I have always been a little bit of a fan of Ken Robinson following watching the Changing Paradigms video on YouTube. As such I had high expectations of “The Element”.
Compared to some of my recent reading including The Black Swan by Naseem Taleb and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, Ken Robinsons The Element is extremely easy to read and accessible.
A lot of the ideas within the changing paradigms video are apparent within the Element along with some new ideas. I was particularly interested in the discussion of intelligence within the book. I particularly liked the question of “how are you intelligent” as a preferable alternative to “how intelligent are you”. This very much aligns with my ideas in relation to assessment and particularly standardized assessment. Such assessment measures a specific set of skills or attributes and therefore could be considered to test only a single or limited set of intelligences. This therefore can lead to some pupils being considered of lesser intelligence when in fact the issue is that the testing measures being used just don’t measure the intelligence or intelligences the students possess.
I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed The Element was the central premise of the book, that great things can be achieved where a persons area of aptitude aligns with an area of passion. I currently find myself as Director of IT and looking back on my career I see a big part of this being a result of my interest and enjoyment in IT. Throughout my career and even during my youth I experimented with IT, trying new things just because it was fun. It also turned out that I had a bit of an aptitude for it. As such although I dont believe I have achieved great things I believe I have achieved well as a result of being lucky enough to find my “Element”.
The key thing I take from, which is a similar message to that found in Drive by Daniel Pink, is our need as educators to try and assist and support students in finding their passion, their “Element”.