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The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything - Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica - Book Summary

The element is the intersection between what you love doing (one’s passion) and what you are good at (one’s aptitude). This is the place people are feeling energized, happy, being their true selves and achieve great things.

People that find their element usually talk about a revelation - a moment when it all clicked. They feel lucky to have found it.  “Finding the Element is essential to a balanced and fulfilled life”

Unfortunately, not everyone finds their element. This is partially because that our education system is focusing on very specific subjects and the people that are not good at those subjects - feel they are “stupid” or incapable - when in fact they are amazing in some field and they just don’t know it or feel that their field is not “important” like math or science are in the school system. Some people are dancers, storytellers, musicians - and they might not do well at school - although they can change the lives of millions around the world with their art or abilities.

In a similar way - we should not think of ourselves as “creative” or “smart”, and the right question instead of “how smart are you” is “how are you smart” - people are smart in different ways, and in the same way, creative in different ways - each of us can do something unique and amazing if we find our own element.

Finding one’s element might sometimes require one to find one’s crowd (tribe) - like-minded people that can fertilize idea’s or skills of members in the group in certain fields and help one grow one’s talent.

Another important element in finding one’s element is mentoring. It might be accurate to say that it is very hard to find your element without this one person who identifies the spark in your eyes and help you find your element or point you to the right direction. You might have more than one mentor, and the relationship can be short or long with any such mentor - but this person can play a crucial role in getting you to your element. One can also find his element mentoring others and grow many talents in different fields.

Each of our experiences is very different, and sometimes our unique knowledge in two different subjects can help us create something unique and amazing - by making the connection between the fields.

Many times finding your element requires you to overcome different barriers - One’s element is not always accessible where one is located, or in one’s culture and in some cases one should overcome pressures from their friends and family in order to fully reach their element (“you need a real profession”, “you can’t make money out of this”, etc).

You will know if you are in your element because when you are doing it - you lose track of time, and you feel connected to yourself.

It’s never too late to find your element. Sometimes people in their 60 and 70 find their true passion and create their greatest work. Because our brain is plastic, we can learn new things very late in life.

“Discovering the Element is all about allowing yourself access to all of the ways in which you experience the world, and discovering where your own true strengths lie.”

The education system should help us find our element, not be in our way of finding it. The way to do it is to change the metaphors we use to refer to child development - not as linear or mechanic - instead, we should see it as organic - and like an organism - we should only provide it with the proper environment to grow by itself so it can flourish. Then we should transform the education system - We should focus on showing teachers how to teach and reward great teachers. We should make learning fun, and instead of teaching subjects - we should use multi-discipline lessons that are focused on the child's interests and give the child motivation for learning, let teacher mentor students - and most of all - we need to stop making a subject hierarchy in schools, and consider all fields as equals. We should use standardized tests as a tool and not an objective. We already see that schools that are working this way like the Reggio schools are achieving better results and still keep students happy and engaged and this element guided education system can help more children find their element and provide more satisfaction to teachers, students, parents, and in their communities and better prepare us to a new world.


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