I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Rankin this week – the Director of Learning at Apple. He was talking to a group of educators about the learning ecosystem, about how we are no more about imparting knowledge but encouraging learning. That when we teach, we learn. That we need to always be making productive connections with our students and communities, and that it is not a one-way process, it’s a rich structure of people and places, things and technology.
Bill talked about ‘hard fun’ and had a great example of this. If you enjoy Sudoku, would you rather do this puzzle –
Easy Sudoku puzzle
or this one?
Hard sudoku puzzle
You guessed it, the second. Thinking about this ‘hard fun’, he introduced us to Muhaly Csikszentmihalyi’s psychology of optimal experience and the concept of ‘flow’. Csikszentmihályi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” 
Flow Model
Recently I’ve experienced a state of flow when learning to play tennis – an hour felt like one minute and I thought of nothing else apart from how to play the next shot or the next serve. I was incredibly curious to find out more about the game, how it all works and how to improve. Thanks to my expert coach the skill v challenge level was just right and allowed me to experience this. Time also flies for me when performing a piece of music, especially in a group, and also when teaching, where the questions that arise lead us to different places and we get lost in the learning. Linked in with the concept of hard fun, it’s no surprise that time flies!
For me it’s hugely exciting to be part of a learning ecosystem – making use of the tools and technologies we have around us, along with the connections we make with each other in order to push our learning potential as far as possible! Thanks to that ecosystem my curiosity has been excited and I’m off to find out more about flow…
On hard fun and flow
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