We typically think of genius as referring to people who are deemed by society as highly intelligent. They are set apart from the rest of us "normal" people. This understanding is based on the premise that intelligence can be accurately measured on a linear scale and that we can all be ranked by our relative intelligence.
This ranking forms us all into a bell curve. Those who are creative geniuses sit in the right foot of the bell curve. Those who are intellectually impaired, sit in the left foot. The rest of us from the middle of the bell curve – the normal ones.
The underlying premise of this understanding of intelligence is that we are to follow those who are smarter than us. Further, we have the right to manage those who are less intelligent than us. But this understanding of intelligence and genius, with all of the implicit social implications, is a fairly recent concept. It only appeared near the dawn of the industrial age. The concept was originally developed by an Englishman, Sir Francis Galton who applied Carl Gauss' statistical model of normal distribution to intelligence.
Galton, as the founder of Eugenics, went on to argue that intelligence was inherited. For the last 150 years, his model of intelligence has been embraced by many as truth – both the explicit belief in intelligence ranking and the implicit belief in genetic inheritance. With profound implications for how social and geopolitical power was rationalized during the colonial era and beyond. With profound implications for how we educate.
But genius has not always been thought of in this way. In fact, the word "genius" is Latin and originally meant the "attendant spirit present from one's birth, innate ability or inclination". Until relatively recently then, genius was considered inherent in all of us. We are, by nature of our unique journey as human beings, possessing our own human spirit with a potential for creative genius. Genius that is multi-dimensional. Genius that is life-giving.
The reclaiming of the original definition of genius is at the core of reimagining education. We seek to unleash the creative genius in each student to empower their greatness, guided by Creative Curiosity. This uncompromising conviction lies at the core of the conviction to bring learning Fully Alive. The truth of this conviction has already been demonstrated innumerable times as we courageously live into our Authentic Self.
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