I am currently taking a Small Business Creation class at school and I had the opportunity to choose from a long list of entrepreneurial books to read this semester. The book that caught my eye immediately was The Element How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica.
I like to read for leisure. Im quite slow at reading because I like to take my time and really read each word and grasp the content in each paragraph. I had just a couple of weeks to read this book and I must say by page three I had tears in my eyes and I thought to myself, oh no, this is going to take me forever to read. I found myself re-reading paragraphs and stories and principles, this book was delightful and exactly what I needed to read at this stage of my small business creation journey.
Ken Robinson is brilliant. He is British and has a great sense of dry humor with a dose of sarcasm. I like him. Hes an educator and speaker with an emphasis on finding creativity that is within each and every person. He firmly believes that each individual is unique and has something to offer society. By taping into the human creative that has been brushed aside in todays education system is the main focus of his books, goals and direction.
The Element starts out with one of many stories that really left an impression on me. The story of an eight-year-old girl who today would be labeled immediately with ADHD and prescribed medication. Her name was Gillian Lynne and she was continually getting in trouble at school because she couldnt sit still. Her issues became so bad that the school told her mother that she had a learning disorder and back in the 1930s, children with disorders were sent to special schools and this terrified Gillian.
Her mother decided to take her to a psychologist to get tested. They arrived at the doctors office and both mother and daughter went in to the room while the doctor spoke to Gillians mother and the entire time, he kept an eye on Gillian. The doctor then asked Gillian to wait in the room and he needed to speak to her mother outside. He played some music from the radio as they left the room and once they were outside the doctor asked her mother to wait and watch her through a window in his office. Gillian could not see them and immediately started dancing around the room to the music. The doctor also noted the joy that was on Gillians face as she swayed to the songs.
The doctor informed Gillians mother that she wasnt sick. She was a dancer! His prescription for Gillian was to enroll her in dance class. Gillians mother did what the doctor said, and Gillian said, I cant tell you how wonderful it was. I walked into this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldnt sit still. People who had to move to think.
Gillian never stopped going to dance class, in fact she was accepted in the Royal Ballet School in London, and travelled the world with the company. Later on, she started her own theater company and created productions with Andrew Lloyd Weber and worked on Cats and The Phantom of the Opera with him.
The current education system is challenged continuously throughout the book and for very good reason. The fact that schools throughout the world are cutting Art programs they dont deem important and focusing more on standardized testing is a shame and a scam. Its all about politics and making money instead of teaching and developing students passions.
I personally always felt so inadequate as a child going to school. I struggled with many of the subjects because they werent interesting to me. I certainly did not feel like I was in my element. I couldnt wait to graduate from high school and I went to college and obtained my Associates Degree. Now, thirty years later I am finally finishing what I started. A chapter in the book reminds us that its never too late and gives great examples of people late in life that accomplished amazing things. Julia Childs was almost fifty when she wrote her best-selling cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The Element reminds us there is still time, life-enhancing things can happen when we take the time to step out of our routines, rethink our paths and revisit the passions we left behind (or never pursued at all) for whatever reason. We have the capacity to discover the Element at practically any age. I intend to do just that.