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Learning That Flows


If you haven't read about the concept of "flow" in learning, you should take a look at a recent commentary in Education Week titled "Schools That 'Flow'."

For years, I have been fascinated by this concept, which was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist, to describe how skill, interest, and challenge intersect to optimize motivation and performance. I had looked at the concept mostly from the perspective of a writer and a youth sports coach. But the power of how this concept might be used for academic learning in K-12 schools is significant.

In their commentary, Brian Bruya and Russell Owens, faculty members in the department of history and philosophy at Eastern Michigan University, outline how the concept of flow might be used in schools to improve learning. They believe flow may be an important piece of the puzzle in determining the best approaches for improving schools.

This is an article that is worth reading. Please read it and let me know what you think about the concept of flow.



Thanks for the link to the article on Flow. I heard about the term years ago and I read MC's book (sorry - can't take the time to spell out his name). Absolutely great concept. Surprisingly, I teach a graduate course for teachers (Educational Psychology) and the textbook, which I consider excellent, doesn't even mention the concept.

I agree that we have to pay attention to this idea of "learning flow" and we have to incorporate activities that engender it in our classrooms. However, as the article points out, our educational system is organized around getting students to pass high stakes testing exams and not on exploring, discovering, and problem-solving around topics of interest to them. Since we won't change the system tomorrow, the challenge for teachers will be to try to incorporate activities that are likely to induce flow, while still meeting their curricular goals. A tough challenge.

Again, thanks for the link to the article. I may use it in class next semester.


I am an elementary principal for an Open Magnet school. We are currently in the top 5 elementary schools in a large urban district. I am often asked how do we do it. First it takes wonderful staff but I think the Open philosophy allows us to integrate curriculum areas through project learning. Even though we are pulled by district mandates to do 90 minutes of language arts and math, the success comes from engaged motivated students and teachers that set high expectations.

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Recent Comments

  • Judy Zimbelman: I am an elementary principal for an Open Magnet school. read more
  • Michael Britt: Kevin, Thanks for the link to the article on Flow. read more




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