Ever heard of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi? How about “being in the zone”?
Mihaly is often referred to as the”father of flow”. In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
I experience this when I work out, particularly with kettle bells. As they are a heavy piece of equipment, (24 kg each), the form I use when lifting them is very important. A mistake can result in an injury quite easily. In fact, it is the pursuit of correct form that occupies my mind when working out with kettle bells.
I believe this concentration is equivalent to being in a flow state, with little or no regard for the other things I have going on in my life. Often during my studies, I believe I have experienced flow, when I become focused on my studies and I don`t think about how tired I am I feel super concentrated.
Another thing I use to improve my ability to achieve a flow state is an app called headspace. It is guided mindfulness meditation and it helps me to remember to be mindful. My working definition of being mindful is something like this – The practice of being mindful is to understand what really matters to me and what is most important, without letting life and it`s various problems and/or distractions get in the way. https://www.headspace.com/my
I also came across another description of how to achieve a flow state;
Have you ever noticed your body sometimes naturally slips into a flow state ?
The theory maintains that when certain triggers happen at just the right times flow occurs. Basically, in order for this to happen you must experience these steps in the right order
- Struggle – you find difficulty in an interesting task which is a little beyond your capabilities
- Release – you let go of the thoughts that are holding you back, and finally…
- Flow – your conscious mind gets out of the way and your subconscious takes over for you.
Flow in the Classroom
How do we create the right conditions for students to be able to experience flow, either during specific activities or in the course of your regular routine?
- Challenge kids—but not too much.
- I will use formative assessments. Use pre assessments to assess prior knowledge of a topic or theme and then carefully try to extend the class. (According to Mihaly only about 4% above their comfort level).
- Make assignments feel relevant to students’ lives.
- Engage the students with meaningful projects, action based and with a real life application. (See action in the PYP)
- Encourage choice.
- Allow the students a number of choices to gather and present their understanding. Use a wide variety of teaching approaches.
- Set clear goals (and give feedback along the way).
- Have the learning objectives and the rubric (or other assessment tool) clearly understood and contributed on by students before the project starts.
- Build positive relationships.
- Make time for one on ones with students and play with them regularly on a weekly basis. Above all make them feel special and worthy of your attention.
- Foster deep concentration.
- Be flexible with lesson times and subjects. If it’s clear that the students are deeply engaged in their work, slide the next lesson back wherever possible. Use good teacher provocation questions, use animations or video.
- Offer hands-on exercises.
- Model building, arts and crafts, pads, Lego, cooking, realia, and computer use.
- Make ‘em laugh.
- Share funny images or stories, and always encourage humour in the classroom. (Even offer weekly “stand-up” opportunities for the class comedian (spots awarded for good application through the week.)
Eight Tips for Fostering Flow in the Classroom. (2016). Greater Good. Retrieved 11 June 2016, from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/eight_tips_for_fostering_flow_in_the_classroom
Marcus, A. (2015). Steven Kotler – The Most Addictive Performance Drug in The World: Flow – Aubrey Marcus. Aubrey Marcus. Retrieved 25 June 2016, from https://www.aubreymarcus.com/steven-kotler-the-most-addictive-performance-drug-in-the-world-flow/
Suttie, J. (2016). Can Schools Help Students Find Flow?. Greater Good. Retrieved 25 June 2016, from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_schools_help_students_find_flow
Videos on the “Father” of flow MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h6IMYRoCZw
I am an avid listener to the Joe Rogan experience podcast and he has a company called Onnit, www.onnit.com whose aim is to optimize human performance, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Of particular interest in a nootropic that they sell called Alpha Brain, to help get us into a flow state. Here is a review of the product http://best5supplements.com/nootropics/alpha-brain-instant-review/