The Element by Ken Robinson challenges both individuals and the public education system to realize the importance of creativity and its role in the modern world. Creativity doesn’t just refer to arts and crafts, but rather a mode of independent thinking and problem solving. Every individual has specialized talent and they often get sidelined by standardized curriculum and the daily grind.
Robinson believes its time to wake up and realize the value of understanding individual intelligence on every level. The Element is defined as finding your niche both personally and professionally in order to lead a life that has meaning on both of those levels. The idea of a fulfilling life extends beyond the standards of what we define as “success.” Success is a relative term and we might want to consider changing what it means to us as a society. Imagine how the world might change if everyone got the chance to discover their true talents whether it be math, engineering, art, dance, writing, singing, drawing, forensics, etc.
However, Robinson makes an interesting point that being in your element doesn’t always translate to a career. Sometimes, being in your element simply creates balance between professional responsibilities and free time. For example, maybe someone is a cashier by day and a painter by night. Essentially, finding your element can provide meaning no matter how it is implemented in your life.
The problem is current public education system provide few opportunities (or none at all) for people to discover their true talents. We are in an era that needs creative independent thinkers, but as it stands education is drowning in a sea of standardized testing. Teachers are bound to teaching to tests that fail to include a wide variety of intelligences. In a sense, we are trapping our society into one mode of thinking. Now that isn’t to say standardized testing should be abolished — it does have its purpose — but our reliance on it to define and pigeonhole intelligence has overrun the education system. They key here is to find a balance between accountability and helping people figure out their true talents. As Robinson puts it, we shouldn’t be asking, “How intelligent are you?” Instead, the question should be, “How are you intelligent?”
Are you in your element?