Beyond Genius Hour

With the growing popularity of Genius Hour, there might be a situation arising soon that few people have yet anticipated.

What if various teachers in a departmentalized school (most likely a middle or high school) ALL decided to do Genius Hour? What if several students had several teachers who all did Genius Hour? Would that student do self-directed learning in history on Monday, and self-directed learning in English on Tuesday, while doing it in biology and geometry on Thursday? This could become problematic, and it raises a number of questions. Would students pursue several different projects throughout one week, or pursue one throughout his or her classes? What if some students had four classes of Genius Hour per week, while other students had only one or two? Parents might be okay for a period of forgoing curriculum every week, but will they be okay with multiple times per week?

This is probably not happening this exact moment, but it will probably affect some schools very soon. The sooner that we as teachers can anticipate this problem and address it now, the better.

I would like to propose a solution. Atlassian, an Australian company, has its employees engage in what used to be called FedEx Days (now called ShipIt Days). On those days, employees can work on whatever they choose, as long as they deliver their product within one day (hence the idea of overnight performance). I believe that as more and more teachers adopt Genius Hour, some schools might want to consider “FedEx Days” (or “Delivery Days” to stay away from copyright infringement) where students can work on their own projects for an entire day every week. The possibilities for STEM are wide open because students will be able to think of a project, test it out, adjust accordingly, and create a new experiment within one day. In other words, students can hypothesize about what might work in a design, track the failures, and create a new project to refine it.

Although the popularity of Genius Hour might seem like a challenge or a road block, it is really an opportunity for some great work.


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