The Genius Five Year Old


This is my twenty-eighth year in education. For seventeen of those years, I taught full time in four different elementary schools in East Tennessee. I’ve worked in a rural Appalachian school, a large suburban school, an inner city school, and a small, local, city school. I took time away from public school to homeschool my own children through middle and high school. I am currently working part-time as a home instruction teacher for students who are on IEP’s (individual education plans) and who for various reasons are unable to attend the brick and mortar school. Over the years, as a special education teacher, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve had the opportunity to work with students with many different disabilities diagnoses, different races, different socio-economic situations, and different family situations. Yearly, I complete assessments for a myriad number of homeschooling families. I co-founded a monthly support group for families that have children with various disability diagnoses, whose sole goal is to educate families and come alongside them with support and give them the chance to network with other parents. I tell you this to let you know I am passionate about learning. I am always learning, myself, but also helping students, parents, and anyone else who is interested, to learn.

This year, along with my other teaching, I get to spend a large amount of time playing with my seventeen-month-old granddaughter. I get to watch learning happen, as each new and exciting opportunity unfolds. Geo-blocks. Yes! Unix cubes. Wahoo! Puppets and dolls, and sensory balls that light up, and everything. With a one-year-old literally, ANYTHING can become a toy. A paper towel roll, a cardboard box, toilet paper, or Kleenex. Anything.


people-children-child-happy-160946.jpegThe other night my husband came across an article that he told me I needed to read. It was an article about our education system in this country, and quite frankly, how it is letting us down. This is not about the teachers, and really not the local administrators either. It is more about the education system as a whole. It has been my belief for many years (and remember I have been on the “inside” for just shy of three decades), that our education system in the United States is broken. Learning that might have worked as preparation for the factory jobs of the industrialization era, doesn’t work anymore. It is my opinion, that this type of rote education has stifled creativity, problem-solving, and innovation in our children.



Back to the article (Study Shows Kids are Born Creative Geniuses, But the Education System Destroys Imagination), my husband showed me… “Dr. George Land and Beth Jarman were commissioned by NASA to help the space agency identify and develop creative talent”. Sixteen hundred students, followed at five years old, ten years old, and fifteen years old. Creativity and innovative problem solving plummeted as the students got closer to graduation.

This is Dr. Land during a TED talk.

There has got to be a better way!


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