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The Element – Book Review

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element

 

In this book, Ken Robinson argues that a fulfilling career comes through the recognition and development of those skills for which we show a natural aptitude and affinity.

Chapters include: Think Differently / Finding Your Tribe / What Will They Think? / Do You Feel Lucky? / Is It Too Late? / For Love Or Money

Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ made a big impression on me, as I’m sure it did on many other professionals working in the field of education. In it, he made a convincing case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity.  This book has been written in the same anecdotal style that Robinson used in his TED talk and is certainly readable as an extended essay. It takes the themes from his TED talk, expanding and enriching them through the use of popular psychology and celebrity examples. It will be of interest to parents, students, educators and those yearning to move on from a career which feels like a chore.

‘Great teachers have always understood that their role is not to teach subjects but to teach students.’

This book could (wrongly) be grouped alongside the plethora of ‘gladwell/freakonomics-esque’ literature that now fills the bookshelves of shops and homes across the country, but what distinguishes ‘The Element’ from similar publications of this type is Robinson’s focus on creativity and the need for teaching the individual. Western education in the 20th and 21st centuries has embraced a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; one which many adults will testify did not work for them. Robinson argues for urgent educational reform, embracing the arts as a catalyst for students to explore and develop their inherent talents. Robinson writes well and with sincerity, never sensationalising, or trivialising.

So what is ‘The Element’? Robinson describes it as “the place where the things you love to do and the things that you are good at come together.”

So how does one go about finding it? Not so straightforward. If there is something missing from Robinson’s book it is in the ‘how to…’ area. There is scant practical advice on how to discover your own ‘Element’. However, anyone who has any responsibility for teaching and learning would be well advised to read this book and incorporate its message into their own delivery and practice.

 

Book rating: C1

Written by Sander de Groot

 

Practical – theoretical rating

Very practical book, but based on theory 4
Mainly practical book 3
Mainly theoretical but some practice 2
Good on theory but not a practical book 1

 

Easy – difficult rating

An easy read D
Reasonably easy read C
Requires concentration B
Longish or requires quite a bit of effort A
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