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Not for Women Only: School Administration as a Feminist Activity


by Helen B. Regan - 1990

This article recounts the journey of a high school administrator to the concept of feminist administration. It offers a first definition of feminist administering through parallels with feminist pedagogy and makes some tentative suggestions about the application of the concept to the school restructuring movement. (Source: ERIC)

Practitioners of feminist pedagogy, women and men, care about issues of voice and authority.[1]They work hard to create classrooms in which expertise does not intimidate and role authority does not silence. Rather than “profess,” feminist teachers converse with their students. As a high school administrator for ten years, I also was concerned with issues of voice and authority. I tried to create a school where my expertise and role authority did not isolate me from teachers, a school where teachers and I could converse.

 

These parallels between elements of feminist pedagogy and my experience as an administrator were not apparent to me at the time. However, several years later, I now see myself as having been a practitioner of feminist school administration exactly as some teachers are practitioners of a feminist pedagogy. I have come to believe that the concept of feminist administration is generalizable far beyond my personal experience, and I believe it is a concept useful in our current effort to rethink the structure of schools.

 

The concept of feminist administering did not occur to me in a flash of insight, but rather simmered for years in my mind as my experiences as an administrator mixed with my rising awareness of feminism. First I learned to interpret my own work using a feminist perspective, then I discovered that what I had thought to be a unique experience was actually shared by others. Next I understood that much of feminist administering was really feminist pedagogy in another arena, and more or less simultaneously I saw the connection between the concept of feminist administering and elements of the second wave of the reform movement, concerned as it is with school restructuring.

 

In addition to caring about issues of voice and authority in the classroom, feminist pedagogy respects experience as text. From this perspective my journey to the concept of feminist administration becomes as important as the concept resulting from the journey. The body of this article thus recounts the journey, offers a first definition of feminist administering through parallels with feminist pedagogy, and makes some tentative suggestions about the application of the concept to the school restructuring movement.

 

LEARNING TO SEE ANEW: FROM THE DOUBLE PYRAMID TO THE BROKEN HELIX

 

Among the changes wrought in the classroom by a feminist pedagogy is an end to the silence of the women students followed by development of a new language used to name and therefore render visible their experiences as women.[2]My experience as a woman school principal similarly was initially characterized by silence about my work and therefore ignorance of much of its feminist meaning. Over a period of ten years, I was embarked, at first unconsciously, on a journey leading to naming and ultimately understanding the feminist nature of my administering. I arrived at this new understanding after a series of discoveries of a new language and new symbols with which to describe my work and thought. I learned to see anew.

 

The description of the journey is best done through the telling of stories about milestones enroute. The first milestone occurred after about four years as an assistant principal and one year as an acting principal when I was eagerly seeking my own principalship. I had been very successful at landing interviews; however, I had not landed a job. In the midst of this search I was asked by the Connecticut affiliate of the Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders to serve as the candidate in a mock interview for a superintendency to be conducted by a panel of real superintendents during an upcoming conference sponsored by the group.[3] I agreed. Although I was somewhat daunted by the audience of sixty people seated for the event, I nonetheless performed at my best: tough, assertive, fielding the superintendents’ questions confidently.

 

The next day back in my school, I was approached by a teacher friend who had been in the audience. She said, somewhat tentatively, that she had a few reactions to the session of the day before, but she was not sure I would want to hear them. I swallowed and asked her to go ahead. What followed was one of the most helpful critiques of my work I have ever received. The teacher began by acknowledging that she assumed that my performance was just the sort most people looked for in a superintendent-but, she went on, the woman she had seen performing was not the person she knew. Where were the compassion, the empathy, the gentleness, the gift for collaboration-qualities she had seen me use time and again to soothe students, encourage teachers, console parents? I was thunderstruck by her comments. My friend had told me that qualities I knew I had and that I knew were essential to my competent performance as an administrator were not obvious in an interview.

