Sunday, May 2, 2010

What I'm reading--The Element by Ken Robinson

My last post I talked about how I’ve taken a break from writing in order to re-evaluate and refresh.  I didn’t stop reading, though.  Truth is, I never stop reading.

One of the first conversations my wife had with my brother was about how I keep three or four books on the nightstand by my bed.  I'm usually reading all these books at various stages and my mood dictates which one I read that particular evening before I go to sleep.

The book I've been reading almost every night is Dr. Ken Robinson’s THE ELEMENT: How finding your passion changes everything. 
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything 
This book reexamines what we think of when we think of intelligence and creativity.  It has inspiring stories about how many creative and intelligent people found their passion and their “element” in their chosen fields, people like Matt Groening (Created or The Simpsons), Gillian Lynne (choreographer), Alan Ball (writer of American Beauty and Six Feet Under) and Richard Feynman (renowned physicist).  

It also examines the education system and the way we use outdated aptitude tests to gauge intelligence, like IQ tests or college entry exams like the SATs.  The issue with these tests is that they only test for certain aptitudes, not for all. 

I’m not knocking education because I do believe in good education (and have a mountain of college debt to prove it!).  But many of our bad habits and ingrained fears began early in school, when we're told what is “right” and what is “wrong” in order to promote conformity.  Thus begins our childhood desire to “fit in” and not be different.

Only later when we grow up do we realize that what makes us special, talented an unique are those very differences that teachers were trying to stamp out of us.

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