In the premier issue of SuperConsciousness Magazine titled Redefining Genius, we presented scientific evidence showing that the potential for genius does not reside in only a few special people, but is the birthright of every person, from any race or culture. Further, we provided authoritative perspectives from teachers and education experts to reinforce the concepts that our innate genius, imagination, and creativity is, indeed, developable in an inspired environment.
For Educating the Future, we contemplated how genius emerges in early childhood or during the early education years and asked the question: What are the conditions, both environmental and philosophical, that would nurture and allow a child’s true genius and creativity to surface and manifest in all its glory? We spoke with many passionate educators about their active involvement and persistence to help evolve the current educational models so that they best serve the needs of children now and in the future.
If we are born with innate genius, how does it manifest? And how do we recognize it in ourselves, let alone our children? Researcher, author and corporate trainer Marcus Buckingham says it’s easy: Examine the things that you love to do; not only those things that give you the greatest joy, but those activities that you become completely immersed in, losing track of space and time. The skills we employ during those times of sheer joy are our strengths, and everyone is born with them.
For educator Jenifer Fox, knowing her own strengths wasn’t enough. She recognized that educational programs placed a great deal of emphasis on remedying a child’s weaknesses and almost completely ignored nurturing the very strengths that a young person would employ while engaged in satisfying work or careers. While still Director of the Purnell School, she created the “Affinities Program,” which enabled troubled teenage girls to identify their strengths and mobilize their natural creativity towards a joyful and productive life. Fox recently evolved the program into a fully immersive DVD school-based experience called “Strong Planet” and speaks about the importance of introducing these concepts to teens through the technology of the times.
Best-selling author Daniel Pink points to the decades of research that clearly show reward-based systems, both in the schools and in the workplace, do not work: In fact, rewards cripple creativity and innovative thinking. Instead, Pink encourages intrinsic motivation, autonomy, purpose and mastery as the keys to building both educational systems and a value based life.
Our featured interview is with bestselling author Daniel Coyle, who spent several years traveling around the world to study and contemplate the training techniques of talent “hotbeds.” To his amazement, he found that all the different institutes of instruction utilized remarkably similar approaches to mastery. Coyle’s interview reinforces the understanding that extraordinary ability is accessible to everyone.
Harvard Professor Howard Gardner is the poster child for the advancement of our understanding of intelligence, and the publication of his work on multiple intelligences continues to be relevant and innovative. He has recently begun to assess the skills required for success in the future and in his interview, he discusses those skills and innate qualities.
One of the great champions for the arts and the importance of creativity in education is Sir Ken Robinson. His well-developed understanding and ideas about creativity form the basis for many progressive private schools springing up in reaction to public and private schools that no longer serve the educational needs of the emerging generations.
Of all the great pedagogues of the last 100 years, one of the most influential has been Paulo Freire. His concepts helped to shape progressive education around the world, especially in developing countries, but his mark is most poignant through his emphasis on ethics, selfresponsibility and freedom. He is truly a herald of those much-needed inner qualities of future citizens of the world.
Our explorations took us far beyond pedagogical theory and we discovered many teachers and schools who employ progressive teaching techniques that allow children to dig deep within themselves to experience and know their greatness. One of the most renowned is 5th grade teacher Rafe Esquith, who has been awarded multiple honors both in the US and abroad for his teaching excellence. He instills more than knowledge: values and a high level of behavioral maturity as well.
The Sudbury Schools have been challenging the status quo of an authoritarian figurehead at the head of the classroom for decades. Dr. Karriem Ali’s own personal experience in a gifted grade school program concurs: “You don’t need to be more knowledgeable to teach someone, and you surely don’t need to dominate them.”
Perhaps the education we want for our children now and those to come is the one we wished we had ourselves: one that nurtures our innate passion to create, to explore and to find joy in everything that we do. Blue School director Brad Choyt explains how their team of scholars and consultants is creating such a curriculum, and hope that their school becomes a working laboratory for the future of education.
It is our springtime wish that you find this issue edifying, inspiring and informative.