Every week at the beginning of Genius Hour, I show the kids two or three videos of amazing ideas. I call this little time slot "Creative Genius". It is a good time to show kids that people are out there thinking up simple, elegant solutions to everyday problems. First they see a problem, then they try to find a solution, testing each iteration of the solution along the way. Finally, they have a viable solution to the problem. This is what Genius Hour is all about. I want kids to access their talents and abilities to create, innovate and solve problems.
Often kids don't think they can make their mark on the world. After all, they're just kids. By showing them all of these ideas, I try to broaden their knowledge base and stretch their imagination. Maybe they hadn't thought of the Power Puff Lamp or Shoes that Grow, but they can think of many other solutions to problems. I want kids to aspire for more than they thought they could achieve. I want them to perceive themselves as inventors, creators, and innovators. They have to change the way they see themselves in order to be confident enough to take that leap. Thus far in school, most kids believe that they are the passive recipients of knowledge. We have to give kids the opportunity to try, fail and try again.
Over the past few years, I have seen kids gain confidence in themselves during their Genius Hour experience. Their perceptions change. They are no longer just students; they are also writers, techies, YouTubers, inventors, chefs, and builders. Kids realize that if they were able to dazzle with their Genius Hour project, they can do anything. This kind of learning is difficult, much more difficult than traditional school learning. Not only do kids have to complete the assignment, they also have to construct the assignment.
In a few weeks, we will conduct Pitch Day, a chance for kids to share their ideas and goals with others. I am incredibly excited to watch as kids take their first step toward independent learning. They will crash. They will fail. They will get frustrated. Doesn't that sound like the learning we do as adults? They will also try again. They will succeed. They will have those "A-ha!" moments. They will be so interested in the projects that they created because they are based on the kids' passions that they won't every quit. This is a long journey that we are on and we are only at the beginning.