Borrowed Genius

Excerpted from Beyond Teaching and Learning: How to borrow some genius for your own direct use

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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Of eight major types of accelerated/enhanced learning presented in the book, Beyond Teaching And Learning, we can give you at least a glimpse of one here. We call it “Periscopic Learning;” also “Borrowed Genius” and a few other things. You can read Chapter 1 of this book here online.

How to Learn through a Periscope

We had enrolled our 4-year-old daughter in a neighborhood swim team, not for the sake of competing but simply for safety reasons, to ensure she would be competent in the water. During one of the team’s meets, in one heat a clerical error had her swim as the only small kid among 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds. To our amazement, she swam far faster than ever before and finished right in the middle of the pack.

“How did you do that?!?” we asked her. Her reply: “I made-believe I was one of the big kids.”

In Camelot, Merlin was working with young King Arthur at a point where Arthur was imagining himself to be a hawk. Asked Merlin of Arthur: “What does the hawk know, that Arthur does not know?”

Seeing through another's eyes

Like projecting your view through a periscope:  let some aspect or part of you “become” a whole, distinct person who happens to be the world’s greatest genius in what you are trying to learn. Through that new vantage point cum periscope, see and understand easily what had been obscure to you before…

…Just create such genius in the same sense that tribesmen of the Bear Clan wore the heads of bears to better understand the wilderness from which they made their living…

…Or in the same sense that one young lad of our experience, about to “not make” his high school’s baseball team, working with us during an hour of “putting on the heads” of his various baseball heroes, discovered through one of those “hero heads” how to get extra focus on the baseball by swinging, not at the baseball itself but at an imaginary flyspeck on that baseball. He made the team; his first ten games he batted 800; at season’s end he was voted MVP by not only his team but by his school’s entire league.

…Or in the same sense that in our very first 1977 experiment which launched Project Renaissance, a secretary starting to take violin lessons leaped from raw beginner to advanced student in two lessons by our special way of “putting on the head” of great violinists. She came by to visit our second experiment three weeks later and gave us a very nice concert. (ALL of us were getting similar results in our chosen areas even before we perfected this method!)

Each of the current 44 diverse methods for Periscopic Learning, through Project Renaissance’s strategies of contextual projection and description, enables one to learn with understanding, or gain in skills, years’ worth in only hours: truly “accelerated learning!” Periscopic Learning is only one of many types of accelerated learning method.

Periscopic Learning for Adults

Borrowed Genius, below, helps you define a context with whatever it is you want to deep-learn somewhere within it. We do give you a starting focus, the garden, but as soon as you can notice your imagery doing something different from what the book “calls for,” follow that, your imagery, with your describing instead of the scripted steps, because:  it’s where your imagery shows you unexpected things that you are into payoff territory.

An important region of our greater resource base, our pattern-recognizing right temporal lobe, is also the part of our system which perceives and responds to beauty. Hence, it is invaluable to design beauty into that first, easy-start, part of the context. For this we mostly use imagined gardens, parks, parkland, deep woodlands, mountain-tops, or other exquisitely lovely natural settings.

The context forms an internal consistency if we let it, congruent with the perceptions or understandings or skills you are seeking. What that means is, if you were “supposed to” describe a lush garden and you find yourself looking at a desert, describe that desert and see where it leads to. Respond to and describe what you find, not what you expect.

“Describe what comes up” in imagery, not just “what ought to be there.”


As mentioned, begin with something easy and pleasant to describe, and beautiful. Describe it with eyes kept closed, as rapidly as you can and in as much exquisitely rich sensory detail as you can. Keep a rapid flow of richly detailed description going, and describe what actually emerges in your mind’s eye rather than sticking with what you expected to see there.

We have defined a few example contexts and spelled out some specific procedures for their use, to help you get started into effective use of these deep-access, high-leverage procedures. We provide the taping and/or group-teaching version of the main procedure first, as this version is done in more detail than the solo-use version which follows. Reading through that main procedure, even if you are working alone, will help you when you use the shorter, simpler, summarized second version.

