7 Pros & Cons Of Teaching With Genius Hour

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7 Pros & Cons Of Teaching With Genius Hour

by TeachThought Staff

Genius hour is trending in education, and for good reason. It is an attempt to restore the personalization, creativity, and authenticity that has been designed out of many schools and classrooms in the modern testing era of ed reform.

We’ve offered a definition for genius hour in the past, and discussed the principles of genius hour before. Below we’ve listed 7 strengths and challenges of teaching with/through genius hour (we’ve used the simpler but slightly less accurate terms “pros” and “cons”).

7 Pros of Genius Hour

  1. Student-centered & open-ended
  2. Encourages students to design meaningful and authentic work
  3. Easily supports tech-centered and tech-limited classrooms
  4. Students are able to practice navigating “unfiltered” and non-academic content with a focus on inquiry and research
  5. Promotes learning beyond the classroom
  6. Can be successful for the student that struggles in traditional settings
  7. Students that “play” with ideas tend think laterally, critically, and creatively since they’re not seeking to play guess-what-the-teacher’s-thinking

7 Cons of Genius Hour

  1. Though genius hour seeks to be “passion-based” and curiosity-centered, in most public schools and formal learning environments it is still essentially a mandatory and compulsory model of learning. Students aren’t learning “because they want to,” but rather because they’re told to–they just have freedom in what they’re learning and how.
  2. Students accustomed to being told what to do, when, and how can feel uneasy without “assignments.”
  3. Learning resources necessary are “different”
  4. In genius hour, models (examples of what students can do/build/design/create) and connectivity (working with different people for different reasons) become paramount. Without them, this open approach to learning can do more harm than good.
  5. Teacher role and planning has “new rules” in genius hour; teachers must adjust their planning–and role–accordingly
  6. Grading requires rethinking, and parents and students must understand the idea and purpose and expectations of this new idea.
  7. Some students, whether from having their curiosity suppressed for years, a lack of confidence, or some other missing element, may feel anxiety in a genius hour setting. They also may not respond at all; while you’re expecting them to take this change and unleash their inner Picasso, Thomas Merton, or Steve Jobs, they may just sort of ‘sit there’, unwilling or unable to do anything without being told.

7 Pros & Cons Of Teaching With Genius Hour; image attribution flickr user denisekrebs