What is a Genius? We ask students this all the time. Their responses are very simple at first, but once they dig in, they come up with some profound ideas. What happens when parents have this conversation with their children? Most recently a proud mom, Anne Schreiber, shared, “We have many discussions on genius in our household – how to define it, how to find it, how to recognize it, how to live it. We discuss moral courage and personal integrity as a foundation to realize individual genius.”
Consequently, Anne’s daughter, Isabel, wrote an insightful essay that unpacks the nuances of this heavily loaded word “GENIUS.” Here are some of the excerpts from her piece:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” (Albert Einstein) How does one measure talent and intelligence? Some educators use the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as a measure in which an individual becomes defined by a number after taking a test.
Genius is not a person. Genius is not how well you can perform on a test or your ability to write a paper. Genius is something that is given a new definition every time it is used or performed for each and every individual that defines and then redefines the definition. Genius is not something you are taught in school or something you gain through education. Genius is inside us all – something that lives within you. Something that you create for yourself and is based upon yourself. Whether it is a groundbreaking neurosurgeon or a local artist whose paintings change your outlook on life, you can find genius everywhere.
A genius is someone who can create and thrive in life, based on their abilities but most of all their imagination. Therefore, everyone is a genius because everyone has an imagination. Our knowledge and self-worth have become purely based on numbers and on “how well” tasks are performed on tests. This is a silly measure to base such a large part of your identity upon. Test taking and memorization are skills, not ideas and thinking that will go on to change the world. If this world was solely made up of people who were talented in memorization and test-taking, or solely on people that we are taught are genius, not only would it be quite boring, but also many inventions and discoveries would never have been made.
Genius is not defined by how others see you. Genius is the ability to find perseverance when everyone has told you otherwise. Genius is realizing that we are all created with strengths and weaknesses and knowing that, still finding a way to thrive. Remember when you get stuck, you are probably a fish trying to climb up a tree and eventually it will be a race to swim across the ocean. Genius is all around you; it all depends on how far you let your imagination take you.
Parents Matter! Next time you get a chance, ask your children, what is a genius? Who knows, maybe they will be inspired to write an essay and contribute to the world.