Following that shorter, simpler second version, in the new, year 2000 edition of the book, Beyond Teaching And Learning, we’ve added a special Chapter Appendix giving you another version altogether, a version to use with young children.

Procedure Script:  An experience script for leading groups

  • Have a group of eight or more participants, or a blank audio tape cassette.
  • Arrange for the room or space to be uninterrupted for 30 or more minutes.
  • Arrange your participants in pairs, review the “waterglass” rules (one “bing” = half-minute’s notice, three “bings” = instant talking-pause); closed-eyes agreement.
  • Have your participants move into pairs and/or trios, pairs preferred. Have them huddle close to each other to hear each other easily, so the results will be buzz-murmur instead of roar.

Note that simpler instructions for your own solo use of this Periscopic procedure follow after the more detailed group script below, on whatever subject or skill area, including golf, tennis, math or piano.

If this is a classroom in some particular course — such as Math 102 or recent U.S. History or Biology 142 or whatever — orient students on the idea that somewhere further on in the experience they will encounter someone or something which will play for them on this occasion the role of a genius in that subject. If this is a multi-subject class or an assembly of people without a defined academic or scholastic goal, have each pick a subject or skill s/he would like to speed-learn. This can be from scratch, or it could be to build upon some already existing proficiency. This in any event should be a subject or skill that participants can, immediately upon their return home if not before, try out and practice in real time.

Instructions in quote marks are to be read aloud to the group or to tape; instructions in parentheses are for silent reading only, to the person guiding this experience.