 

Reflecting on her comments, I realized that I deliberately, albeit unconsciously, buried those qualities during interviews because I believed they would be held against me; they did not match my image of the tough administrator, which I thought all interview committees looked for. Yet on the job I drew on these qualities daily. It appeared that I was portraying myself during interviews as a machine gun spewing bullets when in actuality one of the keys to my success as an administrator was my ability to reduce the number of occasions when anyone needed to spew bullets.

 

In my next interview I consciously modified my style to portray a balance of what I called at the time both my hard and soft qualities. I worked persistently in that interview to convey the idea that I could be hard and soft simultaneously, that neither set of qualities excluded the other. I got that job, but in retrospect the outcome was of secondary significance. Of far more importance was the fact that my teacher friend had given me the gift of my complete and therefore authentic self, and unbeknown to either of us at the time, she had also set in motion the process of naming what I now understand to be the feminist elements of my administering.

 

As a high school principal newly conscious of the double set of qualities I employed in my administering, and convinced that a balance of these qualities was a factor distinguishing effective from ineffective administrators, I set to administering my school consciously balancing the hard and the soft. I saw myself as one member of a team composed also of department chairs, assistant principals, and teachers, whose task it was to examine issues and decide collectively what to do. My role as principal gave me certain tasks, primarily securing resources and support for our decisions, overseeing their implementation, and maintaining the norms that we collectively decided were appropriate for our school; however, the actual decision making I saw as synergistic, with the quality of the decision a function of the input going into it. My role-specific tasks often drew on my hard qualities; my team-specific tasks primarily drew on my soft qualities.

 

Most of the people in my new school were unaccustomed to doing business this way. In particular, I found I had to teach them what it meant to function as a team by using various strategies such as paraphrasing what a speaker said to create the experience of being heard, throwing questions back to the group, pointedly soliciting opinions from the quiet ones, allowing silences to create the expectation that others would speak, hiring a consultant to work with the group on interpersonal skills. Over time I began to see progress so that the nature of our discourse shifted from salesmanship on their part, with the expectation that my announcement of winners would follow, to mutual problem solving. Although I initially created some confusion, insecurity, and misunderstanding as I changed the rules, slowly the decisions became ours instead of mine.

 

The next milestone in the journey was the occasion on which I realized that the dual hard and soft qualities of my administering were not uniquely mine, but rather were generalizable to other women and to some men. As a high school principal, I had been asked to nominate a teacher to participate in a women’s studies curricular infusion project. I was invited to one session with the director, Peggy McIntosh of the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College, where I heard her present her broken-pyramid metaphor of the human psyche.[4]That metaphor became the lens through which I began to see clearly the feminist elements of my administering; it is of such significance to the journey that I need to describe it in some detail.

 

The broken pyramid is a metaphor describing the essence of the role differentiation in our culture. The pyramid has a fault line running through it at the middle. Above the fault is the world that operates competitively in an either/or mode. Either people move up the pyramid and gain more wealth, status, and power, or they do not. The movement of those going up by definition prescribes failure for others because there is room for fewer and fewer as the pyramid narrows at the top. Whole segments of our society have this vertical structure, for example, the military, the church, corporations, and schools. Because society projects this role onto them, mostly white males occupy this part of the pyramid, and the closer to the top, the more dominant their numbers.

 

Below the fault lies a whole different world, inhabited through role projection primarily by women, people of color, and low-status white males. Its organization is horizontal and collaborative; it is cyclical and repetitive. Most of daily life takes place here: doing dishes, changing diapers, planting fields, teaching. These are tasks that must be done again, repetitively, cyclically. This is where caring and nurturing, relationship and community building happen. It is a both/and world.

 

When I first heard the broken-pyramid metaphor, I was overcome with a sense of meaning revealed. It helped me understand why I believed it so essential to administration to be hard and soft at the same time. It helped me understand why my friend’s urging that I reveal the compassionate, collaborative side of myself as administrator in addition to the decisive, assertive side felt so right. Hard, I now saw, was above the fault; soft was below the fault.

