Saturday, 26 October 2013

In the zone

Nothing compares to being totally immersed in the process of creating

At least, this is how I feel. Czikszentmihalyi called this process 'flow'. Sometimes when I'm at my keyboard singing, time ceases to exist and I don't want to stop, or if I'm writing poetry or songs, or decorating my room, or writing my blog. The adult world leaves so little time for total immersion. We're usually aware of the limits of time and the pressing obligations of adult life. Not so with children. They have the benefit of living mostly in the present. This is our opportunity to allow them to fully experience 'flow', wonder, joy and full immersion in the creative process.

This is what early childhood education should be all about. Timetables, routines and curriculum documents hinder 'flow'. The Reggio educators know this. Abundant materials are provided for children to explore. A variety of rooms are allocated to craft, music and movement, which means that children have uncluttered space for creativity and the opportunity to revisit and extend their work over a period of time. Packing away and sharing stifle creativity too.

The question is, what are we going to do about this? Just remember it. Keep it in mind. Allow yourself to experience 'flow' sometimes. Creativity is good for the soul. The process can be satisfying and the product can be satisfying. Don't think it has to be about one or the other. Try to remember to let the children go sometimes. Let them create whatever they want without hovering over them asking them what they're creating. It's so easy to want to control the outcome and document it.

Allowing children to experience 'flow' will enable them to develop self-images as creators. It will provide them with the motivation to keep creating, just because, just for their own joy and satisfaction. When this becomes a need in them, they will have the possibility of progressing as adult creators. Being in the zone means that their minds will stay alive with the possibilities that creative thinking and imagining produce.

This is so important for their future. Knowing the answers won't be enough in the workplaces of the future. Being able to create new questions will be the key. We want our children to succeed in the workplace and experience wellbeing in their personal lives. Enabling them to exist in the moment now, immersing their senses, developing their own theories, honouring their own perspectives, and creating their own outcomes will give them the skills that they will need to proceed through a challenging, changing future.

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