  1. “In this experience, as in others, the more describing we do or the more detail we describe, the more we will perceive. So we want to describe in as a rich a detail as we can, and not let any airtime lapse between us either. As one of you pauses for breath, your partner rushes in with some description of his or her own experience; when he or she pauses for breath, you rush back in with more description of your own experience, back and forth so each of you gets in as much description as possible. As to what we will describe …”
  2. “We will imagine and describe an exquisitely beautiful garden. But please notice when you get pictures in your mind’s eye, and switch to describing those pictures even if some of them are different from what the group as a whole is asked to picture. It’s the different, unexpected pictures which often teach us the most and best. But we’ll start with a garden until you get pictures, then please describe those pictures even if they go in a different direction from the images and ideas I’ll be reading to the group as a whole. So starting with a garden …”
  3. “Please imagine an exquisitely beautiful garden. Anyone can describe a garden; let’s make this garden more beautiful than any garden you’ve ever seen in real life, and very different, so that this is a very special garden indeed. Imagine yourself to be standing there in mid-garden, this extraordinary beauty all around you. Imagine or see the colors, the shapes, the spaces, the feel of this garden, the textures, the smells, the sounds of this exquisite garden …”
  4. “Beginning with what’s directly in front of you, look around you to bring more into view, maybe left and then left again, turning until you’ve seen all around you. Maybe moving through this garden, too, touching things and bringing still more into view . . . . With rich detail from all your senses, please begin describing this extraordinarily beautiful garden to your partner. Describe in such rich immediate detail that you make this garden an utterly real experience to your listener. Beginning with what’s right in front of you there in this garden, please begin describing now …”
    (Allow 4 to 6 minutes. Make sure everyone is participating, but don’t overmanage. After 4 minutes, listen for the first lull in the buzz-murmur. When it comes, or within 6 minutes, sound the chime or waterglass once lightly, softly saying something like, “Continue, half- minute’s notice, meanwhile keep going . . . . ” At the next lull or after 30 to 60 seconds, sound three “bings,” saying…)
  5. “Thank you, keeping eyes closed, moving perhaps still deeper into this garden experience or into whatever this space has become for you if not a garden. Please now imagine a genius joining you here in this special space or in this garden. Perhaps this genius is someone you know or someone you don’t know; perhaps this genius is past, present, future, or imaginary. Best perhaps to let yourself be surprised by who or what your larger mind puts there in this space to play the role of genius at your chosen subject or skill. Whoever or whatever this genius is, there in this space or in this garden, please begin describing this genius in the same rich detail as you were describing the garden. Make this genius utterly real to your listener through the richness of your description, especially the feel of the warm, welcoming presence of this genius. There in this space or in this garden, through the richness of your description, please begin now making this genius utterly real to your listener . . . “
    (Same parenthetical instructions as following Step #4 above, except allowing only three to five minutes. One “bing”; three “bings” and say …)
  6. “Thank you, keeping eyes closed, perhaps moving even deeper into this experience, there with this genius in your garden or in whatever this space has become for you … It’s one thing to see a genius from outside; it’s another thing to get the inside story of what it’s like being a genius. That inside story is what we want to discover now …”
  7. “Please stand your genius at arm’s length distance from you, with his or her or its back to you. Good, now please sort of just waft yourself forward into this genius, bring your eyes to where the eyes of this genius are, so you can look through and with the eyes of this genius at this same space or garden you’ve been in. Bring your ears to where the ears of this genius are, so you can listen to the sounds of this garden or space through and with the ears of this genius. Bring your senses, your mind and body and memories and perceptions to where those of this genius are, so that you now become this genius. As this genius, look around this same space or garden you’ve just been in but now with the eyes and senses and mind and awarenesses of this genius. Notice that as this genius you perceive some differences, differences between what this genius sees in this same garden or space and what you saw there before you joined this genius. Some of those differences might be surprising. Whatever they are, observe now as this genius, be this genius and make these differences utterly real to your listener through the richness of your description, as you resume describing now . . . “
    (Same parenthetical instructions, 3 to 5 minutes. One “bing.” Three “bings,” and say …)
  8. “Thank you, eyes still closed, staying in this experience, perhaps moving even deeper into this experience — even as we move more directly into whatever it is that this genius is a genius at, please stay as sensory as possible in your descriptions. The understandings and abstractions and a-ha!s will almost take care of themselves, if we continue to stay firmly with the rich sensory detail of being this genius …”
  9. “Move now into some of what it is that your genius is a genius at, either there in this garden or space or just beyond it, or by moving back through the memories of your genius. Continuing to be this genius, engage in some of what it is that this genius is a genius at, and study the feelings in the body of this genius doing that, not just what the genius sees and hears. What are the perceptions of this genius, while your genius is doing this thing he, she or it is a genius at? As this genius, make all these sensory perceptions of your genius utterly real to your listener as you resume describing now …”
    (Same parenthetical instructions, four to six minutes. One “bing,” three “bings,” then say …)
