Brain Pickings

Sir Ken Robinson on How Finding Your Element Changes Everything

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What knowing the limits of knowledge has to do with finding the frontiers of creativity.

Sir Ken Robinson has previously challenged and delighted us with his vision for changing educational paradigms to better optimize a broken system for creativity.

In this wonderful talk from The School of Life, Robinson articulates the ethos at the heart of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything — one of 7 essential books on education — and echoes, with his signature blend of wit and wisdom, many of the insights in this indispensable collection of advice on how to find your purpose and do what you love.

Robinson seconds Stuart Firestein’s insight on the importance of ignorance in exploration and growth:

In our culture, not to know is to be at fault socially… People pretend to know lots of things they don’t know. Because the worst thing to do is appear to be uninformed about something, to not have an opinion… We should know the limits of our knowledge and understand what we don’t know, and be willing to explore things we don’t know without feeling embarrassed of not knowing about them.

Among Robinson’s many astute observations is also one about our socially distorted metrics of achievement, in line with Alain de Botton’s admonition about “success”:

It’s not enough to be good at something to be in your element… We’re being brought up with this idea that life is linear. This is an idea that’s perpetuated when you come to write your CV — that you set out your life in a series of dates and achievements, in a linear way, as if your whole existence has progressed in an ordered, structured way, to bring you to this current interview.

If you haven’t yet read The Element, do — it might just change how you relate to everything you do.

Thanks, Neil

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