Ken Robinson’s “The Element” is a good read, though not as authentic as his previous book, “Our of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative”, probably because he has enlisted the services of a co-author, Lou Aronica, and their two voices don’t seem to mesh very well. Aronica has also rehashed Robinson’s previous book in the first two chapters, which is annoying if you have read it. But the heart of the book is a set of compelling stories of successful artists and businesspeople who were thwarted at school and found their “element”, “flow” or “zone” through mentors who helped them develop their passions.

Aside from the pleasure of reading tales of celebrities such as Paul Macartney, Mick Fleetwood and Richard Branson, the book provided me with two major insights. First, the fact that both Lewis Terman of Stanford who devised the Stanford-Binet IQ test, and Carl Brigham, the inventor of the SAT, were actively involved in the eugenics movement.

Second, Robinson’s conclusions on the implications for education policy of his findings.

  1. eliminate the existing hierarchy of subjects and acknowledge that arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, language and math all have equal and central contributions to make to a student’s education.
  2. replace the idea of “subjects” with “disciplines” to build a curriculum which is more fluid, dynamic and interdisciplinary
  3. personalize the curriculum in order to allow students to move towards their “element”.