It’s Elemental, my dear Robinson!

theelementI have been anticipating the publication of Ken Robinson’s the Element since it was first announced, which seems like over a year ago. I was also hopeful that the author’s voice would mimic his presentation style, unlike the last book of his I tried to read, Out of Our Minds (which I could not get through). Happily, despite the many typos (around 12!) in the Element, Sir Ken’s humor, narrative and story telling expertise all came through.

This is a book about not only finding your passion, but also about the importance of doing so – both for yourself and for the benefit of moving society along. It is also about how the nature of education has to not only change, but actually TRANSFORM in order to better serve those who engage in the process (and perhaps open up pathways for those who drop out of the process).

One of Robinson’s points, made with co-author Lou Aronica, is that in way too many instances our educational systems discourage students from pursuing their passions, or worse yet, do not provide environments that foster finding one’s element. He shares a slew of stories about prominent people who found their elements despite their “education”, in some cases choosing to forego finishing their formal education.

A number of ideas resonated strongly with me, two in particular.

The future for education is not in standardizing but in customizing; not in promoting group think and ‘deindividuation’ but in cultivating the real depth and dynamism of human abilities of every sort.

Finding your element, especially if it is NOT your job, will probably enhance how you do your job.

Getting back to the first idea – Robinson suggests we need to

  • transform curriculum, and “eliminate the…hierarchy of subjects”
  • instead of “subjects”, curriculum should be based upon disciplines
  • curriculum should be personalized


The Notes section of the book provides URLs for a number of topics and ideas referenced. Not all of the sites are pertinent to what I tend to write about, but below are those which complement this post.

Another look at the five senses – perhaps we have more than just five? Exploding the five senses by Andrew Cook

Audiblox is a worldwide company that has put together “a system of cognitive exercises, aimed at the development of foundational learning skills” and seems to focus on those who have learning difficulties. The founder of Audiblox, Jan Strydom, along with Susan Du Plessis, has authored IQ Test; Where Does It Come From and What Does It Measure?

A conversation about The Future of the SAT in The Chronicle of Higher Education 

Tony Buzan talking, in a number of short videos, about the use and benefits of Mind Mapping

The Rules of Mind Mapping 
Use both sides of the brain 
The rest of the videos are available here

Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Mentoring Project Who Mentored You? 

International Telementor Program – “facilitates electronic mentoring relationships between professional adults and students worldwide”

Public/Private Ventures “creating and strengthening programs that improve lives in low-income communities” 

The UP Experience – a one-day, less expensive version of TED 


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s