For as long as I can remember, I had always been told growing up that it is important to love what you do. My father worked on the assembly line at General Motors my entire life, often working the dreaded second-shift just to put food on the table. My dad just went through the motions in his job, and did not enjoy it. He never complained, but asked that I find something I really loved to do, no matter the pay and really work my hardest. Sometimes when I hear others constantly complain about their jobs, I feel bad for them and wonder where their passion really lies. It’s easy for me because each day for me is new and brings challenges that keep me interested and learning.
Are we raising box checkers?
You know the box checkers, the students that are always looking to be prepared for the next state text, class assessment, or grade level. They know exactly what it takes to meet each task and pass with flying colors, but they never truly look inside themselves to figure out what they are personally passionate about. Have we done this to them? I feel that these students have gotten really good at giving us everything we ask for and want, but what about what they want? We force-feed them curriculum, and pretend to give them choice (as long as it is one of three options) we have chosen. They meet with counselors in middle and high school who help determine a curriculum and career path that is best for them, co-determined by the school.
How can we change this trajectory?
Genius Hour, when implemented correctly, has the power to change all of that. Students are allowed to choose their own project and learning outcomes. Bonus! They will still address the standards and skills for their respective grade levels. Most of the time, they go beyond the standards and dive deeper into their subject matter than most pacing guides would allow.
Where does Genius Hour come from?
Google first utilized the 20% time as a way for employees are allowed 20% of their time to explore formulate new ideas about something other than their regular work. Research based on these principles has show favorable results and increased productivity. Now that success has translated to the world of education through Genius Hour or 20%Time.
What can this do for you?
Most of society’s biggest issues can quite possibly be solved by allowing students a purpose for learning and a place to explore their passions. If you think about it, students spend so much time in school preparing for their futures, if we don’t allow them the time for choice, what are we really doing with this time?