I was first introduced to Sir Ken Robinson through a talk he gave at TED, where he discussed the idea that our schools are killing creativity and that there is a need to drastically rethink the way schools are run. The talk is engaging and thought provoking for those of us who are intimately involved in the education of our children. For background, take a look at the talk:
Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com
This intrigued enough to want to know more about what the author had to say, so I picked up The Element from the library. Stated up front in the book flap is this information:
The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion.
This book looks at the various ways in which creativity is expressed, although it tends to camp out in the arts. There is some mention of science is present, however most of the examples are actors, authors and musicians. The idea of finding one's "tribe," or group of people with similar interests and goals is discussed, as is the necessity to make full use of what he calls our "natural resources" by encouraging people to work in their areas of strength, even though they may need to have a regular paying job to make a living. At the end of the book, Sir Robinson takes some time to discuss education and how, as a nation, the US is constantly revising the system, but still basing the system on the same concepts, with the added emphasis on standardized testing. He proposes changes based upon his observations that sound amazingly like what the home schooling movement has been putting into place all over the country: engaging students in what they are learning, thematic integration of curriculum and an emphasis on encouraging students to use their strengths and creativity to think critically and tackle real world problems.
Over all, this book is an interesting read - As well as being a keen observer of life, Sir Robinson is a fantastic storyteller who uses real life stories to illustrate his points. Sir Robinson sees the potential in every person, and I agree with him that we do indeed have a great deal of potential, however Sir Robinson believes it is completely within the capacity of a person to solve the problems of this world. As a Christian, I believe that we only have that capacity as we operate within the will of God, doing work as He guides us. It is God who will ultimately solve the problems of this world and while I certainly found The Element to be worth reading, it really drove home to me just how much people of this world are depending on themselves for their own salvation and that they see that salvation here in this physical world, not in a spiritual world.