Best Practice

The best learning goes with the flow: The work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Early years learning pioneer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi passed away last year. Known as the father of ‘flow’, his theories of pupil engagement are crucial. Neil Henty looks at how his work can help us to promote optimal experiences in the classroom


The worlds of education and psychology said goodbye to one of its leading lights in October, following the death of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Sometimes referred to as the father of “flow”, Mike as he liked to be known is also considered a pioneer of early years learning. But how many people working in education really know the flow theory and why it is so relevant to learning?

Engagement is the key. The whole idea of flow is to transport someone to a state of focused contentment so that they are “caught in the flow” of the task they are performing. Although flow theory has obvious application to children’s learning, as we will see it applies to virtually any occupation, including teaching.

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