Watch Your Child’s Schedule for Genius Hour

A learner's Genius hour

Innovation is trending. Digital innovation has improved the quality of all spheres of life. Curiosity and passion culminate into innovation. Most of Google’s innovative products are a result of the concept ‘20% Time’. Google’s policy allows its employees to devote 20% of their working hours (one working day every week) on the projects of their interest. Exploring their interests allowed Google’s employees to create cult products including Gmail, Google News and AdSense. The concept of “Genius hour” is crucial to a child’s overall development and helping them in discovering their passion and potential.

The reason Google became a gold standard for innovations was the liberty given to employees to persuade their passion and explore their interests. I always wondered how can I create room for curiosity in my son’s mundane school life. But I didn’t want him to miss the little things, I wanted him to transfigure his experiences into skills and interests into a passion. As I observed him, he was ceasing to be an interesting person. My boy did what he was asked to do. I felt Zayn needed a system where student agency is developed.

Keeping this in mind, I approached an online school. I discussed my son’s profile with the technical and academic support team. They explained to me the whole process. I wanted to try this new avenue as it promoted self-directed learning and I was assured that it would provide my son with a deeply meaningful learning experience.  The support team was available at our beck and call and they addressed all our concerns. Slowly and gradually, Zayn’s learning regime was improving. He started seeking meaning in his activities. His online teachers made learning coherent even when he seemed reticent.

Not only this, one of the support staff members introduced me to AJ Juliani’s work, his book on Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom: 20% Time, Genius Hour and PBL to Drive Student Success. Zayn’s online academic instructors helped me in accommodating Genius Hour in Zayn’s schedule. He got engaged in purpose-driven research. He was not going after grades. He wanted to explore Augmented Reality apart from the regular coursework. Completing high school online, gave Zayn the freedom to create his own project wherein he created a 3D model to understand the functioning of the human brain.

Online instructors focus on supporting students with learning rather than worrying about jumping ‘hoops’ of regulations, policies and procedures to inculcate Inquiry-based learning or Genius Hour. Fruitful learning outcomes which require sustained engagement and collaboration are the trademarks of online learning. I need not worry about Zayn’s future as he can create one himself.

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