Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. has more than thirty years of teaching experience from the primary through the doctoral level. He has authored many books related to learning and human development.
His writing on the natural genius of children is an excellent endorsement of Scouting;
Essentially, the real meaning of genius is to “give birth to the joy” that is within each child. Every child is born with that capacity. Each child comes into life with wonder, curiosity, awe, spontaneity, vitality, flexibility, and many other characteristics of a joyous being… These youthful traits are highly valued from an evolutionary perspective: the more species evolve, the more they carry youthful traits into adulthood (a process called “neotony” or “holding youth”).
It is imperative that we, as educators and parents, help preserve these genius characteristics of children as they mature into adulthood, so those capacities can be made available to the broader culture at a time of incredible change.
First, and most importantly, adults need to reawaken their own natural genius—find within themselves the source waters of their own creativity, vitality, playfulness, and wonder. For when children are surrounded by curious and creative adults, they have their own inner genius sparked into action.
Second, adults need to provide simple activities to activate the genius of children. Something as simple as a story, a toy (Einstein said that a simple magnetic compass awakened his love of learning at the age of four), a visit to a special place, or a question, can unlock the gates to a child’s love of learning.
Third, create a “genial” atmosphere at home or school, where kids can learn in a climate free from criticism, comparison, and pressure to succeed. Treat each child as a unique gift from God capable of doing wonderful things in the world.
Finally, understand that each child will be a genius in a totally different way from another child. Forget the standard I.Q. meaning of genius, and use models like the theory of multiple intelligences to help kids succeed on their own terms. By following these simple guidelines for awakening each child’s natural genius, you will be contributing immeasurably to the welfare of your children and to the world they will inherit someday.