It’s the end of the year, and hopefully, your child has experienced flow in some area of study:
“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself…. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
See that picture above. A student at the High School of Art and Design in New York City painted it. Students at this school, many with great artistic talent, have studied different methods, and then practiced, have worked with different mediums, and then practiced some more, have received input from peers and teachers, and are still practicing. They are passionate about their work.
Flow can be developed in any area of enjoyment: the arts, music, and the core subjects. As an educator, the best thing about flow is that it is transferable. Once a student experiences it, he or she looks at school differently, valuing the overall educational experience more. These students are more open to being engaged—and perhaps experiencing more flow—in different areas.
Witness high school sophomores studying Shakespeare, as I did two days ago. They threw themselves into interpreting a scene in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Yes, they read the text, but they also translated Shakespeare’s 16th Century words for their audience (their peers) and embellished their presentation, coming up with RAP tunes, and harmonies. And they combed the room for props, using their own jewelry to enhance the Shakespearian characters’ exchange of tokens of affection. Inner city kids beginning a deeper study of Shakespeare. No doubt, before school ends, they’ll have mastered the play.
Flow. Practice. Commitment. Enjoyment. As Csikszentmihalyi observes, “this is the way the self [student] grows.”
Teachers, students, may the flow be with you!