Our district mission statement centers around our calling to “ignite genius and empower students to advance the world.” That’s a pretty tall order!
Especially when, as Seth Godin explains (“The Long Term” podcast), students typically spend 90-95% of their school day on either doing what they’re told, aka compliance, or finding the right answer, also compliance!
If only 5-10% of the day is open for a student to think bigger thoughts, then how in the world can we ever expect students to find their genius?
Looking for the right answer? It’s easy. You can’t.
If we truly want students to find their genius, then we need to provide the opportunities for them to dig in to complex problems. Complex problems does not mean a calculus problem, or balancing scientific equations. What I’m talking about here are complex LIFE problems. Problems that, quite honestly, don’t have answers. Things like:
- Overpopulation and resource scarcity (Although, if you watched the last Avengers movie, this problem does have a potential solution… No Spoilers allowed!)
- Economic development of the global poor
- Nuclear security
When we allow students time, resources, and freedom to explore complex problems like these, and even more so, when we let them explore the world of no resolutely right answer, we are building their capacity for original thought. We are building their capacity for grit. We are building their capacity for learning from failure.
And in doing so, we are building their capacity to ignite their own genius.