For far too long, there has been one standard definition of intelligence; a deeply embedded rubric that permeates society, first in education (public & private schools, higher ed) and then throughout adulthood. It has become so deeply ingrained that we no longer question its validity or efficacy... until now.
From building a school from scratch (www.forge.school), we’ve come to realize that the fundamental question in education isn’t “if you’re smart”; but, “how you’re smart”. Every day, we are fortunate to see that there are a myriad of ways that kids are smart. From dexterity to imagination, observation to design, each of us possesses a set of gifts that define our unique “talent print”.
So, the task becomes not one of standardization, where the goal is for every individual to attain a level of proficiency across the same domains. Instead, the objective is personalization where the ambition is to tap into and fully develop one’s potential — that is unique, special and differentiated from everyone else. Given the rapid advances in digital technologies (AI, ML et al), as well as our evolved understanding of human/cognitive development (nueroscience, evolutionary biology), the time is ripe for a paradigm shift in education. Our reason for being is to unlock the unique genius of millions of kids the world over.
This begins with a new framework (science) for human potential. Developed in collaboration with Dr. Brian Daly, the head of the Psychology Department at Drexel University, and built upon over five decades of executive and childhood development, we have created a proprietary model for defining an individuals unique “talent print.” The framework is comprised of nine core talents, as well as the conditions upon which an individual thrives. Understanding one’s talent print is not enough to ensure his/her advance in the world; it’s vital to know what careers are possible because of the unique capabilities and passions that an individual possesses.
Unfortunately, yet again this is where the education system falls painfully short. Rather than exposing kids to a broad array of prospective occupations/careers, most high schoolers are aware of only a handful of options — the usual suspects being Doctor, Teacher, Lawyer; the traditional college route; and the off-ramp called vo-tech.
For those that have been labeled “smart”, the choice is obvious; for the rest of the crowd, they are often left to fend for themselves. For all parties, there is too often a huge disconnect between one’s passions/talents and their path forward.
What if, though, there was a space where teens could learn about a whole catalogue of prospective careers; and, further, match up their talents with the pursuits that best meet their aspirations? This place is the MUG — My Unique Genius — a hub where teachers provide students with real life stories of success, so that they can build their own.
The portfolio is the vessel where a student crafts his/her story of success. There are four key components to the portfolio:
Identity — essence of who you are, what makes you unique
Capability — the talents and skills that are the engine of your productivity
Possibility — all the careers, life pursuits and experience you’ve explored; and what you’ve discovered along the way
Trajectory — where your life is headed; the set of options for how you will realize a meaningful and fulfilling life
Ultimately, the MUG is your canvas. A space to discover and develop what makes you truly unique.
ABOUT GEOFF HELT
Geoff Helt is an executive advisor and business builder whose life’s work is all about the relentless pursuit of potential. For the last twenty-five years, Geoff has guided top companies and leaders to transform their organizations to drive greater growth. In 2020, Geoff and his wife Carolyn, started a new school on their ranch in Bend, Oregon. Forge provides a catalytic environment where kids can translate their passions and talents into more meaningful and impactful lives. Geoff’s current portfolio of ventures is focused on creating paradigm shifts in education, strategy and human capital. In addition to the Forge School, Geoff is leading the development of My Unique Genius to spark more creative and integrative modalities for learning. Geoff is also building a next-generation human capital firm; The Capacity Project is all about helping executives close the Strategy-Talent Gap.