Friday, August 31, 2012

What is Genius?

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?

1 comment:

Richard said...

Genius is related to ingenuity. The real genius is the one who comes up with solutions to problems. The bigger the problems, the greater the genius required. One of my professors said the greatest geniuses are the ones who have the widest range (engaged in the widest range of subject matter) of knowledge, and I might add, finds solutions to the widest range of problems.