Students in Art III are pursuing passion projects as part of the Genius Hour, an educational movement where students spend 20% of their class time on inquiry-based, student-led learning.
Passion is how Genius Hour projects begin. Art III students find inspiration from various places, many from well-known artists they follow on Instagram but also from members of their own families. They each choose a passion to focus on, and this semester, that includes large-scale weaving, hyperrealism, dressmaking, embroidery, calligraphy, printmaking, porcelain painting, and large-scale art.
Finding inspiration is the easy part. What comes next is not. Students teach themselves new skills, testing their endurance, patience, and capabilities along the way. They must create their own timelines, set their own goals, and discover their own resources. They rely on research for direction as they self-learn through online videos and tutorials and absorb problem-solving advice from chosen mentors. Grit and resilience are essential pieces of completing a Genius Hour project. Project development, experimentation, and creative risk-taking are all part of this lengthy, but rewarding process.
Along the way, students may hit points of failure. This is part of their learning experience and growth from failure is considered a success. They reflect, adjust, and continue. And while students will ultimately present their class with a final project, the end result isn’t really an end at all – it’s an ongoing appreciation of the art of learning.
The Genius Hour is largely based on a business practice successfully implemented by Google. Employees were allowed to spend 20% of their time focusing on passion projects with the idea that productivity would increase. Increase it did. Around half of Google’s projects – including Gmail, Adsense, Google News, Google Talk, and Google Reader – were developed during this self-directed, passion project time.