Flow – Integral to the Future of Education

Flow – Integral to the Future of Education

Education Performance Skills

In a world in which 65% of primary school students will work a job that has not yet been created, one of the most important abilities to develop in order to be ready for the future is one’s ability to self-regulate towards Flow. 

For the past 200 years, it is widely argued that linear curriculums have adversely affected the outcomes of many educational systems. Instead of teaching kids HOW to learn and succeed, we seem to be brainwashing them with predefined content in order to hit predefined targets. We have encouraged parrot-like repetition for the sole purpose of achieving state-led targets and producing “A+ students” at the cost of their curiosity, their love of learning, and their desire to think for themselves. 

Students are not the only casualty, equally, teachers are often conflicted and pressured into top-down teaching specific content rather than fostering inspiration in their students and facilitating bottom-up learning. “State education departments and their surveillance systems, along with the “national” comparison assessment systems, in combination, have made many schools ‘stations of anxiety”. These demotivating ‘anxiety cultures’ are getting worse and have resulted in student mental health an all-time low. The teaching profession is suffering with teachers leaving in droves, including principals. “The current ‘education narrative’ is toxic and focusing on Flow would be a major step in the right direction”, explains John Hendry. John is a distinguished professor who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his outstanding work in education and transforming Geelong Grammar School into Australia’s most sought after school. 

Let’s take a look at why and how we should use Flow in education. 

The characteristics one experiences when in the Flow state are extremely conducive for optimal learning in education. As a state defined by extreme focus, zero distractions, and creative problem-solving ability, Flow has been long associated as the state for optimal learning and engagement. Not only does Flow induce short-term benefits such as enjoyment, gratification, creativity and a sense of mastery from overcoming the challenges inherent within learning tasks, but Flow also has longer-term benefits. 

The positive feelings of Flow have been researched to encourage academic confidence and develop an individual’s desire to seek out further education; traits hugely important for academic success and an enjoyable academic experience. 

The benefits of Flow doesn’t stop with helping students. 

Flow within music teachers has been reported to induce higher levels of motivation, greater control of their actions, and a deep sense of satisfaction and joy. In 2014, David Shernoff, Director of the Center for Math, Science, and Computer Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and his colleagues reviewed much of the research on Flow in education. They decided to assess, first-hand, how a variety of instructional activities designed to facilitate Flow would affect the learning experience. Their results were consistent with previous literature in that optimal learning environments were indeed created through facilitating flow. Student engagement occurred more frequently and for prolonged periods during conditions in which  Flow had been intentionally incorporated into the activities. 

Interestingly, the occurrence of Flow seemed to go beyond the individual benefit. 

 A study examining 178 music teachers and 605 students across 16 different music schools, concluded that Flow is contagious; meaning it crosses over from the teachers to the students. The studies concluded that the teachers, and specifically their own ability to find Flow, may play a more pivotal role in establishing student Flow than first thought. 

In order to apply Flow into education, educational entities must ask themselves, what type of human being are we creating? 

Are the current learning methods the best way to engineer learning? 

Students can certainly be disciplined into memorising spelling and grammar through traditional top-down driven learning, but does this make them competent at writing a good story or a persuasive argument? Does it make them a writer? 

No.

The educational institutes which flip the equation and place a student’s experience and learning first, aim to develop students’ intrinsic desires and passion to learn. As a result, students are better able to self-regulate their motivation to learn, manage their concentration and derive meaningful takeaways from their learning. In this manner, organisations  that put Flow first actually reap the results of high engagement that most learning organisations suggest that they desire. 

Interestingly, schools examining Flow reported that students’ Flow scores at the end of semester 1 were predictive of academic performances at the end of the year. In fact, researchers such as Jean Heutte, Professor of Education at Lille University in France, even advocate measuring Flow in addition to the usual exams at school that traditionally assess memory retention and cognitive thinking. The logic being that understanding a students ability to find flow gives great insight as to a student’s current capacity and self-determination to learn; a great benchmark for future grades and performance. This has already been adopted in preschool children and onwards in Denmark. 

Even if a systemic change is unlikely in your organisation, perhaps examine whether it would be fruitful to assess how much Flow is already experienced. It may well be the difference that makes the difference. 
If you are interested in cultivating Flow into your life experiences, we have an excellent team of experts who have dedicated their lives to understanding and teaching flow in others. We have provided several academic institutes with the knowledge and training to facilitate Flow in their classrooms and workplace. As well as one-to-one coaching and evidence-based online courses updated constantly based on cutting edge flow research. Join our community and learn more about how the Flow state can help you and become a Flow Seeker.

