TITLE: Csikszentmihalyi to Visit UNI AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 17, 2005 9:19 AM DESC: What can the study of flow teach us about software development and teaching? ----- BODY: I recently learned that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi will be visit my campus for several talks in early March. Csikszentmihalyi (whose name is pronounced 'me-HI chick-SENT-me-hi') is well known for his theory of flow and its role in creativity and learning. Long ago I read some of Csikszentmihalyi's work, though I've never read the bestseller that made his name, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Maybe now is the time. Throughout his career, Csikszentmihalyi has studied the psychology of the creative individual: What characteristics are common to creative individual? How do creative people create? His talks here, though, will focus on the context in which creative individuals thrive. His main talk will describe how to create the sort of environment that must exist in order for a creative individual to contribute most effectively. His other talks will focus on specific contexts: How can educators "design curricula that capitalize on the human need to experience flow?" How work can contribute to well-being, and how can managers and employees create the right sort of workplace? We agile folks often speak of "rhythm" and how TDD and refactoring can create a highly productive flow. And, while I've often heard critics say that XP limits the individuality of developers, I've always thought that agile methods can unleash creativity. I'm curious to hear what Csikszentmihalyi has to say about flow and how we can create environments that support and nurture it, both for software development and for learning. You may recall an earlier discussion here about flow in learning, inspired by the Suzuki method of instruction and by Alan Kay's talks at OOPSLA. I think Csikszentmihalyi can help me to understand these ideas better. -----