On My Bookshelf: The Element

The Element

After reading this month’s book, “The Element” by Ken Robinson, I almost dropped out of college.

I was sitting in a communications class during my sophomore year at university when my professor posed a difficult question:

“Does education kill creativity?”

Wait, WHAT?!

Our barefoot, quirky professor asked us to go there…right in front of him…

In his classroom…where we were all in the process of getting our education.

Talk about AWKWARD.

He then pulled up a TED talk that our class watched together before continuing our discussion.

It’s called “Do schools kill creativity?”

After watching this inspirational and hilarious talk and listening to my professor and fellow students share their ideas around creativity and schools, I felt unsettled.

Have you ever noticed the hierarchy of subjects in schools?

Robinson’s argument that creativity within schools should be valued just as highly as any other subject (math, reading, science, etc.) really resonated with me.

I excelled in my drama classes, art classes, and English classes. I struggled with other subjects and sometimes felt like I was stupid, like I couldn’t keep up or I didn’t understand or pick concepts up as quickly as that one super smart boy who sat behind me.

But LET ME TELL YA, did I look forward to my creative writing class! And french class. And the high school theatre class where I practically ran onto the stage so I could run lines, learn choreography or do an improv exercise.

I came ALIVE in those classes!

So why were all the FUN subjects, the things that lit me up and came more effortlessly, the things that played to my strengths as a creative person, always treated as elective classes instead of offered every single day as a required course of study like math or science?

Everybody learns differently, so why does it sometimes feel like there’s a one-size-fits-all method when it comes to teaching young children and teenagers in our public education systems?

Maybe I would have aced my tests in pre-calculus if my teacher had let us take a walk outside to get some fresh air for a few minutes before starting class, or lit a candle at her desk during our quiet working time.

Or maybe I would have grasped concepts in chemistry more quickly if my teacher had helped me memorize the properties of elements by teaching us a song or by playing classical music quietly in the background.

Maybe I was much more intelligent than I thought I was, just not in the way that is valued most in schools.

Let’s Change the Way We View Intelligence.

Creative intelligence may just be the most valuable kind of intelligence of all.

You never know what you might discover about yourself as you cultivate and nurture your gifts and talents! Every other area of your life starts to improve when you’re in your element.

Though I can’t remember much of what I learned in that communications class, I’ll always be grateful that I discovered “The Element” during that transitory period of my life.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to live more fully in their creative element! One of my all time favorites!