When I was a student, I loved having eureka moments. I recall the many occasions in a classroom when a question that bugged me was finally resolved, the times when all of a sudden I understood a difficult concept upon hearing it being reexplained in a unique way, and the times when I came up with something that I thought was really interesting and shared it with others. These days we know the science behind such moments and why they feel so good; our brains release dopamine when we learn something new and exciting – it’s the same chemical that is released when advancing to the next level of a video game or hearing the coins in a slot machine. As educators, we are in the business of creating eureka moments. I see it as my goal to make learning as fun and as addictive as possible. I want to rekindle that flame of curiousity we all had when we were children, before anyone told us we should stop being so damn annoying by asking so many questions. Because ultimately, to create you’ve first got to be curious and there is nothing more meaningful than being in the business of developing creators who will one day shape the world we live in. As a teacher, I literally see myself as a kid who is just trying to find ways to engage and play with other kids; yes, what makes me tick is the thought of bringing out the kid in everyone.
Thoughts on the flow state
What could be wrong with what we love and enjoy? What could be wrong with what makes me happy?
Emotions are that which we experience when we move towards or away from our values. When our values are not based on rational thought, not constructed on the basis of reality, our emotions will lead us astray. Think of the hedonist who seeks pleasure at the cost of everything else. He still has to be productive in order to survive or he will become a parasite who leeches off the work of others.
We are conditioned by society to relish in the flow state and to think of it as an ideal state to strive towards. It is true that the flow state is touted as a sign of mastery, but it is also the trap of mediocrity. When we are in the flow state, we are unconscious and operating from habits; we are doing without thinking; we are static; we are not growing; in nature, what is not growing is dying. The flow state is the foreshadow of death.
The flow state is destructive in the long run. A true expert constantly disrupts his flow state by introducing new elements into his practice. This is what some psychologists call “deliberate practice” and seek to distinguish from mindless repetition. One makes an expert, the other makes a fool.