I know I've been a bit quiet lately, other than posting my comics. I was reading a book I requested from the library. I'm not the fastest reader, so if it is something I'm really interested in, I try to finish it before it is due. I've had too many books that had to be returned without renewal because there were more holds on them.
Anyway, this weekend I finished reading The Element by Sir Ken Robinson. The book is a wonderful extension of his lecture in the TED talks series. I intend to buy a copy of it to share with my family and to highlight and dog ear and write notes in the margins. It is that good.
The Element is about finding your passion (or passions). It is about living a more meaningful life by finding what you are meant to do and doing it. The book is filled with anecdotes from people who are doing what they love, either as their chosen profession or as a hobby, and living happier lives because of it. Through these stories, Ken Robinson instructs his readers about how to find their own element, as well as the obstacles to the element. Of particular interest for me was the section on standardized tests. I live in an area where high stakes testing and SAT prep courses are the norm. I was recently pointed to this article in the NY Times (HT Malia Li'i Kula) which shows a disturbing trend toward testing 3 and 4 year olds. I have always looked down upon testing but tend to be in the minority about it. Robinson's history of the IQ test and the SAT affirmed my opinion and I now feel well armed for my next debate on this issue. Aside from my usual concerns about undue stress caused from overtesting, I can point out how Alfred Binet, one of the creators of the IQ test, designed the test "exclusively to identify children with special needs so they could get appropriate forms of schooling."
Relating this book to my own life, I know I have been lucky to have many opportunities to follow my element, even as my Element kept shifting and changing. I have always been an artist, drawing on whatever scrap of paper was available (even the margins of my school notes) but my art also traveled into the realms of performance when I started juggling. I followed this new passion to a juggling club in the city (finding your tribe is important for nourishing your Element). This led me to my soulmate, and then to becoming a mother, which I believe was another significant Element for me. Homeschooling satisfied my teaching passions and led me to a new group of artists within the homeschooling community. And all of this led me back to my artistic roots as I began my comic strip on homeschooling.
Robinson's writing is always engaging and often so funny I was reading parts of the book out loud. It is a hopeful and enjoyable read. As homeschooling parents, I believe we have better opportunities to discover our children's Element and to help them follow their passions. A fulfilling life: what a wonderful gift to give to our children!