Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book
I realy enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's book which is highly readable and talks about the concept of finding one's true calling in life (which he says, is the point at which one's talents overlap with one's highest passions - 'the Element'). This he does, through the telling of people's stories. It is inspiring stuff for those who want to believe the quote from Confucius - "If...
Published on 13 Mar. 2009 by Paul M. Clark

versus
95 of 99 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining speaker, very disappointing book
Having seen Ken Robinson's talks on TED, I felt motivated to check out his book. I found what he had to say was both entertaining and inspirational, and I felt inclined to find out more.

Well, what of the book? I can suppose why many people gave it 4 and 5 stars. We all enjoy a good story. I do, and at first I did genuinely find the stories interesting and...
Published on 1 Jun. 2010 by A. Monaghan


‹ Previous | 1 214 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book, 13 Mar. 2009
By 
Paul M. Clark (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I realy enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's book which is highly readable and talks about the concept of finding one's true calling in life (which he says, is the point at which one's talents overlap with one's highest passions - 'the Element'). This he does, through the telling of people's stories. It is inspiring stuff for those who want to believe the quote from Confucius - "If you enjoy what you do, you'll never work another day in your life". The book introduces the topic wonderfully although readers should be aware that there is little within the book about how to actually go about pursuing your dreams, although I am sure this was intentionally outside the scope of the book (for that I'd refer people to Marcus Buckingham's excellent book 'Go put your strengths to work' and his video podcast with Oprah which is free on iTunes).

My one gripe (which is minor), is that the stories are all about immensely successful people (e.g.Paul McCartney, Matt Groening) which are amazing but it might of been nice to see a few 'real people' stories where people successfully pursued their passions and found happiness but weren't necessarily world beaters. If anyone interested in the book hasn't yet seen Sir Ken's TED talk I'd thoroughly recommend that you view in on YouTube.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a self-help instruction manual!, 24 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Hi,

I'm writing this review because some people here seem to have bought it thinking it was a self-help manual. I guess the title is a little misleading.

What it is is a collection of anecdotes about people who have found their element - a passion for doing something that makes an hour feel like five minutes. To get an idea of what this book is about, do a web search for Ken Robinson. He's done two presentations for TED.com (Technology, Education and Design) and a fantastic animated presentation about our current education systems and the crisis that's been facing them for the past 30 or so years.

This book will give you marvellous insights what creativity is and into the lives and life-changing moments in creative people's lives. Just don't expect it to give you step by step instructions on how to find your element because there aren't any - everyone is different and everyone finds their element in a different way, sometimes by a very round-about route. If you understand this book, you'll know what you have to do.

I hope this helps! :)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


95 of 99 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining speaker, very disappointing book, 1 Jun. 2010
By 
A. Monaghan "anroo" (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having seen Ken Robinson's talks on TED, I felt motivated to check out his book. I found what he had to say was both entertaining and inspirational, and I felt inclined to find out more.

Well, what of the book? I can suppose why many people gave it 4 and 5 stars. We all enjoy a good story. I do, and at first I did genuinely find the stories interesting and inspirational, but here the author uses a story to put forward even the smallest idea. By the time I was half way through I felt myself getting weary. The point itself seemed lost.
But there aren't just success stories. There are other kinds of stories, some of which really seem like digressions for the sake of a story, until at last it arrives on a wispy point, a brief bridge before, god help me, another story. I'm sorry to say there's little substance to this.

I loved hearing the Author speak on TED and in this book he describes speaking as his personal 'element', he explains that when you're in your 'element', time seems to slow down. This could explain how he got the bulk of this 288 page book's message in to a 20 minute talk.

If you are happy to read lots of stories about people finding their inspiration, get this book. If you are looking to be pointed toward finding your own inspiration, don't bother.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


