Think about Flow, Substantives and Verbs

According to Flow Theory, when people reflect on how it feels when their experience is most positive, they mention at least one, and often all, of the following:

1. We confront tasks we have a chance of completing;
2. We must be able to concentrate on what we are doing;
3. The task has clear goals;
4. The task provides immediate feedback;
5. One acts with deep, but effortless involvement, that removes from awareness the worries and frustrations of everyday life;
6. One exercises a sense of control over their actions;
7. Concern for the self disappears, yet, paradoxically the sense of self emerges stronger after the flow experience is over; and
8. The sense of duration of time is altered.

The combination of all these elements causes a sense of deep enjoyment that is so rewarding people feel that expending a great deal of energy is worthwhile simply to be able to feel it. Games it appears to me are wrapped around substantives – in that they describe the time, the place, the objects etc., It is the verbs that are used that create the game play. How different these are in game-play makes it all the more interesting that game designers manage to hold the players attention, when largely it could be skipped in favour of mastering the game routines. So I wonder, if players can essentially learn to skip the substantives – ignore the narrative – if they are not facing the same dilemma as teachers – in attempting to deter surface learning – but because they utlise ‘fun’ and ‘flow’ – I wonder how effective the Web2.0 toolkit is in creating Flow inside the current education paradigm. If the answer is yes — then we have some very valuable teachers amongst us. I don’t see a null hypothesis — but do we have these people in key leadership positions – and if not why?

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One thought on “Think about Flow, Substantives and Verbs

  1. This list really resounds with me, Dean! I often, when talking about books with non-readers who are gamers, talk about when all else fades away and the reality of the book and the reader are one. They get what I mean even if they do not seek the experience. On another note, I am off the timetable this year and teach all the kids at our school about ‘learning’. I will share some of the data (survey monkey) and anecdotes with you shortly. It is fascinating what they say about a range of issues. It has been altogether positive so far in class. Kids are kids are kids. Share your own enthusiasms and life and you get as good as you give.

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