Genius hour days should be scrapped


Lillian Roberts

Snowy Storm The Genius Hour website showcases the upcoming dates for Genius Hour days. On Dec. 21 the fourth day was cancelled due to a school cancellation day because of the weather.

After having a test run of Genius Hour the previous year with high school students, the administration team decided to go through with making Genius Hour days a monthly occurrence to assist students with pursuing their passions.

With the three sessions that have been held so far, it has become apparent that Genius Hour has had more of a negative impact on the student body and school, and therefore it should be removed. 

Genius Hour started out as a moment that gave students time to pursue and research a topic they were passionate about and wanted to delve deeper into. One of the main reasons for Genius Hour was the creation of projects that gave students a meaning to do something. Genius Projects were meant to be a way for students to have their own personalized embodiment of success, whether that be through sports, academics, arts or something completely different. 

Another aspect Genius Hour tries to focus on is the connection between students and teachers. Students can read other project ideas at the AAHS Genius Hour website and give their own input to their peers. Teachers are also meant to help students with their ideas by giving input and expertise. 

“We really wanted to give time for you guys to do what you like and also for teachers to connect with students in a different way. Because, from coming in from Covid when you had to be at home to learn, you kind of lost that personal connection that teachers and students often have. So, we’re hoping it would kind of restore some of that too,” instructional coach Michael Baker.

Students have been led through three organized Genius Hour days where they came up with their projects and started to plan them out. Some students took the route of Baker and made fundraiser based projects while others took a different approach and planned out an idea that would interest them.

Although there is good reasoning behind Genius Hour, it hasn’t played out as well as first imagined. With the estimated 2000 students who attend the school, 1200 forms were filled out for projects. Meaning 800 students–or 40%-haven’t even finished the planning aspect of their project. There is a section of students who don’t participate in any of the activities for Genius Hour and end up wasting a full school day. It’s evident that Genius Hour has flaws in the set up, and it’s become more wasteful because of it. 

Word often gets around about when the next Genius Hour day will be. In November, it was a common conversational topic as some people were confused about the clash of the November Genius Hour day and the Turkey Bowl. Some teachers were open about the December Genius Hour day being on the 22, and the website has even confirmed so under the ‘Genius Days’ tab. With the availability of knowing when upcoming Genius Hour days are, it has become easy for students who don’t partake in these days to plan on when to skip school. Students who plan on skipping every Genius Hour day could miss up to nine days alone. An increase in students skipping school will not only destroy their individual records, but also the school’s attendance as a whole. 

Genius Hour days are set up to have different activities during each period. Some periods are based on research or project planning, while others have students use SmartFutures for future career planning and skill based learning. The organization of Genius Hour days can be wasteful and unnecessary as it doesn’t always help the student body. Having an exact time slot for doing one particular activity can be harmful if a student’s project can’t adapt to the structure being used. Some people may even become more disorganized because of the days being too structured, and they end up getting nothing done because of this. The tasks for Smart Futures also take up a noticeable portion of the time on Genius Hour days. Most days, at least two periods are taken up by the Smart Futures activities. Although Smart Futures could be helpful for some, it won’t be beneficial for all, and it takes more time away from students to focus on their projects. 

Genius Hour can also be wasteful for students who don’t participate in the activities for the day. Although students should be partaking in Genius Hour, there are some who choose to not do the activities. Although Genius Hour can help students come up with great ideas, not everyone will want to go through with their projects and end up wasting their time by doing nothing all day. Instead of making the day devoted to these Genius Hour activities, students should be allowed to redirect their time into something purposeful. Some students have already begun focusing on their schoolwork throughout the day instead of sticking to the schedule, so it could be beneficial to let students decide how they want to use their time instead.

Some people have also made the argument that Genius Hour projects aren’t useful because of senior projects. Almost all seniors are able to pick any topic to base their projects with an exception being seniors who take AP English Literature. Although Genius Hour projects are for all grade levels, they are useless if every person is going to create a senior project eventually. 

Lots of teachers are on a tight schedule to prepare their students for upcoming tests, Keystones or AP exams, and the time Genius Hour takes up can cause disruption in the teachers plans. Some teachers are frustrated with the time Genius Hour is taking away from their lessons. Although teachers are informed of when Genius Hour days are taking place, some are still upset due to needing to teach a specific curriculum. Teachers often have a rough schedule of their year in mind, and Genius Hour can set these plans back further than teachers want. Re-working lesson plans and scheduling around these days could be frustrating. 

Students still travel to their normal class period during these Genius Hour days. The students are told to converse with their teachers about their projects, but it’s unlikely that every student will be able to meet with their teacher and get useful feedback. Some teachers are seeing over 100 students a day, so it can be difficult for some of them to understand every project.

Many have argued that Genius Hour produces good projects that help the student body and the community. There have been helpful fundraisers that came from these projects, but the issue is how rare it is to see a fully fledged out project. Not everyone is devoting their time to these projects, and they end up wasting the day. It would be better for students who actually care about their projects to be set up with the resources they need, while other students can work on something else during the school day. A whole day is being wasted every month if only some students are working on their projects while others aren’t. 

Genius Hour isn’t a good use of students’ time and should be scrapped as an idea all together. These days are problematic for teachers and students. They are unhelpful and have become a free day for some students to do nothing except sit in class all day.