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Teenagers: Flow and the random factor

Mrs. Ambili Unnikrishnan, PGT English attended a talk on Teenagers: Flow and the random factor by Joanna Gore - British Council on Thursday 07 October.

The session demonstrated two approaches that stimulate teenagers’ motivation to learn:

  • Flow theory – helps us create the classroom conditions for intrinsic motivation to flourish.
  • ‘The random factor’ (that is, exploiting activities based on an absurd premise) – takes away students’ fear of the wrong answer, and encourages critical and creative thinking.

The talk focused on the relationship between flow experiences and language learning. Flow theory suggests that flow experiences (characterized by a balance between challenge and skills and by a person’s interest, control and focused attention during a task) can lead to optimal learning. Intense concentration and absorption in an activity with no distractions is what Flow theory helps in. As applied to education, learners experience flow when the task’s challenge is high but not much beyond their current skill level. The ultimate goal of an effective teacher is, therefore, to have a good grasp of the skill level of their students and to continuously provide them with learning tasks at a challenge level matching their skill level. If the task’s challenge is too low, learning becomes boring.

The following conditions must be present for the flow to occur:

  • Clear task goals. Flow is possible when learners know exactly what they are doing and what their aim is. Conflicting requirements breed confusion and are not conducive to flow.
  • Balance between challenges and skills.
  • Immediate feedback. To maintain the state of flow one needs to know how well one is doing by getting feedback from their peers or mentors.

Various classroom activities such as JAM, debates with a variation, card game and four-in-a row vocabulary were discussed. The insights from the talk will be shared with the teachers of English of the Middle School.

Teenagers: Flow and the random factor Teenagers: Flow and the random factor