(by Michell. Original post in Chinese: 瑟谷自主學習(二)：人性熱忱）
In Sudbury Hong Kong, a group of children were playing tag. They set goals, they had strategies, they were focussed totally. Suddenly, a 5-year-old peed on his pants! He has held his pee the whole time because he didn’t want to waste time going to the bathroom.
A few days later, I was reading a Sudbury book. I was so absorbed in it, reflecting and jotting notes, reading and writing. After a while, I realized that I was holding my pee the whole time. Then I walked to the bathroom thinking, “Urgh, so annoying that I need to stop doing what I love! Going to the bathroom is just wasting my time!” I am no different from the five year boy! The only difference is that I could hold my pee longer.
Have we ever been so passionate and immersed in what we love that we became focussed totally and timeless, and even forgot to eat and sleep?
This is the best feeling in the world. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called this state of optimal experience “flow”. This is the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Concentration is so intense that we don’t realize time passes. The more we are in this state, the happier we feel. And in order to get into the state of flow, we need to be doing something that we are passionate about. With the passion, we will challenge ourselves by actively learning new skills and get better at it. We get better, and we increase the challenge again, and we get better. The more we move to that direction, the more intense the state of flow gets. And this is where we find the ecstacy.
One of the highest value of Sudbury education is to allow children experience the flow to the max, and as much as possible. This supports them to pursue their passion and mission in life.
The more free play we have as a child, the less we are coerced to learn, and the more we can respond to our impulse to explore, the easier we will find our passion and experience the state of flow. It is the feeling of forgetting to pee that make us know what we care, and what our passion is.
I believe that if a person finds her/his passion and is so contented and abundant inside, s/he will automatically have the urge to share it with others. By living out her/his passion, s/he is making an impact and serving, which we called fulfilling ones mission.
When children are focused on doing what they love, they are one step closer to their mission in life.
Children will learn whatever they need to to become capable. It doesn’t really matter if they learn a specific subject or skill later. However, if they have never experienced the state of flow, or if they have suppressed it or forgotten about it, they may never know what passion is.
In Sudbury Hong Kong, whenever I watch the kids playing and learning intensely, and enthusiastically focus on what they love, my heart is full of trust and blessing.