The possible misfit of Csikszentmihalyi’s dimensions of flow in the contemporary roles of school leaders
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In many jurisdictions school leaders are being placed under increased accountability and stress, which then affects their ability to address the real issue of education - improving students' learning. Flow Theory, developed by the Hungarian-American psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, has a high degree of relevance to the issue of the way modern school leaders carry out their roles. A purposive sample of school leaders (N=8) was interviewed about their Flow experiences, in both in-school and out-of-school situations. The nine dimensions of Flow (Jackson and Csikszentmihalyi, 1999) were used as a conceptual guide in the e-interviews. Each of the school leaders gave powerful descriptions of their memorable out-of -school deep-Flow experiences, but their in-school experience of Flow appeared to have far less impact. The data analysis showed that with this sample of school leaders only four of Jackson and Csikszentmihalyi’s nine dimensions of Flow were identifiable in their in-school experiences. The misfit of Csikszentmihalyi’s dimensions of Flow is important, and needs re-interrogation in future research. Importantly, the moral dimension of the school leaders job was identified by the respondents as the most important facilitator of Flow in both public and private schools, and this may provide the key to improved school leader resilience and motivation.
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