Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

I just finished my first Kindle Read. Can I say how much I LOVE the Kindle and how happy I am to have read THE ELEMENT by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica?

One of my favorite features of The Kindle is the highlighting feature. While reading, I can highlight a passage, take a note, and then have those all stored in one place on my Kindle for later reference. So, after reading this book, I was able to quickly revisit all of the lines and passages that really resonated with me.

THE ELEMENT is a great book. I have always been interested in people's creativity and passions and that is what drew me to the book. I am always amazed to meet people who have some unique passion. And I am always interested in how to support this idea in schools. Through reading this book, I did lots of reflection on not only my work with students but about myself and the current climate or our communities. A very thought-provoking book that I would highly recommend.

The premise for the book is this: "We need to create environments-in our schools, in our workplaces, and in our public offices-where every person is inspired to grow creatively. We need to make sure that all people have the chance to do what they should be doing, to discover the Element in themselves and in their own way."

I have been lucky to spend lots of my life doing things that I love. But I have worried for a while about the impact on our kids who have gone to school in this testing era. I worry that they leave high school without having a passion or an interest in something because they haven't had the opportunity to know the possibilities.

I feel like much of our work in schools should be about opening the possibilities for our students--letting them discover who they are and what is possible out there for them.

The Element helps us think through the issues of creativity. They book defines creativity as "the process of having original ideas that have value" Much of the book is spent examining creativity--what it is, why it is important, why standardized IQ tests miss so much about a person's intelligence.

Some of my favorite chapters of the book dealt with Tribes--connecting to others who see the world as you do. People who share your passions. I rely completely on the people who I can think with and I want the same for my students.

The authors share with us so many examples of people who have found their passion outside of school. The patterns of doing work they love and the impact on their life are so interesting. The end of the book focuses on implications for schools. We hear about several schools that value creativity and individuality. The authors argue for customized, rather than standardized education for our students. They state, "The stakes could hardly be higher for education and for all who pass through it."

This book is a must read. I imagine I will reread it soon. So much to think about as teachers and members of so many communities. How do we support each other in finding our individual voices that are so critical?


  1. You beat me. I am not finished reading it yet but I really like what I have read so far. We have a few staff members who have ordered it to read. I am hoping for some good conversations.

  2. Thanks for sharing this one. I can't wait to get a copy!

  3. This sounds really interesting. You know, I'm really thankful for my last three years of high school during which I was homeschooled. It really gave me freedom to explore some passions and learn what I wanted to pursue as a possible career. I really don't think I would be where I am (or maybe I should say, "who I am") without having that experience. I think it's so important for ALL students to have that kind of experience in their schooling.

  4. Increasingly, I find that the hour every week in which my students are free to explore their passions is their favorite -- and MINE! It took them a trimester or so (some longer, some shorter) to find their feet and run, but now, they lean into that hour all week. It's magic. I'd love to teach in a school where that magic was the norm, and not a stolen hour on Friday.

  5. I'd like to read this. Thanks for the review.


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