This article is part of a satirical issue of Educational Horizons.
What happens when Genius Hour really works? One teacher finds out firsthand that the plan to engage students in learning has unintended consequences.
New York state’s current teacher of the year, Ima Teacha, was recently let go from New York City Public Schools and is now hitting the pavement, looking for a job in the private sector. Why, you ask? She had a big idea that led to an even bigger problem.
“I visited Google headquarters on my spring break after finding a great deal on Groupon,” Teacha said. “For $49.99, I bought a two-hour Segway tour of the corporate headquarters with the Google CEO as our tour guide! I later found out the tour was a way to raise money for a failing Google Video. During the tour, we learned about the employee workday at Google. I was inspired by the fact that their employees could spend 20% of their time working on projects that followed their individual passions. A few weeks later, I read an article called ‘Genius Hour: Teach. Create. Innovate.’ in a Go Teach magazine I found in the teacher’s lounge. I thought I’d give it a try in my 5th-grade classroom. I had no idea it would make my position as an educator unnecessary!”
Genius Hour is a teacher-created version of Google’s 20% free development concept, where students can spend a portion of their work time on any project that follows their passion. In simple terms, they pose a question, research it, and create a vehicle to share their project with the greater world.
“It’s similar to project-based learning and inquiry-based learning, but it has a much cooler name. I’m talking ‘#loveit #geniushourawesomeness,’” said 5th-grade student Jean Yehz.
The NYC mayor released a statement, saying that “with a heavy heart, we had to let one of our best teachers go. But the students just didn’t need her anymore. We are sad to lose Ms. Teacha, but optimistic that due to the savings from her salary, we can now buy enough iPad minis to make every school in Queens a one-to-one!”
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