Learning is about flow: What it is and why it’s good for us | Simon Holzapfel | 4 Min Read

November 8, 2023

Remember the last time you were working on something, got deeply absorbed in it, and lost track of time? That’s called being in a state of flow. Flow is a mental state that correlates highly to our most productive and effective moments of work. The flow state is also when we do our best learning.

The study of flow states in individuals has been well described over the last 20 years by researchers at Yale and elsewhere. We use different words in different contexts to describe how flow feels. Flow states are described by athletes as being “in the zone.” They’re described by meditators as losing a sense of self. They’re described by artists as having deep immersion in their tasks. If you’ve ever seen a young person in school, deeply immersed in their work, they’re in a flow state. 

Humans seek out flow; we like it. It is also good for us. We know that flow is good for us just by looking at the neurochemical release of people in flow states—it’s a healthier state of being. And so when we think about our waking lives we have three conditions, we can exist…

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Simon Holzapfel

Simon Holzapfel, is an award-winning educator, thought leader, innovator, writer, and competitive amateur athlete. Simon is co-founder and CHRO of Teal Education Partners, a coaching consultancy for learning organizations. He is a former Head of School, former Director of Studies, and a current edupreneur. He was in the initial cohort of leaders trained at NAIS’ Innovation Strategy Lab and is on the Executive Board of Boston University’s Agile Innovation Lab. During his headship, his school doubled its number of applications and received its largest single donation as part of its largest capital campaign. Simon is a certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certified ImprovementKATA (LIK) & WorkFLOW (LWF) and a member of the Berkshire Innovation Center. He wakes up each day looking to help supercharge teams through respect for fun, clarity, and hard work.  Simon has served as a trustee for several educational institutions and organizations. He has spent several years helping organizations and leadership teams develop agility and improve their outcomes by applying lean system thinking and the agile mindset. He has also dedicated his professional life to equipping people of diverse backgrounds with the knowledge, skills, values, and purpose they require to work and live well. He lives in Williamstown, MA, and spends as much time as he responsibly can each day on his skis or mountain bike.