Book Review “The Element” By. Ken Robinson


The Element


The Element by Ken Robinson published in 2009 is a book that goes in depth on his view that creativity at an early ages is killed. Children are brainwashed into the “square” that the school systems have created. Leaving no room for children to stretch their creative, independent legs. School systems are not staying up to pace with society, as society– specifically the professional world are harnessing and thirsty for people who have embraced their unique, creativity and ability to think independently. Robinson talks about his beliefs on how kids aren’t finding their passions in school. How they completely miss the mark and make it actually less likely that students will fulfill their “element”/passion. The argument that Ken Robinson puts forth is more than the woulda shoulda coulda’s of the school systems, it’s about having lives that have purpose and meaning, in and beyond whatever work we do.

Ken Robinson an educationalist has a broad background. Being and English author, speaker (many Ted Talks), international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He was a director of the arts in Schools Project, a Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick. Aside his experiences his occupation entails being an author, speaker, expert on education, creativity and innovation, as well as holding a Ph.D.

Before starting this book I thought I knew what it was going to talk about: telling me how to find my passion. I was very curious on what it would tell me and how the little stories of other people’s experiences were going to help me find my own passion.  Of course I hoped it would answer my question of “what is my passion”, “is the passion I have right now really my passion?” Obviously it didn’t blatantly tell me what my passion was. Yet, it did walk me through on how not to close any doors, to open up my mind. That I am unique and I don’t have to fit into a box. I can be many different things and no matter what, there is something to help harness my passion as long as I open and accept that door.  As I first started reading with the perspective of leadership I didn’t quite understand how this could help me as leader. Once I got into the book more I realized why I was very wrong. The moment I came to the realization is when Robinson says, “The only way to prepare for the future is to make the most out of ourselves on the assumption that doing so will make us as flexible and productive as possible.” Which he explains is the finding of our element “the place where our natural aptitude meets our personal passion.  Furthermore, it depends on our attitudes and opportunities”, he sums it up as, “I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity).” As a leader the more you know about yourself the better you can lead. To be able to know how to find your passion and harness it only makes you stronger. To not only find it in yourself but to help others find there’s, is a leadership skills I consider not typical but very beneficial. It is a leadership I strive to have. Reading this book will get you one step closer to finding and understanding your own element, which gets you closer to helping others do the same.

Key concepts

This book is very elaborate. It talks very much in depth about “The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.” How when you find your element you’ll feel the most yourself, most inspired and achieve at your highest levels. The take away from this book can be broken done into four sections. I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity).

  1. Intelligence and creativity are not limited. Instead of asking how intelligent we should be asking how is that person intelligent. Also how everyone is creative in different ways, finding creativity sometimes is finding our medium to help us find our element. Robinson also gives examples of people who have harnessed and pursued their intelligence and creativity. (I get it (Aptitude))
  2. Then to find support groups who share the same element as you. How obstacles may come in our way, we have to hurdle them to pursue our element. We also have to keep an open mind to allow us to see the opportunities available to us every day and it’s ok to ask for help. (I love it (Passions)), (I want it (Attitude))
  3. Coming to the end, he showed how it is never too late “while our bodies definitely will age, our minds do not have to.” He gives examples of people that took years to find their element ad pursue them. Then even goes to talk and give examples how some may find passion in things that they don’t get paid to do. (I want it (Attitude)), (Where is it(Opportnity))
  4. Bringing it full circle he talks about how standardized testing isn’t the way. We shouldn’t be having standardized education, we should have individualized education. His lasting print he wants to make is his idea of Elemental Education.  “In fact, the real challenges for education will only be met by empowering passionate and creative teachers and by firing up the imaginations and motivations of the students.” So future generations can find their element earlier. They can pursue and grow their passions to their full potential. (I get it. (Aptitude), I love it. (Passion), I want it.  (Attitude), Where is it? (Opportunity)).

These four components are walking you through the whole journey of finding your passion/ “element” how to pursue it and grow it, how no matter how long it takes you if you don’t get paid you should pursue it and then it ends wanting you to be aware and take action for future generations and their journey to find and grow their element.

Application to student leaders (three paragraphs)

This book has broadened my leadership frame. Not only is their specific leadership philosophies and “ways” but the pursuit of finding how your true element can change everything. Whether your find a hub with people who share the same passion. Where you together can make a huge difference, or you help others find and grow their own element. It has prepared me as a CMU leader to know everyone has their own element whether they have found it or they haven’t and to be aware of that. Understanding that can only make you a stronger leader.

This book wasn’t easy to read it takes a bit too fully grasp the content of the story. The mini stories do get redundant, which made it hard for me to get in the rhythm of the book. As I worked my way through it was easier for me to put the full puzzle together. If you’re looking for a book to help guide you to help others and yourself find their element the book is a great tool. So with that for me it depends on the person if I would recommend it to them or not. It heavily talks about the wrongs of the education system which I feel strongly towards but could be very dry and boring to others.

After reading this book I will approach many things differently. The way I looked at it is I want to encourage others to color outside the lines. Find your element “color” and scribble that sh** everywhere and to love every second, because finding your passion changes everything.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s