Powerful learning results in flow

Once again, I was inspired and prompted by my friend Matt Oldridge into thinking and writing. This time, I found myself considering flow again. I wrote about this a few years ago but, since then, I have learned more about constructionism and more about learning in general. I’ve still so much to learn but Matt’s prompt today brought me to an epiphany:

Powerful, joyful, natural learning induces flow.

Seymour Papert always strongly argued that learning is an innate and powerful instinct in humans, especially children. His research, theories, and the learning & thinking tools he designed for children always sought to be in harmony with the way children learn naturally. When reading Papert, you hear him expressing, again and again, the idea that education and learning are two very different things. And, that learning should always be the goal.

So, my mid-week morning epiphany is this: The conditions Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes as necessary for “flow” are the “look fors” for powerful (joyful and natural) learning as Papert often described. Powerful, joyful, natural learning induces flow.


That is, whenever I have witnessed powerful learning in students, or experienced powerful learning myself, a state of flow was achieved by those ‘doing’ the learning. I’m still wondering if it works the other way around: when one is experiencing flow while engaged in an activity, is powerful learning always happening at the same time? What do you think?

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