Every child is a genius. That doesn’t mean that every child can paint like Picasso, compose like Mozart, or score 150 on an I.Q. test. But every child is a genius according to the original meanings of the word “genius,” which are: “to give birth” (related to the word genesis) and “to be zestful or joyous,” (related to the word genial). Essentially, the real meaning of genius is to “give birth to the joy” that is within each child. Every child is born with that capacity. Each child comes into life with a wide range of incredible qualities. Here are just twelve of them:
The Theoretical Basis of the Child’s Genius. One has simply to look at how the brain develops to get a sense of why the child possesses the brain of a genius. An infant has twice as many brain connections as an adult, and the young brain continues to build new brain connections as they grow. The young child masters a complex symbol system (their own native language) without any formal instructions.
Young children have brains that support vivid imaginations, creative minds, and sensitive personalities. These youthful traits are also highly valued from an evolutionary perspective: the more species evolve, the more they carry youthful traits into adulthood (a process called “neoteny” or “holding youth”). It is imperative that we, as educators and parents, help preserve these genius characteristics of children as they mature into adulthood, so those capacities can be made available to the broader culture at a time of incredible change.
Unfortunately, there are strong forces working at home, in the schools, and within the broader culture, to stifle these genius qualities in children. Many children grow up in homes which put an active damper on the qualities of genius. Factors in the home like poverty, depression and anxiety, pressure on kids to grow up too soon, and rigid ideologies based on hate and fear, actively subdue the qualities of genius in childhood such as playfulness, creativity, and wonder. Schools also put a damper on childhood genius through testing (creativity can’t thrive in an atmosphere of judgment), labeling of kids as learning disabled or ADHD, boring teachers, and regimented curriculum. Finally, the broader culture, especially mass media, represses the genius in our children through its constant onslaught of violence, mediocrity, overstimulation, and repugnant role models.
The good news is that there is much that a teacher or parent can do to help children reawaken their natural genius.
By following these simple guidelines for awakening each child’s natural genius, you will be contributing immensely to the welfare of your children and to the world they will inherit someday.
For further information about cultivating the genius of kids in school, see my books Awakening Genius in the Classroom, and If Einstein Ran the Schools: Revitalizing U.S. Education
This page was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.
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