome. The kids who are more confident in their learning will soar early while the kids who are more teacher-dependent will take longer to take flight. Because each student is a different learner, each student gets exactly what they need in order to become more independent.
Explaining all of this to the kids in addition to watching a couple of TED Talks (Ken Robinson's "Are Schools Killing Creativity" and Daniel Pink's "The Puzzle of Motivation") had kids' heads spinning. That is great! I want the kiddos to use their brains to make sense of what they saw and heard. I want them to unlearn many of the traditional school behaviors that have been ingrained in them and try something new. For many, this is a scary proposition but we learn the most when we're uncomfortable. These kiddos were uncomfortable!