I admit, I've been called a genius before.
I also admit this was by young-ish people who knew I controlled their grade. Or who were easily impressed by my mathematical abilities.
As much as I appreciate the compliment, I'm no genius. Not by official standards, anyway. I test well, but not that well. I have moments of cleverness, but too many of them strike me long after the needed moment. I do plenty of stupid things.
You know, I bet certified geniuses do stupid things sometimes, too.
And I bet to some students, I am a genius ... in a way that has nothing to do with MENSA.
So unofficially, what is genius?
It's not about passing tests (and I say that as an ace test-taker ... near meaningless in my opinion). It's not necessarily about book-smarts, though there's nothing wrong with having those. Traditionally, book-smarts is about regurgitating information, re-creating someone else's genius.
To me, a genius is someone whose ideas or works spark a feeling of newness, differentness, freshness in my mind. Sounds a lot like having creativity and imagination, and those may be part of it. But I'm not sure they're required, either.
I think that spark of newness explains why some students call me a genius. I may talk about mathematics (or anything else) in a way they haven't heard before. It sparks a new connection.
Under that definition, genius is relative. It depends on our own experiences, expectations, and priorities. No membership cards, no certifications ... just our own acknowledgement of each other.
I kind of like it better that way. Maybe I'm a genius to some of my students. Many of them have been geniuses to me.
Who are some unacknowledged geniuses in your life?