A Review: Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level

We are hearing the concept of “innovation” more and more throughout the education world but what does that mean? This is what Don Wettrick tackles in his book, Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level.


What does being an innovative educator take? According to Pete Freeman (@MrPeteFreeman), a former of student of Wettrick’s, innovation takes, “sawdust. Lots of sawdust.” (p.123). Curious?

Pete shared the story of a factory worker who took home the “worthless” sawdust that piled up in the factory and made something new with it. From worthless sawdust came particle board, mulch, and charcoal briquettes. Being innovative opened up a world of possibility. (p.121). Pete’s vision  to “…take something I was carrying around with very little value and give it life” (121) is what we want for all of our students because the last time checked, life was not a series of worksheets.


#GeniusHour, #HourofCuriosity, #20Time or, whatever you want to call it,  are all asking the same thing of us: to support a culture of innovation, and student centred learning and leadership within our schools and classrooms. It means giving students an authentic voice in their learning. Many educators consider this risky business. In an innovative classroom, educators relinquish control and provide support for students as they journey towards their goals. It is less about the worksheet and more about student passion, connecting with people in the community and the global community and utilizing social media a positive change. It is about empowering our students to make a difference in the world with their learning.

Nervous about how to get started? Don  Wettrick provides readers with the building blocks of incorporating innovation in the classroom, in an aptly named Chapter “There is No Plan”.  Wettrick gives you the guidelines in successful implementation, but the tips are already in our best practices toolkit: take risks, model risks, collaborate, connect, be creative and reflect. Most importantly, understand that the learning is the journey, not the destination.

If you are looking to truly bring student centred learning to your practice, while preparing  students with real-world problems solving skills, Pure Genius is one of the resources that can help you feel invigorated and supported as you shift the learning culture of your classroom for your students.