Attribution Share Alike by patrikneckman
Attribution Share Alike by patrikneckman

I put the kids into a very tight box for each assignment. There are many restrictions for most projects.  Minutes, number of words, amount of sources, objects they must use, and options they can choose–I actually control quite a bit of what they must accomplish.  Each box they are placed into is very different and so they have to struggle and be creative to find an innovative way to get out of each.

I used to do “Genius Hours” and “20% Time” before they had names, books, and blog posts.  I stopped.  I found that freedom did not make them more creative then placing them into a tight box and forcing them to figure their way out.

It is not that kids can’t think outside the box, it’s that they are only ever given one type of box to escape from.


  1. I’ve been thinking a lot (as a graduate education student getting ready to join the classroom) about this since having watched the linked video. http://www.ted.com/talks/phil_hansen_embrace_the_shake.html
    I think there is value in both complete freedom (though I have first-hand experience of how overwhelming that freedom can be: you mean I can write about anything? Anything?) and the creativity it takes to create within confines or established limits.

  2. If you take a look at the schools that offer genius hours and 20% time I don’t think they reflect typical schools, and certainly they do not reflect typical teachers. Here is the problem with giving total freedom in schools…and again not all schools. If they kids have not had a lot of rich learning experiences and then are told to “do what they want” or “follow their passion” they go no where because they simply don’t have any past experiences to fall back upon. When I did 20% it was only a certain demographic that got something out of it–and it was always the kids who already had rich experiences outside of school and had a “list” of passions to fall back upon and explore. The kid who stays at home, and does worksheets and tests does not have many ingredients to bake with when told they have free reign of the kitchen.

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