Routledge, the publishers of my new student motivation book, just did an interview with me about my series of books.

Here’s an excerpt:

3. What are grit, flow, and transfer, and why are those terms getting a lot of buzz these days?

More and more, people are realizing that “transfer” — the term used to describe applying what one has learned in a particular situation to another in a different context – is really the main purpose of schooling. And, many are recognizing that schools don’t do a very good job at it.

Flow is a term originally coined by professor and researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is the highest level of intrinsic motivation – the “optimal experience.” Flow is what people feel when they are enjoying doing an activity so much that they are “being carried away in a current,” says Csikszentmihalyi, and they lose track of time. Research has found that, apart from when they are doing paid work like flipping burgers, students feel a sense of flow less oftentimes in the classroom than at any other time.

I think that these kinds of research findings are finally making their way into the education establishment, and it’s pretty frightening. Fortunately, there are many things that teachers can do in their day-to-day lessons to both increase transfer and maximize the odds of their students getting into “flow.”

Of the three words you mention, “grit” is probably the one most well-known, and basically means perseverance in the face of obstacles. Unfortunately, the concept is being used by some, including New York Times columnist David Brooks, to advance the myth that this character trait is what low-income people and schools need, not additional resources or a change in our society’s wealth inequality. I believe that lessons and support of “grit” have a place in the classroom (and in my books). I also believe they have to kept in their place, and we need to acknowledge the grit that many of our students and their families show in their everyday lives, as well as recognizing that grit is just one piece of a much more complex puzzle.