  10. “Good, eyes still closed, moving perhaps even deeper into this experience, still continuing to be this genius. Please give special note to the details of body feeling in this genius, especially the characteristic posture of this genius, the characteristic gestures and pattern of movement, the feelings in each part of the body associated especially with when this thing at which the genius is a genius … when this thing goes really well or goes into a full a-ha! What are the feelings in the face of this genius? What are the feelings in the neck and shoulders of this genius? In every other part of the body of this genius, while being especially effective at this thing your genius is a genius at? All these body-related feelings of the genius, especially, please now make utterly real to your listener as you resume describing now . . . “
    (Same parenthetical instructions, three to six minutes. One “bing,” three “bings,” then say …)
  11. “Since you are now being this genius, you can move freely through this genius’s memories. Go now to the moment of greatest understanding or illumination in the lifetime memory of this genius, the point of highest or greatest a-HA!, the time when, more than any other, everything came together and suddenly made wonderful sense. Describe as much as you can of that moment, and of that experience, and of the perceptions and understandings which were part of that experience, resuming your describing now . . .”
    (Same parenthetical instruction, three to seven minutes depending on how well this goes. One “bing.” Three “bings,” and say …)
  12. “Thank you … please walk now in front of a big, full-length mirror. See this genius there facing you in the mirror. Now abolish the mirror, have the genius standing there and you back here, facing each other. Project a warm feeling of thanks to your genius. Perhaps your genius is also projecting thanks to you for the opportunity to share some of the experiences which mean so much to him or her or it. Now have your genius hand you a tiny cellular pocket phone. See your genius also pocketing his or her own little cellular phone. Let the felt understanding between you be that you can tap this genius any time, not just when you’re in special experience, for what this genius is special for … and that this genius can tap you for what you’re special for. Even if this genius is only an extension of your own resource base, this seems to work better when set up reciprocally, on a two-way basis. And now …”
  13. “Listen closely while this genius points out something especially important in this experience, or tells you something you especially should know in this context. Listen intently, see what happens, for just a moment …”
    (Five- to ten-second pause) “… and report what this special insight or perception was, to your listener beginning now . . .”
    (Same parenthetical instructions, two to four minutes. One “bing,” three “bings,” then say:)
  14. “Returning with full awareness to here and now, fully refreshed, coming fully present, and feeling pretty darn good! When you come back from the five-minute break, please be with a new partner for the most important part of this experience. When you return five minutes from now, please sit with a new partner. Thank you.”
    (Or snap off the tape recorder at the point of “feeling pretty darn good” in that step. If working alone and from the tape as guide, your debriefing will need to be on paper — see below.)
  15. “Like an astronaut returning to Mission Control from a mission to a far world, tell your new partner everything you’ve experienced on this mission as if your new partner were Mission Control. Tell everything that happened, and in rich detail, but in just a minute or two. We’ll take turns on this one — after two minutes I’ll sound the chime and your partner will get to de-brief to you.
  16. “In debriefing, please keep eyes open this time, and if you can stay in the present tense, so much the better — telling it like it’s happening now instead of having just happened. Instead of, ‘I was walking down this path,’ say more like ‘I’m walking down this path, it’s all bricks with moss over, grass with dew sparkling to either side …’ and so on, and try to stay in present tense if you can. So, in present tense, eyes open, please tell your new partner everything you experienced, especially from the part where you became the genius and saw surprising differences between the way the genius saw the garden and the way you’d seen it earlier. So please begin describing now . . .”
    (Two to four minutes later, with first lull in buzz-murmur, gently “bing” three times, saying gently …)
  17. “Even at some risk of incompletion, please now make sure your partner also has air time. You can finish your present sentence, and then it’s time to let your partner begin describing now . . .”
    (Optional, if you feel this session has been going really well, you may elect to include this Step 17-A next. Otherwise, skip on to Step 18.)
    17-A. “Now for a minute or so, not only describe your genius to your partner, show your genius to your partner. The expressions on your genius’s face; the way that genius sits, stands, moves about; your genius’s characteristic posture and patterns of gesture and movement — please show these to your partner and vice-versa.”]
    (Two to four minutes later, half-minute single “bing” and then a half minute later, three “bings,” saying:)
  18. “On your own, with blank tape and a tape recorder, you can go back to this or any garden, to this or any genius, as often as you please, first on this one skill or subject until you’ve fully mastered it and then on as many others as you like.”
  19. “The main thing is to go back and forth between this kind of experience at genius level understanding and skill, and real-time practice and conventional learning at that same understanding or skill. If you’ve never touched a keyboard but had Rachmaninoff for your genius this time, then as soon as you can, go over to a real piano in real time and try some ‘plink-plunk.’ Then go back to Rachmaninoff and be that genius again, then back to the piano in real-time again, back and forth like that if possible 2 to 4 times per day for several days, 10 to 30 minutes each way each time. All of a sudden, it’ll come together and you’ll be that genius and playing the piano well in real time, and all that skill and perception will be yours. And so on for whatever skills or subjects you please, hours of this combined inner and outer experiencing accomplishing what years of conventional effort could be.”
  20. “For now, please return to this space here, fully refreshed, and determine how, as soon as possible or in the next 12 hours, you can get in some real-time learning or practice of the same skill or subject you’ve just been a genius at. Soon as you can, begin that alternation and drive your own skills, within a day or so, all the way up to where that genius was and then beyond. Thank you for making this experience happen.”