174 of 187 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of examples of natural-born talent - but no guidance on finding your own, 11 April 2009
By 
I have never written an Amazon review before - but I was so annoyed by this book and how little I got from reading it, that I was moved to write one. Ken Robinson is apparently "an internationally acclaimed leader in creativity and innovation" and I had big expectations that this book would yield some new insights on this topic. It absolutely didn't.
This book's sub-title is "how finding your passion changes everything". Chapter after chapter lists case studies, rather clunkily and poorly written, of people who were mostly born with natural talent and a calling in life. For example, we read about world-class snooker players, dancers, writers...all at the top of their profession and making money from it. But what about all the millions of others who have found their element - as an illustrator or novelist, for example, but just can't make a living from it. For every Meg Ryan (there's a case study about her in the book) there's thousands of unknown actresses who love what they do but can't make money from it or get recognition. In the case studies described in the book, most are famous and the seeds of their talent were obvious from the start and Ken Robinson tells us how marvellous their lives are now that they have found their "element" or what gives them their creative kicks in life. Trouble is that most people simply don't know what their "element" is - and they will be absolutely none the wiser after this. In fact, they will even be demoralised by how easily the case-studies he describes seemed to hook up with their personal "element". There's information on how the education should change to teach creativity, but no clues about how to find it if you are older. Or what to do if your element doesn't actually make you a decent living and you have to spend most of your time working as an estate agent, say, when what you'd really love to do is write novels. I read this from cover to cover and found it utterly disappointing. The whole idea stems from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of Flow. This is described in the book Flow: The pyshology of Optimal Experience, which is quoted in The Element and which you would be much better to buy instead of this rather disappointing book. At the end you are just left wondering at how lucky people are who are born with a natural gift that allows them to excel and achieve great fame in a field - and wondering where that leaves the rest of the population who muddle through. One of the most disappointing books I have read on the subject of creativity in a long time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly mediocre, 24 Mar. 2009
By 
Adam Knowles "Sapare aude" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is mostly a mishmash of disjunct storytelling ("yeah so, like, I was chatting to, like, PAUL MCCARTNEY the other day") with reheated self help ideas from other titles.

It shouts `But we could ALL BE DANCERS!', which I found annoying because I can't dance and I certainly can't draw. The future for each of us doesn't necessarily lie in us all becoming artists and artisans.

It has a good chapter on `Education'. Robinson is a keen promoter of reform and he makes a compelling case for change. The current system (in the West) was founded for an 18th century industrial society: a production line where the inputs are grouped arbitrarily into ages then educated en-masse, the bell going off on the hour every hour to keep the conveyer going, the curriculum strictly constrained, with QA testing at every stage, dumping adequate but mediocre skilled/qualified people off the end. He criticises the `hierarchy of subjects' with maths and english at the top and drama at the bottom. He says the system is inappropriate for the modern economy and society, that the way forward is student-centred learning, cross-pollination between subjects, the `re-professionalisation' of teaching - and most important the engagement with creativity to produce people that think for themselves and don't fit into a pre-defined set of boxes, where success is narrowly defined as academic ability in english and maths.

A readable book that provides some interesting insights, but padded out with too many unnecessary anecdotes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 'self-help' book for those, like me, who don't normally care for them..., 30 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am quite disgruntled by some of the negative comments made here about 'The Element'. Having now finished reading it myself I can only presume that those complaining approached the book with cynically and thus shouldn't have picked it up in the first place. Also some of these detractors entirely missed the point of 'The Element' and weren't paying much attention to what is actually being posited.

For those who honestly expected Ken Robinson to give them a step by step bespoke guide on how to find their personal element, something only the individual can do anyway, then it's no wonder they were disappointed. This is so unreasonable an expectation I am puzzled any rational adult could hope to get that from a single book.

I'm not normally a fan of the motivational/self-help genre. I think all too often they are guilty of that very American concept of the contrived maxim and cringeworthy pithiness. Being a Brit I expected Robinson to have a more down-to-earth, sincere approach and I wasn't disappointed. He gives as limpid and helpful a guide on navigating your way towards fulfillment through your God-given talents and passions as he can. I enjoyed his anecdotal style and found it made his suggestions a lot more likely to stick. Neither is he guilty of the casual name-dropping as accused by some. I suppose he liked to throw in familiar names amongst those not-so-familiar to make it easier for the reader to relate. He uses case studies of people from all walks of life,flourishing in all different sorts of disciplines, famous or otherwise, even leaving his own inspirational story till near the end of the book. He doesn't promise that finding one's 'element' will lead to untold riches; in fact he's quite clear in the chapter on amateur pursuits, that this isn't always the case. Money as the end goal or an indicator of fulfillment is far from the ethos of this book.

As has been mentioned a few times by other reviewers, Robinson makes some very eye-opening observations about the Western education system and how it inadvertently lets so many people down due to its one-size-fits-all modus operandi. He also makes some salient points about age discrimination and how it breeds misguided notions that cause people to needlessly abandon lifelong aspirations. I could go on and on. There are many things I took away from this book. Not all of it was groundbreaking or new but it consolidated so many good bits of advice I've received in the past and presented them in a succinct way with not a small dash of wit. I highlighted quite a few passages worthy of a re-visit.

My only real gripe with 'The Element' -a rather trivial one it might seem to some-is Robinson's insistence on using Americanisms. I know he's lived in the US for a while but he's a Brit, he still has traces of his Scouse accent and I don't expect him to say 'Math' instead of 'Maths', write 'practise' the noun as 'practice' the verb, or spell 'programme' any other way. Such concessions to the transatlantic assault on the English language peeved me, but then again it often does. I also think the last chapter could have been more brief.

