It is strange to hear students complaining of boredom in their science class. What really students want? What do they look forward to? I think its freedom; Freedom to explore and do what they like to do. Science to me is all about exploring with your free mind. The entire space is open to gaze and search for meaning. Why restrict students to the four walls? What makes us hold them to few pages of a textbook; perhaps this is what makes them feel bored. Genius hour is a student-centered approach to engaging students in a way they enjoy and learn.
What is Genius Hour?
Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. Let say every Friday in my science class we form group of students with similar interests and allow them to make or do a project they wish. Out of 5 science periods or sessions we dedicate 1 period or session to Genius Hour. The amount of time dedicated to GH may vary but roughly it comes to 20%. And there is a reason why it comes to 20% when we know it’s origin. It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour.
Genius Hour Origins
The search-engine giant, Google, allows its engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any pet project that they want. The idea is very simple. Allow people to work on
something that interests them, and productivity will go up. Google’s policy has worked so well that it has been said that 50% of Google’s projects have been created during this creative time period. Ever heard of Gmail or Google News? These projects are creations by passionate developers that blossomed from their 20-time projects.
Genius Hour in Education
The same genius hour principles apply in the classroom as they do in the corporate environment. The teacher provides a set amount of time for the students to work on their passion projects. Students are then challenged to explore something to do a project over that they want to learn about. They spend several weeks researching the topic before they start creating a product that will be shared with the class/school/world. Deadlines are limited and creativity is encouraged. Throughout the process, the teacher facilitates the student projects to ensure that they are on task.
In our next post, we will see how to implement Genius Hour in your classroom. Till then you may wish to read a book about Genius Hour and 20% Time in education by A.J. Juliani.
About the author:
Sahil Sayed is an Educator, Teacher, and Learner. An engineer who understood science and mathematics little better after teaching primary grades for almost 4 years now. Currently heading Science, Mathematics and ICT department at Red Camel International School, India.