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Ken Robinson, ever the consummate promoter of educational innovation and creativity in the modern times, challenges us to rethink our view of what it means to think outside the box. He describes a world where corporate, political and institutional agendas increasingly define the ability to use our natural abilities, intuitions, and skills as a commodity they control simply by imposing national and regional standards. Those who make the grade are those who exhibit the right amount of intelligence, the proper aptitude, and the capacity to complete the task as assigned. In a world of ever-changing technology, new advances in research and expanding markets, we have, as a civilization, locked ourselves into accepting academic achievement as the exclusive standard for measuring creative success. While that might be a convenient way for society to determine who its ablest and best are in the competitive worlds of business and science, it doesn't begin to address the incredible, untapped creative power that exists out there in the public square. Instead of continuing to concentrate on a classical definition of the mind, as reflected in metrics like intelligence-quotient and mastery, Robinson believes we should explore the many other forms of human intelligence that represent both the unorthodox and the interrelated aspects of our lives: emotional, social, artistic and athletic to name a few. We are who we are because we have the potential to bring to bear on any specific circumstance an incredible imagination and intelligence that offers a better way of doing things. History is full of stories of great and ordinary thinkers, artists, inventors, and designers who chose to see the world using a different mindset. We should not continue to see our lives as being limited to the old factory model of completing a specific task effectively within a specific amount of time to a preset standard of competency. A results-driven culture should give way to a reward-based ethic that encourages individuals to "create, to take risks, to fail or ask questions, to strive and to grow". His biggest challenge is directed at the public school system that seems to refuse to lead this kind of progressive initiative that puts the real needs of students first: the right to constructively develop their creative powers. Too often, a dangerous mental imbalance occurs when other human intelligences are left undeveloped such as our ability to socially interrelate with others. If there is weakness in this inspiring book it might be Robinson's lack of concrete examples as to how this holistic vision is taking hold globally. I would have liked to have seen his views on the Finnish model for innovative education that everyone seems to be raving about today.
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This is a "New Edition, Fully Updated" of a book first published in 2001. Why a second edition? As Ken Robinson explains in his Preface, "...the first reason is that so much has happened since [2000], both in [begin italics] the [end italics] world and in [begin italics] my [end italics] world...The second reason for this new edition is that I now have more to say about many of the core ideas in the book and what we should do to put them into practice...The third reason is, not only has the world moved on in the last ten years, I have too. Literally."

Robinson responds to three separate but related questions:

o Why is it essential to promote creativity?
o What is the problem?
o What is involved?

Throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, Robinson develops and explores three separate but interdependent themes: “We are living in times of revolution"; "If we are to survive and flourish we have to think differently about our own abilities and make the best use of them"; and, "In order to do so we have to run our organizations and especially our education systems in radically different ways.”

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye:

"The evolution of the Internet has been driven not only by innovations in technology but also by unleashing the imaginations and appetites of millions of users, which in turn are driving further innovations in technology." (Page 41)

"Current systems of education were not designed to meet the challenges we now face. They were developed to meet the needs of a former age. Reform is not enough; they need to be transformed." (49)

"All truth passes through three stages;
First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer (81)

"When people find their medium, they discover their real creative strengths and come into their own. Helping people to connect with their personal creative capacities is the surest way to release the best they have to offer." (139)

"Being sensitive to oneself and to others is a vital element in the development of the personal qualities that are now urgently needed, in business, in the community and in personal life. It is through feelings as well as through reason that we find our real creative power. It is through both that we connect with each other and create the complex, shifting worlds of human culture." (196)

"Creating a culture of innovation will only work if the initiative is ked from the top of the organization. The endorsement and involvement if leaders means everything, if the environment is to change." (219)

"Creativity is not about alack of constraints; often it is about working within them and overcoming them. The dynamics of culture are such change travels in all directions. With the power of the Internet and of social networking, ideas and innovations can move quickly and inspire others to action. Sensitive policy makers will feel the change and may even say it was their idea." (266)

There have been hundreds (thousands?) of books and articles published in recent years that explore one or more aspects of creativity. What differentiates Robinson's book from all them are the scope and depth of focus on how and why to think differently about learning to be creative in [begin italics] all [end italics] domains of human experience. While reading and then re-reading this book, I was reminded of Walt Whitman's assertion in Song of Myself:

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"

As he also does in an earlier book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Ken Robinson urges those who read his latest book to think creatively about who they are ("large") and how they will explore and develop all dimensions of their humanity ("multitudes"). Moreover, especially to those with direct and frequent contact with children, he affirms the importance of helping others to do so. May reason guide and passion drive these noble initiatives.
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on December 6, 2011
This book offers an interesting perspective on how we are all born creative but are schooled out of that creativity as we age. Robinson has written a scholarly text in an easy-to-read style that speaks of our culture's attitudes towards creative endeavours. A must-read for educators and a fascinating read for all.
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on January 15, 2016
Good read so far. Received yesterday and I am a number of pages in. This book (hard cover) was basically only a few dollars more than the eReader version, so that is reason I bought it.
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on October 20, 2012
A great read, with many fascinating insights. Builds on The Element, with a more expansive discussion concerning the state of education in society. Worth the price.
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on October 25, 2015
Book came perfectly as described. Not exactly my favourite book in the world, but I needed it for school, and Amazon has the best price by far.
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on November 6, 2011
Sir Ken Robinson writes his thoughts, theories, passions, and insights with such clarity that I found this read to be downright inspirational. What has been happening in the school systems for the past half century with regard to 'cultivating creativity' in our young ones is shameful. In the 1960s, when I was a grade school student, Music and Art were part of the elementary school curriculum. It was also my favourite time of the school day. We had award winning school bands, orchestras and choirs as well, and performed a musical and a play every year; all this at the K-6 grade level! You would be hard pressed to find that in any public school today.

It is my hope that educators, administrators, and especially politicians! read Sir Ken's book, listen to his lectures and begin to think differently about innovation and the creative mind -- especially with regard to fostering that creativity from day one. For my part, I'm going to pass this book on so that others can be inspired, as I was, by its content and vision.
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on January 12, 2015
Good read but many repeated stories from The Element
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on April 12, 2016
i would recommend this
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on February 19, 2013
Having viewed this author on TED talks I was hoping for more, but that always seems to be the case with these guys. Definitely a salesman at heart!
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