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Publisher's Summary

The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves, most inspired, and achieve at their highest levels.

The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people: Paul McCartney; The Simpsons creator Matt Groening; Meg Ryan; Gillian Lynne, who choreographed the Broadway productions of Cats and The Phantom of the Opera; journalist Arianna Huffington; renowned physicist Richard Feynman; and many others, including business leaders and athletes. It explores the components of this new paradigm: the diversity of intelligence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of commitment to our own capabilities.

With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the Element and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier and that once we have found our path, we can help others do so as well. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the 21st century.

©2008 Ken Robinson, Ph.D; (P)2009 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Motivating and persuasive, this entertaining and inspiring book will appeal to a wide audience." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Element offers life-altering insights about the discovery of your true best self." (Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Listening to Sir Ken

Like many I was first exposed to Ken Robinson from this TED talk. The Element is another book that should be read by leaders and passed around to work groups. It covers much of the same ground as Tribes, or Marcus Buckingham's work on Finding Your Strengths (which I use extensively in my graduate consulting course), but Robinson superior style and engaging personality make his work both enjoyable and always edifying. Where Robinson is at his best is where he makes connections with how our education system impedes students from finding their passions. At the same time, I wished for a deeper dive into our education system (particularly post-secondary education), and for a specific critique (grounded in history and political economy) for how our schools can hinder creativity. You will come away from this book even more depressed about our manic focus on testing, and even more committed to enabling the passions in your colleagues and children.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Samantha
  • CHICAGO, IL, United States
  • 04-02-12

Not Great

What disappointed you about The Element?

The Element is anecdotal, a series of stories with the same outcome. If you want interesting tidbits about a wide variety of well-known people (Arianna Huffington, Matt Groening, etc.) then you will enjoy this book. Unfortunately I expected some actionable items or thought-provoking ideas. About a third of the way through the book I grew tired of the stories and wanted more elaboration but there was very little forthcoming. A disappointment after watching and enjoying Robinson's TED talks.

39 of 41 people found this review helpful

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College professor lecture

He explains that he was forced to write this book because of comment he made at a dinner engagement. That and his college professor comes out when he takes 3 chapters of good information and stretches it tediously out to create a book. He has about an hour of really fantastic information and ideas, and the rest is boring filler. I have seen him on TED, and when limited to a short period of time, he is very enlightening! For this book, I felt like I was back in the lecture hall of a mandatory class.

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Boulder, CO, United States
  • 12-29-12

Could be under comedy

Any additional comments?

Just a great book that everyone should read. If you have teenagers moping about with little direction or worse you are a parent driving your children to achieve something - you should read this.<br/><br/>I'm glad Ken Robinson also narrated this. In fact its hard to see how anyone could have got across his dry wit. There are some very funny segments in this book. As well as some very moving ones.<br/><br/>The Element is actually a simple premise. It is explained clearly with some really good stories.<br/><br/>My missing star is explained by the fact that too many of the examples came from the arts. To be completely compelling I think a more diverse set of people and their "element's" are needed.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Gene
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 08-10-11

Looking for meaning in your life?

Are you making lots of money but still feel like you're not doing anything significant in your life? Did you just graduate high school and not sure which major to take or if you should even go to college? Are you midway in college and feel like you're not in the right place? Then this book is for you. Or, if you're just feeling empty in general, listen to the audiobook.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Heidi
  • Springville, UT, United States
  • 12-05-12

Wonderful narration, fascinating ideas

Any additional comments?

The Element is a fascinating book that is excellently narrated by the author, Ken Robinson. <br/><br/>The beginning part that talked about education was particularly interesting to me as I am studying to be a teacher. Robinson also discussed facets of finding your Element, like finding your "Tribe" that were very interesting. The book isn't really a self-help guide that necessarily leads you to find your own Element, but it helps you understand the concept around finding your Element and provides encouragement and hope that it's possible. Frankly, I'm glad the book didn't purport to be a one size fits all guide to finding your passion. That is a unique journey for every individual and can't be prescribed; that's point, that it's different for everyone. Robinson introduced ideas about creativity and finding your passion and gave examples of what has worked for some individuals. <br/><br/>Robinson describes a number of people who have found their "Element" or passion in life. Most of the examples focused on famous people like John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Arianna Huffington, Bob Dylan, etc. I found the occasional stories about "normal" people refreshing as well as the discussion on the dedicated amateurs - people who find their Element in something other than their profession. I realize that it's easy to find examples of individuals finding the Element when they become famous, because everyone knows about them. It felt a little one sided as a result, almost as if you have to be famous to find your element. I don't think that was Robinson's intention, and I realize it's hard to find individual stories from non-famous people, because you don't know about them.<br/><br/>Overall I loved the book and found it very thought provoking. It was a wonderful read/listen and I would highly recommend it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Grant
  • NANTUCKET, MA, United States
  • 09-24-11

Essential reading for parents and teachers

Ken Robinson has done the education world a huge favor by writing this book. He deftly outlines the reasons and ways that education has to change. The sooner we do it, the better. Reading the Element made me glad both of my children attend untraditional, progressive schools that live by the basic tenets of Robinson's philosophy. Great teachers everywhere will agree.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Stick with it, it's worth it!

The early chapters, while interesting and well read, were all stuff I had heard before. But the last chapter...well, THAT's worth FIVE stars.

