Education Trends: The Genius Fallacy — Hidden Habits of Extraordinary Thinkers

4 min read

Edition: March 5, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

“All kids are born geniuses, but are crushed by society”, American theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku once said. (Image Credit: Canva)

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Albert Einstein

We are all curious by nature. Unfortunately, many educational institutions make it challenging to nurture our curiosities as we grow up. “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education”, Einstein said.

Society and educational systems take us on a different path as we grow up.

The desire to understand the world and its complexities can only be nurtured if you make deliberate time for it, i.e. if your present life career allows it. The demands of life and living make it nearly impossible for so many people to hone their curiosities.

Einstein was almost caught up in the higher education system. He used to question authorities. “Unthinking respect for authority,” he said, “is the greatest enemy of truth.”

He never got a recommendation for a job from his professors after university. So he worked as a patent clerk from 1902 to 1909.

Yet, he transformed human understanding of light, matter, time and space.

Almost every human mind is capable of critical, creative and innovative thinking. Given the right environment and time, you can improve on existing ideas or create new ones.

There’s is no universal standard, law, principle or rule for becoming a genius.

Beyond I.Q., talent or prodigy

  • Genius is a developmental process. It starts with curiosity. It has less to do with your I. Q.
  • Given the right determination and curiosities, anyone can master a skill. Intelligence represents a set of competencies in development, said Robert Sternberg from Tufts University in the U.S. in 2005, after many decades of study.
  • Your abilities are not carved in genetic stone. They are honed based on expectations from your parents, the people closest to you, and the ideas you are exposed to from childhood.
  • Like a jukebox, the individual has the potential to play a number of different developmental tunes. The particular developmental tune it does play is selected by [the environment] in which the individual is growing up,” says Patrick Bateson, a biologist at Cambridge University.
  • High achievers in almost every field master principles, learning practices and methods that have been improved over time to become geniuses.
  • You can only hone something that takes years, sometimes decades, to master if you are insanely curious about digging deeper.

Here are some examples of this:

  • Mozart was incredibly passionate about music. It took him almost 20 years to compose his first masterpiece. “You know that I immerse myself in music — that I think about it all day long — that I like experimenting — studying — reflecting,” he once said.
  • Da Vinci was insanely curious about almost everything. He was a polymath.
  • Thomas Edison was obsessed with light bulbs.
  • Charles Darwin spent all his life exploring the origin of living things.

People who end up as geniuses find the missing piece everyone ignores.

Your abilities are not carved in a genetic stone

  • Every human brain represents potential. Many people stop at what the educational system offers. They don’t push themselves far enough to discover what they are capable of doing.
  • Sometimes, the many issues of life get the better of them.
  • Others can’t push past what the system expects of them. They learn to get grades and stop when it’s not required. They don’t follow their curiosities. 

Not everyone is wired to think in the same way. Many great artists don’t think analytically or think in equations. It doesn’t make them less of a genius. Here are some examples:

  • Picasso was a genius, but he was not a scientific thinker.
  • Beethoven left school at age 11 to help with family income. He never learned how to multiply.

The right mixture of nature, environmental factors and focus can turn anyone into a genius over time. You can achieve your greatness if you want it bad enough.

Just be ready to commit a reasonable amount of time, sometimes a decade, to pursuing or creating the one thing you deeply care about.

An average person with average talents and ambition and average education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society if that person has clear, focused goals.

Brian Tracy

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Career Trends: Changes in Hospitality Sector That Will Challenge Management

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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