Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Csikszentmihalyi- 3 times fast!

I do not know if I could spell his name on my own, but Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a psychologist at the University of Chicago who has developed a theory about inner experience. According to him, the optimal moment occurs when a person is completely absorbed in whatever he or she is doing--he calls this moment, "flow." In his words, "...I developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of flow--the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, just for the sake of doing it." 

I spend a lot of time thinking about education and classrooms, and I spend a fair amount of time thinking about running. I was thinking this week about the "cost" of Sunday's run. Fortunately, it was not fatal for anyone, but for me (and I think for a whole bunch of other people), it was an experience of "flow." What I have been flipping around in my mind is the general disconnect between school and the experience of "flow"--how many people ever have moments of being so involved in what is happening in school that they lose track of time? Over 135 people were so committed to "the sake of doing" Ohlone that they pushed themselves through extremely difficult conditions. While there were some who realized more pushing would have been dangerous, and others who ended up in grave danger, what is impressive is the commitment demonstrated by all involved. What would our schools look like if they were places that inspired this kind of dedication to a goal? What would a school look like, full of the joy of extremely hard work? That's what long distance running IS--finding joy in extremely hard work. I am so NOT someone who will bemoan today's students as lacking in work ethic--I was a good student but nothing in school ever inspired me to push myself the way running does, and I think this is really sad. To be a little grandiose, what would our world look like if we created opportunities for everyone to become this involved in what they were passionate about? 

Enough philosophizing for the night...

1 comment:

GB said...

This is a great subject! It makes me think way back to high school and what made me want to work harder: my cross country coach and running cross country, and the thought of going to college. What made me want to work harder in college? The thought of getting out of Fresno and going back to the bay area! But maybe if I were running in college, it would have taken me less time to graduate. ;)

This post motivates me to create some kind of environment for my kids to explore and work on their interests. I think when they are happy working on their projects, they'll be happier in most areas of life!

Hmmm, kind of like our running "projects," and how working on them carries over into everything. Sweet!