There is simply no better way to absorb worthwhile information than from a great book. I knew I was onto something with this book when I saw some of the people who took the time to write a couple of sentences of praise on behalf of author Ken Robinson's work. They included Howard Gardner and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (don't try to pronounce it; I have been trying for years).
Now Howard Gardner is the man who runs Project Zero at Harvard. He is also a two time recipient of the MacArthur Genius award. His impact on our country and the world has been massive. I suggest you read anything that writes, anything. This is the man who developed the theory of multiple intelligences. Then you have Csikszentmihalyi who came up with the concept of FLOW. The state in which you are so passionately involved in a project, time is just flying by, you are in a peak experience as Abraham Maslow use to say. For these two giants (read all their books by the way) to write words of praise told me this book is going to be something special. I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.
About one in every 100 books I read is truly special, impactful, worthy of remembrance, and re-reading. "Out of Our Minds" is one of those rare books. You read it, and you feel the author's energy surging from the book and into your mind. You will be transformed, and you must re-visit this narrative from time to time. You will be sorry when it's over, because you will want more. Everyone should read this book, and each of us will benefit from every page.
What it's about
In ten chapters and 286 pages, Robinson takes us through the world of CREATIVITY, a skillset that the author believes we are all born with, but then it gets shunted aside in our young lives while the school systems attempt to commoditize us (successfully too) into their preconfigured concepts of who and what we should become. It is Robinson's contention that we all have incredible potential for living creative lives both on a personal level and in our chosen course of work. What's more, he believes that it is this quality; the quality of acting in creative ways that will save us as a society and allow us to prosper as opposed to the regimentation that society puts us through.
He wants us to understand just how much creative ability we have in our souls, and he wants us to access it. He wants corporations to slow down in their path of creating corporate armies, and instead to become creative organizations where a whole new set of conditions will exist. These conditions will foster people in their attempt to flourish, and as he say to promote a creative revolution in this country. His discussion of the Pixar Corporation and their in house university which allows all employees to study any subject they desire that is taught within the corporation is worth the price of the book by itself. Pixar also allow their employees to take 4 hours of their workweek and convert to to Pixar University time.
In the first parts of the book, Robinson takes us on a tour de force of world history and creativity. This for me is where the book positively excels. For those of us who are big time readers, it simply does not get any better than this part of the book. He's giving us John Kenneth Galbraith, Picasso, Einstein, Edison, Shakespeare, Johannes Gutenberg, Sir Frances Bacon, Jean Piaget, H.G. Wells, and probably a 100 more. He then takes us on a history of the world including pre-industrial societies, the Industrial Revolution, and the Information Society we are currently in. There is not a single page of this book that I found boring, and that is really saying something.
The Man's Mind is Unique
How often do you come across a book which you find absolutely fascinating. This is a book that you can't wait to get back into when you put it down, if you can put it down at all. When you get into Our of Our Minds, you will find yourself reading something that will jolt you into a new perspective, where you can say, give me more? I want to leave you with a few ideas and thoughts that are spread through this narrative, what I think are nuggets, diamonds really, that perhaps will motivate you to see what I saw in this remarkable book:
* The education system in this country was completely modeled on the needs of the Industrial Revolution which is based on linearity, conformity and standardization. People therefore need to RECOVER from their educations in order to become more creative.
* The financially led 2008 recession was caused by credit and asset bubbles that caused over-consumption and then blew into a recession. We are still paying a price that will take years to work out of.
* Humans believe that we can live separate and apart from nature - we cannot.
* In 1950, the average American traveled 5 miles per day. Ten years ago, it was 30 miles per day. In ten years (2020), it will be 60 miles per day.
* A digital wrist watch today has more computing power than the spaceship Neil Armstrong used to land on the moon.
* There is a thorough discussion of Nano-technology and robotics and how it will change the world in the coming decades.
* In this country we consider a decade to be a long time. In England a century is a long time, and in China you have to think in terms of a thousand years before it is considered a long time. This is actually ingrained in our thinking.
If you want a laugh try this one. Robinson tells us that the primary purpose of economic forecasting is to make astrology look repsectable. He is quoting John Kenneth Galbreith. I believe this book will impact your life, and change the way you think and reflect on yourself. You will make decisions about the way you want to spend the rest of your life. You will reflect as to whether or not what you have been doing with your time is truly worthwhile, and you will come away the better for it. This is that rare book that you do not gently put down when it is over. You will have to come back to it; you simply cannot ignore its contents. Thank you for reading this review.
Richard C. Stoyeck