Most education majors have seen the movie, Stand and Deliver, on multiple occasions, but this scene is worth another look after reading about Flow Theory (Csikszentmihalyi, 2005) and the social context of the classroom (Alderman, 1999). Although the concept of flow theory is relatively new to me, this teacher appears to be close. He may be in what Csikszentmihalyi referred to as control or arousal. The quote shared during the speech is especially pertinent to explain how this scene may be evidence of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2005):
“It’s like opening a door that’s floating in the middle of nowhere and all you have to do is go and turn the handle and open it and let yourself sink into it. You can’t particularly force yourself through it. You just have to float. If there’s any gravitational pull, it’s from the outside world trying to keep you back from the door.”
There are moments in possibly any career, when the worker hits the perfect mix of challenge and skill. This zone is fueled by intrinsic motivation for the task at hand and flow is experienced. Fortunately for these students, this Jaime Escalante’s (the teacher) flow was able to counter the negative peer influences and antiachievement. Social context has great potential for harm and good, and high bandwidth social interaction akin to face to face interaction is something researchers have found difficult to replicate in online environments (Russell, 2005).
When watching this clip, see if you can spot some of the key words discussed from the various models and theories of motivation. How does the educator build a sense of competence, relatedness, autonomy? What does he do to gain attention, foster relevance, build confidence, and promote satisfaction? Does he include any actions related to the SUCCESS model?
My favorite piece is when Escalante refers to how the Romans and the Greeks never conceived of “zero”, yet the ancestors of his students had. Math was in their blood he said. The camera then shows a very visual reaction to this statement as students sit up and look around more confidently. With this one statement, relatedness, confidence, and possibly competence shifted in the positive and “put more sand in the pile”.
Alderman, M. K. (1999). Promoting optimal motivation and engagement: Social context. In Motivation for achievement: Possibilities for teaching and learning (pp. 205–235).
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). Flow: The secret to happiness. TED. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow
Russell, G. (2005). The distancing question in online education. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 1(4). Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.186.6310&rep=rep1&type=pdf