I am a high school librarian and I have been struggling to find a new vision as I enter my 20th year of teaching, and worry about my grandchildren's future. Between our failing economy, potential climate change and the new "free" culture of the Internet I have been finding it difficult to see where we are heading. The last chapter of this book helped me see a potential direction. Thank you for helping me RE-find my 'element' Ken!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Happier

I am a teacher. Last year, I attended the funeral of a student. At what point do we stop cramming test prep and provide the fertile ground necessary for kids (and teachers) to do what they love and to thrive? It does no good to strive to meet the expectations of others when their expectations are miles off the mark.

Poetry, music, drama, art, discovering the beauty of science, the mind of the cartoonist, the depths and the universality of math. There's so much joy in being alive and in learning.

It's vital to bring that to life in class.

Thank you for this book, Ken Robinson.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • West Hartford, CT, United States
  • 11-27-12

A book everyone should read.

This is a book I am ready to start handing out at airports, as it eloquently articulates some of the fundamental socioeconomic issues of the Western World (particularly the US) due to our failing school system. He explains the problem is systemic — the entire schema of teaching in a top-down, industrialized, mass-production model that is so focused on teaching content is outmoded and irrelevant for today's economy, never mind tomorrow's. Educating kids in a way that is relevant and effective for them requires us to teach to the individual, not a standardized test — teaching them how to become life learners in areas that play to their strengths is the key.

The fact that he reads this himself adds a great deal, as he is a great speaker. Also hilarious.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Lee
  • 05-12-14

Feels slow and a bit dated but ....

Firstly the book doesn't feel as 'electric' as the TED talks that bring most of us here to buy this book. The content is still very good, but the pace is slow and you forever want to give Sir Ken the hurry up. Given Sir Ken's reading i would say that i didn't get the feel that creating an audiobook about his passion/Element was indeed his Element.

I found the book to be insightful and seems to have enthused me listening to it more than it did him reading it.

There are sections of the recording that seem to have been re-recorded at a later stage. The sound and levels are quite different and when you're concentrating on listening these tend to jar and break concentration.

I would recommend the book but if there was a revision on some data and events used (Lance Armstrong is not longer a hero embracing his Element) , then i'd gladly revisit the book and it would be on my must read list rather than a recommended list.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Conrad
  • 05-27-12

Amazing

I've listened to it over and over. It is not just the writing that makes this book so informative and entertaining, but also the delivery and the readers' voice. He has such an engaging way of speaking that it really draws you in. I've listen to this five times, and I probably will listen 5 times more.
Such a shame his new book is not narrated by him!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • John-Paul Lane
  • 09-27-17

Excellent.

Thought provoking and extremely well delivered, Ken provides an elaboration and exploration of his famous TED talk. Compulsive listening. Will listen to this again and again and try to practice the advice he espouses so that I too might find my element.

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  • bill
  • 08-14-17

a must read for everybody interested in education

witty and well paced, Sir Ken' s ideas and observations are becoming a household topic as we all start to accept that our current education system and it curriculum is far out dated and restrictive, so many solutions and new ways of thinking are addressed in this book. this is a MUST READ!!

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  • Em
  • 07-12-16

clear thoughts on a tough subject

Sir Ken makes clear points. Athis book touches me as a mother, an educator and on a personal growth level.

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  • Wicked
  • 06-09-16

Just Brilliant

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. Every parent, teacher and anyone with an interest in education should listen to this.

What does Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

It makes such a big difference being read by Ken Robinson. He has a wonderful tone that draws you in and brings the words to life.

Any additional comments?

This book beautifully explains why our education system is so broken and what needs to happen to put it right. It focusses on what really matters, what children really need in order to succeed and how happiness drives success, not the other way around.<br/>Brilliant, insightful and fascinating.

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  • livvster
  • 05-10-16

Thought provoking and beautifully read

I have been in my element reading "The Element'. It is beautifully written and easy to listen to.

I particularly enjoyed the funny anecdotes; the honesty of the author and the links to the education system which made me reflect on my own children and what I can do to help them to find their element.

Whilst most of the people Robinson refers to in the book are well known and highly successful, he left me feeling "all fired up" and that we can all achieve anything when we find our element.


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  • Richard Jones
  • 01-13-16

Fantastically insightful and inspirational.

A wonderful literary contribution to the world. Thank you Ken Robinson. A beautiful combination of humour, wit, fact, reason and insight in a creative expression of humanity's ailings and a astute reminder that the answers to these are within us all, if only we dare to look. Appropriate for everyone and anyone.

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  • Emre Onur Bülbül
  • 12-02-15

Enlightening

Where does The Element rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is number 1 and will remain so

What about Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica ’s performance did you like?

The humorous style and clear English

Any additional comments?

This is an extraordinary book, surely most beneficial to teachers from a pragmatical perspective but it is equally valuable for parents or even professionals who question what they do every day and trying to make sense of their lives. I recommend this book it is easy to follow and understand and very relative to our modern disconnected lives.

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  • Alan
  • 12-02-15

Ken Robinson in his element

Would you consider the audio edition of The Element to be better than the print version?

Whilst I have not read the print version, to hear Ken Robinson deliver his material in his passionate yet humorous style brings the content to life for me.

What did you like best about this story?

I always enjoy the case studies, stories and examples that Robinson uses to deliver his message. The style and approach does not come across as a "tell" approach, or a number of tactics that you should apply, but more a strategic overview and understanding.

Have you listened to any of Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have listened to Ken Robinson before and enjoy his approach, style and delivery. He has a great way of getting an important message across in a light hearted and humorous way.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Listening to this book certainly inspired me to reflect and review on my approach to my work, hobbies and interests and how I fill my days. I have already been making positive changes.