BUFFALO — When asked to describe genius, Thomas Edison — who knew a little something about the subject — reportedly said it was “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
Edison certainly understood the role inspiration and perspiration played in producing what is known as genius, because he was inspired to create such things as the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical light bulb. He then put in the perspiration, that is the long hours of hard work, experimentation, research, and trial and error needed to make his ideas a reality. His success in doing so resulted in the world we now inhabit, a world of recorded music, movies, and electric lights and the utilities that generate the electricity they use along with the many other aspects of modern life that Edison’s combination of inspiration and perspiration known as genius made possible.
Given his understanding of genius, one suspects that Edison would be quite pleased with Genius Hour at Buffalo Elementary School which gives students the opportunity to take the inspiration they have received about a particular subject and then, relatively speaking, expend some perspiration in bringing their ideas to life.
In a statement released Wednesday, BES announced that it “is excited to share that its fourth grade students are participating in Genius Hour! Genius Hour is a teaching practice that has absolutely exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. It’s a program where the teacher sets aside a certain amount of time every week or every day for students to study and learn about whatever they desire to know. Ms. Annette Lyles and Mrs. Tammy Fisher work together to provide students with this great educational experience.“
The press release states that “students are allowed to create projects about the subject matter they are studying. The program is essentially an inquiry-based learning program in which students work on individual or group projects that reflect their passions! This is a fabulous way to encourage students to pursue their dreams and take their thinking to a much higher level!”
Edison would no doubt approve of this as he understood something about pursuing dreams and then going to the next, higher step of transforming thought into reality. His approval would no doubt increase when he learned the origins of Genius Hour, origins that lie with the policies of one of the most successful businesses of our era, a business that has and continues, in its own way, to revolutionize the world just as Edison did in his time: Google.
According to the Genius Hour website (www.geniushour.com), “the search-engine giant, Google, allows it’s engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any pet project that they want. The idea is very simple. Allow people to work on something that interests them, and productivity will go up. Google’s policy has worked so well that it has been said that 50% of Google’s projects have been created during this creative time period. Ever heard of Gmail or Google News? These projects are creations by passionate developers that blossomed from their 20-time projects.”
The website states that “another origin of genius hour projects came from the book Drive by best-selling author, Daniel Pink. In a blog post he writes about how the Google-time projects are also used in other corporations.”
Each week, employees can take a Genius Hour — 60 minutes to work on new ideas or master new skills. They’ve used that precious sliver of autonomy well, coming up with a range of innovations including training tools for other branches.
Given all this, Genius Hour at Buffalo Elementary is an hour well-spent that can help young minds develop in ways that not only will improve their academic performance and their intellectual development but may also one day lead one or more of those young minds to revolutionize the world in ways that can only be imagined.
A little far-fetched, you say? Well, maybe, but then who would have thought a humble telegraph operator named Edison would revolutionize the world the way he did. So who knows, the next Edison may be taking part in Genius Hour at Buffalo Elementary and the next Google may have its origins in the time spent during that hour.
So, to all the young ladies and young gentlemen taking part in Genius Hour at Buffalo Elementary School and elsewhere, keep working hard and learning, keep taking advantage of Genius Hour to gain inspiration and start putting in the perspiration needed to make your ideas a reality. If, that process takes longer than you thought it would and you begin to feel you will never make it happen and you might as well give up, just remember what Edison said.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
Never give up on striving to bring together the ingredients of genius and using it to make the world a better place.