“Genius is the source of purpose and the seed of destiny in each of us.”
– ‘The Genius Myth’, by Michael Meade
School is officially back in session this week, a time when millions of kids and young adults will jostle into chairs and ponder their future. Many will hope to learn something that affirms them in special ways; others will be skeptical that their presence in school will reward them in any significant way.
So much of their success in school hinges on their interactions with the educators that greet them at the door. Australian educator John Hattie, author of ‘Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn’, would have people believe that the qualities of a teacher’s smile reveal much about how the dice will roll for learners in their schooling efforts.
I think this is a very facile view, maybe offering a grain of truth but little else. What is far more likely is that learning success in classrooms reflects the degree to which educators relate to their students and offer unconditional affirmation of the innate genius that resides within each person.
When educators take the time to truly see and perceive their students in this way, they fill that relationship with light and spark ‘potentiation‘ that doesn’t come about any other way.
What will you see in your students this year?
As cultural anthropologist and author Michael Meade writes about in his outstanding book, ‘The Genius Myth’ (2016), “If each person has natural gifts and innate talents, then the true nature of education must involve the awakening, inviting, and blessing of the inner genius and unique life spirit of each young person.”
To Meade, who for at least three decades has worked with disenfranchised youth, the power of recognizing and nurturing this kind of omnipresent genius – and not the ‘genius’ that is marked out as possessing extraordinary gifts and talents – reaches the depths of the soul as nothing else can, and helps people of any age see their lives with destiny and purpose. For many, this gesture turns their lives around.
In the coming days, as you – educators – open your classroom doors and invite students in for a new learning year, the most important gesture you may make is in relating to your students in such ways that they feel the undeniable power and light of your recognition of their genius, in all its forms.