The history of genius

genius

The word genius is older than Rome.  It was born with the ancients.

They believed that a genius was a spirit, possibly good, possibly bad, that each person has directing the destiny of his life.

This genius spirit arrived at your birth, guided your actions, guarded and protected you, and even was a teacher.

The word hasn’t changed its shape at all in thousands of years.  It came from the same word in Latin, genius, which back then meant a guardian, deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth.

By 1828 in America this outside spirit was completely gone from the word genius.

For them genius was believed not to come from outside of us, but to be a spirit inherent in every person.  It was believed to be a unique mental and intellectual talent or aptitude residing within each of us.

In other words, the people of that time and place believed every man and woman has genius inside.  200 years ago.

Gradually that changed over the years, and genius came to mean uncommon powers of intellect, particularly the power of invention.  This idea now was that it was unusual to be possessed of vigor of mind and superior intellectual faculties, that a person who has these is very, very rare.

That’s what the people of today mean when they use the word genius.  It’s not for everyone.

Having been in the teaching profession for over 30 years, I’m quite certain the people of 1828 were the ones who got it right.  I clearly see genius residing in each person.

magnolia budsI view my job as an educator as an incredible opportunity to help those who cross my path, to help them specifically to bring that genius residing within them out so it has many buds and blossoms like all of the magnolia trees in my neighborhood right now.  Not one blossom, but many.  It is pure ecstasy to see it happen.

We are ALL educators because people are constantly learning from each of us.

May you be surrounded by people who nurture your genius and may you inspire the genius of many others.

By the way, this history of the word came from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary which is available online and in print from Amazon, and also from http://www.etymonline, both a tremendous source of genius-nurturing material.

Love,

Ingrid

genius

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