I’m Getting It!

I’m starting to get what Sir Ken Robinson in The Element is talking about regarding intelligence and creativity. But it’s not easy!

People are intelligent in many different ways — not just verbal and mathematical reasoning, which are the prime targets in “intelligence” measurements (and peoples’ opinions about what constitutes intelligence).

I liked Robinson’s explanation of the three features of human intelligence on pages 46-51 and then again when describing creative teams on pages 125-126.

Diverse – Sir Ken Robinson points out that there is extraordinary diversity in the kinds of intelligence that people have, besides words and numbers, intelligence can be musical, kinesthetic, rhythmic, visual, interpersonal, mechanical, etc., etc.

Dynamic – Intelligence is also dynamic. We are not only good at one thing, but our dynamic brain is always interacting and forming connections and analogies. For instance, Albert Einstein often sat up late playing his violin while he thought deeply, the music helping him work out his complex problems.

Distinctive – We are uniquely intelligent, according to Robinson, “Every person’s intelligence is as unique as a fingerprint.” Each of us has an intelligence profile, a combination of some dormant and some dominant intelligences.

As I’ve been reading the first five chapters of this transformative book, I am starting to get it. I think I really can ask my students to propose their own idea for genius hour — not some version of my own.

Up until now, I have been hesitating. I think genius hour should be about research, reading, and writing. I thrive on reading and writing. For pity sake, this is the fifth blog post in four days. I need to write! It helps me learn, but I realize I have expected my students to have the same intelligences as me.

Last week, when a student asked about doing genius hour on something related to physical education, I said no, that he couldn’t just have more P.E. class for genius hour. (I’m sorry, J.)

I think Sir Ken Robinson would have slapped me upside the head if he had heard me. Why did I say that? Because I didn’t value physical intelligence. But now I do, so yes, you can do a P.E.-style genius hour. (I think! Do I dare?) What will it look like?

Genius hour friends, help me! Can I really let them learn anything? Do I really mean it when I say genius hour is for being creative and productive and learning what you choose? Friends, how do you handle choice?

Thank goodness #geniushour chat is coming up! Wednesday, December 5, at 9:00 p.m. EST. I need it!  The first half hour we’ll help each other figure out how to bring genius hour into the classroom. For the second half hour, we’ll discuss chapters 1-5 of Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element.

Confession: I figured my eighth graders needed another role model besides their “No-you-can’t-develop-your-physical-intelligence teacher, so I started reading The Element to them today. So, you see, I need my PLN to continue to inspire me with genius hour.

Join us Wednesday for the best chat around! I can’t wait!

4 thoughts on “I’m Getting It!

  1. What?!? No comments yet?!? Well… Let me be the first to say… YES! Let him do it.

    Denise, as I read Sir Ken Robinson’s book (THANK YOU for suggesting this for #geniushour!), I think of a question I was asked at the beginning of the year when we were hearing a lecture on teacher evaluations… “Who was your favorite teacher, and why was s/he your favorite?” Think on it for a moment…

    The ideas that followed… Those teachers were our favorites because they were caring. CARING. Or fair. Or funny. Did we remember any content from that year or that class? Nope. What do you want your students to remember in 10… 20 years? This year, my goals consist of helping students be more empathetic, and to be life-long learners. What do you want?

    My vote – let him do it. When he’s started it, ask him to tell you what he expects he’ll learn. When he’s finished, ask him what he DID learn. C’mon – go for it! It’s his middle school years… Life is tough enough for him as it is! Good luck, and enjoy his journey.


  2. Joy,
    How fun! Thanks for the vote of confidence for J! I’m sure he will be excited to hear. I love your reasoning. I need to keep those things in mind!

    I agree about the best teachers in my life. They were all those things you said–fun, funny, caring, loving. I want my students to be lifelong learners and make the world a better place.

    By the way, it was Hugh (@HughtheTeacher) who had the awesome suggestion for The Element chat tomorrow. I’m excited!


  3. Denise,
    I have had the pleasure of being in Sir Ken’s company at a small conference here in Hawaii. I could have sat and listened to him all day. What makes him so real is the fact that he observes the minutia of life. He doesn’t only see the big picture he sees that dust mote floating down that no one else sees and he notes it’s importance in the overall scheme of things.
    Things that I have released are: earbuds are ok in the classroom while working, if you want to sit outside and work do it, collaborate with those of your own choosing, select your own topics of study, teach us how to use that new app you’ve downloaded, and be prepared to ask questions. I am popular with my kids, their parents, and the assistant head of school but not with most of my fellow teachers.
    It boils down to it being about and for the kids. It’s not about us and those lame teacher awards. I learned because of my own desire.
    Ok, time to get off the soapbox.
    Thanks for another great post and reminding me the kids come first.

  4. I love your soap box, JoAnn! Thanks for getting on it, right here for my benefit. I can see why “old-school” teachers would not go for some of the innovations you’ve introduced. I’m glad you are there to point to a new road, though.

    Thank you! You’ve given me some new things to consider releasing. Love it!


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