This past Friday, I preseented a synopsis of the wonderful book the Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Ph.D. I have a few comments on the book, and a reflection on the morning at the First Friday Book Synopsis.
First, the book. It is a really good read! This book is a “feel good” book, that challenges one deeply. You feel good because Robinson tells story after story of a person who had been overlooked, unfulfilled, a little “lost,” until he or she found just the right path. The stories were numerous: Richard Branson, Paul McCartney (Robinson is British, and probably a little partial to other Brits), the billiards great Ewa Lawrence, and many others. In many cases, our “normal” educational system had failed to see and feed a student’s potential. In fact, far too often, potential had been practically squashed. The book is challenging because it calls into questions our basic assumptions about just what we should be “teaching” in our schools. He argues passionately for a new understanding regarding what is truly important (with “creativity” at the top of his list). It is a provocative and useful set of questions to ponder. By the way, you can watch the video of his terrific presentation from the TED conference, Do Schools Kill Creativity? at the TED video site here.
Now, here is my favorite line in the book. Elvis Presley was rejected for his school’s glee club. Here is what Robinson wrote: “they said his voice would ruin their sound… We all know the tremendous heights the glee club scaled once they managed to keep Elvis out.” This man is a witty writer!
Second, the event. We are in our 12th year of the First Friday Book Synopsis. Karl Krayer and I have presented synopses of well over 250 books in the 11+ years we have been meeting. On May 1, we had our largest number of participants ever — 128 people. I asked one person why he thought it had grown to such a number, and he said: “everyone is looking for a job.” That may be true, and networking is certainly a critical factor — never more so than in this challenging time in our economy.
But another participant said this (this is a slight paraphrase — I did not record her comments): “I’m not usually a morning person. But I come to this, and I really feel like I learn important information from two good books. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I attend.” I think that may be a key part of the secret of this event. It really does provide a lot of really helpful and useful material in a very short, compact time frame. Yes, people feel like they have accomplished something important by attending the First Friday Book Synopsis.
So – to all who make this a success, thank you. I hope we provide you with that important sense of accomplishment.