The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

For Love or Money

  • While some people are fortunate enough to find their Element in their job, many find it outside of work. Ken tells stories about people who practice their Element when the work day ends along with those to give up their jobs for ones that feature their Element. Of course there are also the lucky few who find their Element at work and during recreational activity. Studies of happiness show that happy people have more activities they enjoy and spend more time doing enjoyable things. Finding your Element form even part of your life may not make you richer, more famous, or more popular, it will, however, bring a new richness to your life.

Making the Grade

  • While education should be one of the main processes that helps people find their Element, it too often serves the opposite function. The hierarchy or disciplines and the value of conformity over diversity are part of the problem. Education reform is also going in the wrong direction. The No Child Left Behind legislation has caused 70% of school districts to cut or eliminate arts programs, and the focus on standardized testing discourages innovation and creativity. Endless test prep is boring. Tests can provide useful data to support education. The problem starts when tests become the focus rather than a tool. Education needs to be transformed, not reformed. It needs to be personalized, not standardized.

Fast Food or Michelin?

  • Ken sees that a lot of what is happening in education is analogous to the fast food model for restaurants where everything is standardized and the food often contributes to our current explosion of obesity and diabetes. What we need is something more like the Michelin model where criteria for excellence are specific and each restaurant tries to meet them as they see fit. The result is a terrific restaurant as judged by experts rather than a standardized meal. Instead we are strangling education with a culture of standardized testing. Learning is a personal process, especially if we are interested in moving students toward the Element.


  • If we discover the Element in ourselves and encourage others to find theirs, the opportunities for growth are infinite. If we fail to do that, we may get by, but our lives will be duller as a result. As Michelangelo once said, “the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Thanks for the inspiration Sir Ken.
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One Response to “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson”

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