The foregoing was a very detailed “recipe for an experience,” but note how simple as A-B-C it really is:

A. The more you describe something while examining it, the more you will perceive.

B. Design a context and plunk into it a chunk of the understandings or skills you want to bring conscious.

C. Start at an easy, non-confrontational point in that context and describe the dickens out of that context until everything in that context has been drawn thereby into the focus of consciousness.

Working with Tape Recorder

Now that you’ve read through the detailed, group form of the “Model Method” (or “inside story of genius”), and referred it back to the three simple key principles, please set up your tape recorder.

Here are two ways to work with your tape recorder:

  1. Record the foregoing group instructions on tape, with the appropriate pauses. Then on playback, follow that tape’s directions and, in those pauses, “answer back to the voice on the tape,” describing your perceptions at that point. Your descriptions can also be onto blank tape in a second tape recorder, operating with stop/go functions for convenience, controlled by a hand-held mike with thumb switch, or with a (sound volume) voice-controlled mike switch. The extra focus, of recording your excursion experience onto blank tape, lends extra acuity to your developing perceptions and focusing.
  2. You can simply go into the garden from memory, and/or from the following capsule of summarized instructions. Bring on the genius. Enter into and become that genius. Compare and build sensory perceptions, first in the garden and then at the activity in which your genius is a genius.

In either case, remember to stay as sensory-based as possible in your descriptions, until virtually the end of the excursion where, once the perceptions have become well developed, you can afford to give some attention to the intellectual understandings focused through the genius. It’s important to let those understandings follow the sensory-based experience. If you bring those understandings in early, they tend to cut you off from experience and throw you back into your intellectualizing left brain before you’ve brought in data from your wider reaches.

In either case, decide now what skill or subject you’re going to build by High Leverage technique this time. Stick with that skill or subject, through this and/or subsequent procedures — and through that alternating between various inner “genius” experiences and outer “real-time,” conventional-level experiences and learning efforts — until you’ve built your actual high proficiencies therein. Time enough afterward to pick up other skills, other subject learnings. Complete what it takes to build genuine real-time personal proficiency in the one first, to “legitimize” for you that continuing on to as many others as you please will be a personal-growth investment and not just an indulgence in whimsy.

Instruction Summary

Here, then, is the “do-it-yourself” capsule of summarized instructions for the “Model Method” of Deep Recall, High Leverage, Learning:

  1. Imagine and describe being in an exquisitely beautiful garden.
  2. Have join you, there in that garden, someone or something who for this round is a genius in the skill or area of understanding you’ve chosen.
  3. Imagine wafting yourself forward INTO this genius, becoming this genius. Look through and with the eyes and senses of this genius, at this same garden. Notice and describe the differences in the way this genius sees/perceives this garden and the way you were perceiving it before.
  4. Move into whatever it is that this genius is a genius AT. With special attention to feelings in the body of the genius, characteristic postures, gestures, patterns of movement and body english, describe every sensory detail you can about HOW this genius experiences when being a genius.
  5. Seek out and experience a moment during the lifetime of this genius when this genius experienced a very special moment of a-ha! or illumination, when everything came together to make tremendous sense. Describe everything you can about that moment and about the feeling of that moment in the body of your genius.
  6. Return your genius’s head to his/her/its own shoulders. Exchange thanks and receive that miniature pocket phone so you can continue to draw upon genius-level resources even when doing other things than this experience.
  7. Allow your genius to point out to you a key point in this experience, or even tell you the most important thing you’ve yet to realize about it. Listen and look intently, and report your impressions regardless of whether at first they seem to make sense to you.
  8. Return. De-brief your experience onto notepad.

One of the ways you, yourself, can discover new techniques of your own for accelerated learning, and fresh skills, is to use the above from time to time on yourself, “putting on the head” of teachers, real or imaginary, who are extraordinarily good at just that … teaching!

Availability details for the book, Beyond Teaching And Learning, which is chock-full cover to cover with a great range and variety of such self-taught techniques, you can find posted in the Books section.

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