Think less, be more.

Flow in Learning

Flow in Learning

Education Performance Skills

Imagine a world where class time flies by because the students understand and engage in the information presented, are not distracted by other students in the class, and most importantly, enjoy what they are learning. Sounds too good to be true? What if we were to tell you that there is a way to foster this experience? Plus the onus isn’t solely on the teachers either, the students have the power to harness Flow and make this environment a reality!

Continue reading to find out more about Flow in learning:

  • Q1. What is Flow?
  • Q2. What are the benefits of finding Flow in education?
  • Q3. How do the characteristics of Flow interact with the learning environment?
  • Q4. How can Flow be increased in an educational environment?

Q1. What is Flow?

The term ‘Flow’ is translatable to many other contexts, not just exclusive to the sporting arena and is well established with over 40 years of research within psychology, physiology and neuroscience. Flow is an optimal state of functioning where there is concentration on the task at hand and total immersion in the moment. The present-focus replaces any self-concern with an inherent enjoyment of the moment. The experience feels effortless as within the act we are able to execute the exact skill set required with complete control.

Q2. What are the benefits of finding Flow in education?

Flow is more acknowledged during acts of excellence in pressured situations like  a high performance in an examination setting, but Flow can also occur in everyday learning experiences. Previous research suggests that finding Flow in education induces the short term benefits like enjoyment, gratification, and a sense of mastery from learning tasks for both teachers and students. Longer term benefits include academic confidence, a desire to seek further education, and a predictor of future academic performance.

The process of seeking Flow induces a growth principle. The student grows, develops and fulfills their potential by constantly extending themselves beyond their perceived ability, due to the pursuit of Flow. This process feels so good that the student is compelled to repeat this experience enabling continuous growth. Which is why finding oneself in an optimal state of functioning frequently is highly positively correlated with well-being.

As well as well-being Flow fosters motivation and creativity, but perhaps most importantly, a sustainable performance. When students are able to find Flow, learning becomes a rich and meaningful experience helping them to digest more information and increase their motivation towards their studies.

Q3. How do the characteristics of Flow interact with the learning environment?

In education, it is important to enhance the aspects of Flow that are most relevant to learning. In a classroom setting, the main goal is to create an optimal learning environment. Optimal learning environments are those that support a state of Flow within the process of learning. Research suggests that cognitive absorption, time transformation, loss of self-consciousness and an autotelic experience can all play a pivotal role within the classroom context.

  • Cognitive absorption is an increase in concentration and immersion in the task. This can be experienced by being transfixed in a particular topic of interest.
  • Time transformation is an alteration in the perception of time, often leading to a lengthened duration of immersion in the task.
  • A loss of self-consciousness or lack of self-concern is emphasised by a heightened awareness of the importance of the social aspect of learning.
  • Lastly, an autotelic experience refers to an intrinsically motivating and rewarding experience where individuals engage for the pleasure of learning, nothing more. This type of motivation enhances persistence and the desire to engage in the activity again.

Q4. How can Flow be increased in an educational environment?

The state of Flow can be increased by manipulating the individual’s culture, context and level of self-management. An in depth understanding requires some focused attention, and those interested may want to enquire about our ‘Learn and Flow’ programme dedicated for educational contexts.

From an individual level, self-management is critical. An individual’s ability to be self-efficacious about their skills directly affects their ability to meet the challenge and enter a state of Flow. Confident individuals approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided. So setting up the classroom whether physical or virtual and helping students to self-regulate their perspective when meeting a challenge and have a huge impact on whether the students may find Flow.

Importantly, Flow is accessible to any person in any field. The difficulty that most individuals’ face is persisting with the pursuit of Flow and not becoming sidetracked by other agendas that may seem more important on the surface.  To leave you with a thought – harness the yearn to learn!

If you are interested in learning and cultivating Flow into your learning experiences, The Flow Centre offers one-to-one coaching as well as evidence-based online courses updated constantly based on cutting edge flow research.

The Brain’s Ridiculous Processing Power

The Brain’s Ridiculous Processing Power

Articles To Inspire Education

With so much information what do we actually experience?

The consciousness is taking only the most important and the amount that reflects the maximum possible absorption of objective reality. Of the 400 billion bits of information per second that reach the brain, only 2,000 bits are utilized so that man has conscience of the world around them. It is as much information about the environment, about their bodies and about what kind of decision will be taken in time. The perception of reality so to speak, is extremely limited.

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