Peak Learning Experiences, Flow, and Drive

In my school's current vision implementation work with Grant Lichtman, we were asked for a moment of reflection on a peak learning experience we could remember. Here's what I wrote (off the cuff, so forgive the tense inconsistencies):

For me, it’s all about “flow.” Getting so lost in a project at hand that I’m unaware of time passing - there are other, more fascinating demands on my attention. I had a goal I personally cared about, and the time / freedom to pursue my learning (though I’m not sure I’d always call it that in the moment) no matter where it led me. In a sense, that means there were no criteria for success, but I think that’s only applicable to a final product. When I reflect back on the process I was embroiled in, it easily hit all the benchmarks of learning.

There have been others, but immediately I think of CMK last summer. But I also think about investigations under water off of Andros Island in the Marine Ecology Immersion. Hours spent practicing my musical instrument of choice. Also, though perhaps less physically active (and more mentally), when I was so wrapped up in a show or podcast that I inadvertently got through hour+ long programs without noticing.

These experiences all include the same elements: self-direction / autonomy, noticeable improvement, and I had bought into the process / philosophy (i.e. purpose). It occurs to me that this is Drive, by Dan Pink, pretty directly.

We were also asked to think about how school could be peak learning all the time.

All of these learning experiences result in the product of an improved me: more efficient at tasks, better informed, more curious, etc. School can easily be this - just put student focus on process and faculty focus on facilitation and guidance. Make rubrics prioritize elements of good process, skill acquisition, and meta-cognition instead of factual recall and standardized reporting. It doesn’t look like traditional schooling, but it’s absolutely possible in a traditional school environment. (And it can completely THRIVE in a purpose-designed learning environment.)

No real reason to share this...Thoughts? :)