Every month we publish two articles on “Shady Oak Best Practices,” our favorite approaches to education and why they work. If friends ask why you send your kids to Shady Oak instead of a “regular” school, refer them to this series—and the science backing us up—for starters.
“Genius Hour” is a common term for school periods where each student chooses a topic he or she wishes to learn more about—from bullying to X-rays—and is set free to research that topic and design a related project. (The concept exists in the corporate world as well, the best-known example being Google’s policy of allowing employees to spend up to 20 percent of their work hours developing original ideas.) Genius Hour is more structured than the traditional “free period,” requiring focus on specific topics, parameters, and ends. A student whose preferred topic is “pets,” for instance, might create a campaign to spread awareness of affordable vet care.
Often, Shady Oak expands Genius Hours into Genius Afternoons. You could also plan a Genius Morning, Genius Wednesday, or Genius Week. Whatever time slot you prefer, the benefits include:
If Genius Hour is new to your school, here are a few hints for helping it run smoothly:
At Shady Oak, we emphasize Genius Hour/Afternoon because it builds self-esteem, encourages kids to become their best selves, and generates ideas that benefit the larger community.
Science Backs Us Up! Further Resources on the Topic