I agree with you wholeheartedly--would love to talk more about how to develop the curriculum. We don't live in silos, but we continue to adhere to this antiquated method of teaching. Giving students freedom and accountability for synthesis of knowledge will encourage both ownership and empathy, as they relate historical injustices to current, relevant issues. I love this!
Thanks for the feedback! I agree that students need to feel in control over their educational plan in order to feed their passions!
As to genius hour connecting with empathy, I see it working in two different ways. First, students in middle and high school are often grouped by ability and/or academic plans. Therefore, they often travel from class to class with primarily the same students. An elective genius hour would expand their normal social circles, which increases awareness of others' interests and passions. Furthermore, they may find similar interests with students who they may not normally interact. This would increase empathy by simply exposing them to new people with new interests and passions. Second, students who feel nurtured and supported are more likely to nurture and support others. They would have great opportunities to grow their individual talents and passions while supporting each other, especially when it's effectively modeled by the adult.