Years ago, I read about a simple formula to get people to act on a problem. In your speech or essay, start off by stating the problem, move on to explaining the solution and finish off with an appeal to action. “The Element” by Ken Robinson (with Lou Aronica) accomplishes these three steps very effectively.

Robinson is an educator whose chief concern is the shortcomings of the education system. Although we may think that “education” only affects young people, everyone has been through some sort of education and much of who we are, and definitely what we do, is the result of our education. Robinson argues that too much creativity and individuality is lost precisely because of how we have been educated.

“The Element” gives plenty of examples of how educators have failed to see the potential of their students. Elvis Presley, for example, was denied admittance to his high school glee club because of his singing. These kinds of stories make us laugh, but ultimately they should make us cry. Elvis Presley managed to find his “element”, but many others never got a chance. Luckily, the book also tells the stories of people who did get someone who recognized what they were capable of doing.

Stories of success involving famous people can be inspirational, but they can also be depressing. “The Element” solves this problem by also showing ordinary people doing really well at things they are passionate about. I was especially intrigued by the stories of the “Pro-Ams”. Pro-Ams (short for profesional-amateurs) are people who do their hobbies at a professional level.

Robinson and Aronica have put together a book that is hard to put down and, at the same time, makes you want to put it down and go out and do something. “The Element” is a good book for educators, students, parents and anyone who is looking to get more out of life.


Title: The Element (How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything)

Author(s): Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica

Publisher: Viking

Year: 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-024047-8