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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

LIEBENBERG, Johan  and  ROOS, Vera. Preadolescent leaders: critical reflections from a well-being perspective. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2008, vol.28, n.4, pp. 581-593. ISSN 0256-0100.

Very little information is available on the impact of leadership practices, in South African primary schools, on the development of preadolescent learners. Leadership in primary schools focuses mainly on the roles, tasks, features, identification and development of "leadership". Leadership practices, as currently applied in most primary schools in South Africa, challenge preadolescent development, with serious consequences. Our purpose in this study was to reflect critically on the appropriateness of existing leadership models for the preadolescent from a well-being perspective. A qualitative research method, which follows an inductive, exploratory approach, was selected because this method acknowledges the complexity of the phenomenon. Data were collected by means of focus groups and written assignments. The six components of psychological well-being, namely: self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, and autonomy are used in discussion of the findings. The findings confirmed that the current social phenomenon of preadolescent leadership contributes to negative evaluations of the self and personal experiences, early identity foreclosure, disrupted peer group interactions, distorted relationships with adults, and a limited environment for the development of self-determination.

Keywords : development; leadership practices; leadership values; preadolescent; psychological well-being; qualitative investigation.

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