Misconceptions About Genius Hour

In the five years since doing the 20% Project in my class, I’ve connected with amazing educators doing the same type of inquiry-based learning, whether it be Genius Hour, 20% Time, or any other name.

It’s one of the most empowering types of learning that can happen in (or out) of the classroom, and the real kicker is that we tend to follow this “inquiry-based” learning path in many other areas/aspects of our life.

Yet, there are often times when I’ll speak to a group about Genius Hour, write a post, or have a conversation online with teachers or school leaders that have serious misconceptions about Genius Hour.

This is by no means an indictment, as we all (me included) have misconceptions about different types of learning, projects, and much more as we go throughout life. This post is just a short explainer on some of those misconceptions 🙂

I hope you enjoy it!

People often believe Genius Hour is a response to teacher-directed learning…


Some believe that Genius Hour is kicking back and letting the students do all the driving…


But it’s more like putting them in the driver’s seat while you are still in the car…


Many focus on the all the possible issues that might arise from giving students choice…


Or worry about how much time they’ll spend “policing” students who have time on their hands… 


Or think it’s time to “gamify” learning (it’s not)…


Genius Hour is definitely student-driven learning, but we can’t be backseat drivers during this experience…

And we can’t spend our time in the classroom judging what students are learning and making…


Instead, we are on this journey together. The student is the hero, and teacher is the guide…


Reflecting along the way on failures, successes, and lessons learned…


So that each student can navigate their own way, and create their own learning path, with us by their side…


And watch the entire class find their own path, own goals, and own failures and accomplishments along the way.

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That is what Genius Hour and 20% Time are all about.

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