These quibbles aside 'The Element' comes highly recommended for anyone serious about making the best use of their gifts, no matter how unspectacular they might seem.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea poorly presented, 2 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I greatly admire the thinking of Ken Robinson and his promotion of a culture of creativity in society (and education in particular). This book was bought by my partner as a gift for someone else but never given and so I decided to read it – especially as I am entering a new phase of my life now that I am in semi-retirement. However, while my own circumstances might be relevant, I was more interested in what this book might mean for younger people struggling to find their place in the world (as I don’t think I ever did really – and that is true for the so many of us).

My main criticism is that Ken concentrates in the first half of the book on the stories of people who eventually became well known (and usually overcoming many challenges in the process). This seems fairly standard stuff for many ‘self help’ or motivational books and is to be expected because authors have a ready-made research population amongst celebrities. It tends to turn me off though – I have no desire to be famous but still wish to find ‘my thing’. It is only later on in the book that Ken recognises that we might not all wish to be ‘successful’ or well-known or become a recognised leader in whatever field fuels our passion. I’m glad he did, otherwise I would have given this book a big thumbs-down.

Ken can’t help but also get on his soap-box about what’s wrong with ‘Education’. He attempts to make this relevant to the main theme by explaining why people don’t enjoy school (I didn’t) or do well academically, but he overdoes it a bit..

In fact the whole book is overdone in that it is about twice as long as it needs to be. This is a shame because he makes some really valid points which could actually help young people (I mean under-30’s) and parents, but the points are diluted by too many words. My advice? Get the book but skim read it. You’ll get the gist.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to actually find your passion, 19 Dec. 2011
Ken Robison is a great speaker and you should see his TED talks if you haven't already. A lot of people posting reviews of The Element love the stories but are left frustrated by not knowing how to go about finding this passion he describes so eloquently. I recommend First, Know What You Want - why goals don't work and how to make them as a practical handbook if you want a step by step process for discovering and following your passion. It has no stories, instead is a step-by-step guidebook to help you uncover what you really want from a number of different angles. It comes with a downloadable PDF full of exercises and would make the perfect companion to the inspiring stories in The Element. You should also look at You Can Have What You Want by Michael Neill.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a self-help manual (thank goodness), 7 Dec. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
How rare it is to read a book that inspires by example. Written with a light touch yet delivering a seriously important message, this book reveals and celebrates the art of creativity, not the science, and will appeal to readers who have a passion for life but need just an extra push to believe in themselves and take a small step into the unknown. Many other books on the subject of creativity emerge as 'self-help' manuals, offering a painting-by-numbers approach and delivering 'step-by-step' guidance on 'how to do it'(in my view, the antithesis of creativity). Robinson simply shows how a number of people have harnessed their creativity in different walks of life and been successful. The fact that he interviews successful people is important: it proves that pursuing a dream can lead to what some people to aspire to - a high-profile career in a field they love earning lots of money. But Robinson also makes it clear that people can be creative in many occupations and pursuits, and at many levels. He explains that, by harnessing their creativity to achieve personal goals (which may be very modest but nonetheless fulfilling), people come alive and experience the glow of living life to the full. The chapter on education made me weep (not for the first time) as to how far the UK sytem has fallen into the dangerous trap of using schools to train pupils to pass exams, rather than enabling them to explore and develop their interests and life options, and grow in the confidence they will need to reach out and grab what life has to offer. Whilst it would struggle to gain a 'C' grade if its purpose were to teach people how to be creative, this book deserves an 'A*' for the motivational impact it will have on anyone with a secret passion who would like that passion to take a more central place in their life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intruiging, demanding, ultimately inspiring, 4 May 2011
By 
Hugo Minney "hugie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
So it isn't too late - you can find your passion early in life (as some geniuses do), in the middle of your career (and many have), or after retirement. Ken Robinson gives examples of each.

OK, that's the "How" out of the way. But "Why" would you want to find your passion?
Here's where Ken is really in his "Element". As he says, it really does "change everything". I run my own business, and I believe that I already do what I love. But reading these inspirational stories, and running through my self-inventory, has made me reappraise. Actually, I enjoy programming MS Excel, even though I've told myself for years that it is something I used to do and moved on from. So I went out and found a job requiring some Excel programming, and it felt like a holiday! (it also paid well).

But this isn't a self-help book with loads of exercises that you have to work through - it is a book to be enjoyed and to be inspired by. It's only demanding because as you read it you will ask of yourself "How does this apply to me?"

It also makes a good gift, to anyone who seems unhappy in their job, to the recently retired who feel a bit aimless, to people struggling in an age of austerity, and of course to young adults in school, wondering what the future holds. Give it, and read it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 214 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews