I've long been into the “Science of Genius,” as Scientific American coined it. Since before I can remember, it seemed obvious to me that we all posses the potential for genius. Maybe my faith grew from the urban legend that we are only using 10% of our brains. Seemed logical enough to me that people like Einstein weren't more intelligence than the rest of us. They just cracked the code on how to use more of their brains.
And it also seems logical to me that since we are facing SO many issues in our society today, cracking the code is becoming essential to a more peaceful existence. If we had a planet full of Einsteins, maybe we could make some real improvements in our lives.
Seem naive? I think it's getting the heart of the matter. And 'simple' seems to work when it comes to genius. This is something I think about a lot, part of why I love my job as a teacher.
And I'm not alone. Scientific America dedicated a whole issue to uncovering our inner Genius in 2015. They did a great job laying out some real facts and figures from Scientist and Professors on the case. So we now have more than urban legends to inspire us. I love this issue cover to cover and wanted to share some of the finer points...
“The idea that IQ tests do no measure all the key human faculties is not new. Critics of intelligence tests have been making that point for years.” - Keith F. Stanovich - This gives hope to people who don't test well, or do well in traditional school settings. There are many different types of intelligence and we are in fact very primitive, at that moment, in our efforts to measure them. When we have a more comprehensive view of intelligence, then perhaps students' nature abilities would be recognized earlier and developed fully. And older students could let go of low self-esteem based on an archaic testing.
“We are used to thinking of intelligence as largely genetic inheritance but that is not the whole picture. What we do affects our mental well being: staying physically and mentally active helps us to stay sharp as we age.” - Christopher Hertzog, Arthur F. Kramer, Robert S. Wilson, and Ulman Lindenberger. As a musician and music teacher, I know the value playing music has in keeping the brain sharp. I also know that in order to play my best, I've had to incorporate the right kind of lifestyle for my optimal energy and mental clarity. This means a disciplined diet and exercise/stretching routines. It's such a shame that in our society, as people age, their wisdom is obscured by poor health. Their precious wisdom and other contributions are much needed. Personally, I've seen a huge difference in health and mental capacity as people hit their 60's and above. Working to keep our mental faculties optimal is a goal we should all keep until the day we die.
“Abilities matter for achievement, but expertise in any domain requires a lot (about 10,000 hours) of hard work. Recent data suggest that many gifted children are not receiving guidance and instruction they need to fulfill their potential.” - Rena F. Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, and Frank. C. Worrell - I certainly did not receive this type of mentorship, something I strive to do with my students today. I remember quitting piano when I was 10 because I had heard stories of Mozart. I made a poor comparison, as my attempts at composing seemed null compared to the ones he did at my same age (10). I was no where close, so I figured I'm not a genius and I should just give up. It was an either or thing in my mind, you either had it or you didnt. I didn't comprehend the growth mindset; that it's baby steps. I could learn to do all the things he did - with hard work and effort. My ability to learn music would grow exponentially as I progressed, so what seemed impossible would become probable - if I worked hard enough and never gave up. The most successful students I have are the ones who grasp this concept and enjoy the process. They don't expect themselves to be perfect right off the bat and they are not in the habit of comparison. Mozart's father had him practicing and performing an insane number of hours from such a young age. Natural talent developed by hard work created his genius.
Ultimately, finding your own inner genius is altruistic; it truly benefits the society at large to contribute in your best way possible. It's like the Enya Song Caribbean Blue... “If everyman does all he can, if everyman is true, do I believe the sky above is Caribbean Blue.”
The fact that Scientific America had this issue last year makes me feel optimistic. If we all believed in our own genius and worked hard at uncovering it, no matter our age, I believe we will see bluer skies ahead.
Reference: Scientific American, MIND, Your Inner Genius, March 23, 2015, http://com-sub.info/Scientific-American-Mind/Welcome