 

I stopped using hard and soft as the language to describe the double set of qualities I regarded as essential to effective administering. I used instead the language of the metaphor, now describing the double set of qualities as the ability to behave in both either/or and both/and ways and thus to move with ease across the fault line of the pyramid. I saw myself as having a wholeness-a totality of human experience and wisdom on which to draw as I did my job-that is inaccessible to people, generally men, who are restricted to life above the fault, and to people, generally women and people of color, who are restricted to life below the fault. I also began to resee the journey I have just described.

 

Looking backward, I saw that I had always revealed, perhaps even overstated, my hard, above-the-fault qualities because I recognized them as the qualities named and therefore valued in the world of school administration, which lies generally above the fault. Initially my soft, below-the-fault qualities were hidden, even from me, because they are unnamed and therefore invisible, and even worse from my perspective at the mid-point of my journey,devalued in the world of school administration. My teacher friend had begun the process for me of naming my gifts rooted in life below the fault; McIntosh, through the broken-pyramid metaphor, gave me the lens that brought my below-the-fault gifts into sharp focus and showed me that they are gifts also possessed by others. I came to recognize that most, if not all, of the successful school administrators I knew were part of a special class of people whose success was grounded in the ease of their movement back and forth across the fault. Because there has been a women’s movement encouraging women to move above the fault, but no men’s movement encouraging men to move below the fault, this special class of people is mostly women. I came to understand that I had been taught to collude in my own blindness and so had spent much of my career in ignorance of the feminist meaning of my administering. I realized that I was seeing anew.

 

In 1975, shortly after beginning my first administrative job, I had joined the Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders (NECEL). Like so many other organizations of this era, NECEL was founded specifically to support and advocate for the pioneer women in its field, in this case school leadership. NECEL was (and is) a vital forum within which I could float my newly forming and very fragile ideas in relative safety. Eager as I was to explore the ramifications of the broken pyramid further, I assisted NECEL in engaging Peggy McIntosh for a year-long seminar series with the NECEL Board of Directors, which we called “Future Directions.” This seminar series was another milestone; the intense discussion convinced all of us that as women school administrators we shared a common experience in how we ran our schools. It was different, we knew, from what we had experienced as former teachers and students. We inferred from anecdotal evidence that it was also different from much of the administering done by our mostly male counterparts. We wrote a series of essays entitled collectively Reconceiving Women and Leadership: First Thoughts. I quote from the Introduction.

 

Perhaps the best way to communicate the essence of what the seminar series has been like so far is to describe our struggle to give this document a title. Through the first two sessions, no one could name what we were talking about. Attempts to do so trailed off into frustration and nothingness, but although we couldn’t name it, we all sensed that it was taking shape. Also we all understood that our inability to name it was significant; so much of what women do and are is unnamed and therefore unvalued. Finally in the third ‘session we hit upon it; collectively we felt the uncomfortable diffuseness crystallize. We believe the name, Reconceiving Women and Leadership: First Thoughtsconveys two very important ideas. First, women leaders who are so effective through the use of predominantly collaborative strategies have been leading us, although we did not realize it, to reshaped conceptions of both women and leadership, namely that women are strong leaders and that effective leadershipis collaborative. Second, the work of articulating these reconceptions is in process and open to all.[5]

 

The legacy of the Future Directions seminar series was a name for the kind of administering that we NECEL members had discovered that we shared: a feminist perspective on school leadership. The name seemed apt because the elements distinguishing our administering, we agreed, were rooted in our shared life below the fault, the sphere we know intimately as a function of our gender. During the seminar series, however, we each described male administrators we knew whose administering also contained the collaborative strategies we saw as grounded in life below the fault (I personally was mentored by two men fitting this description), but we now conceptualized them as sharing with us the ability to cross the fault line. In our case we moved from the bottom up; they moved from the top down. We did not begin to address the question of how it is that a few of us of both genders have learned to traverse the fault, but we did know that our conceptualization of a feminist perspective on school leadership was not for women only.

 

I continued over the next several years to reflect on the metaphor of the broken pyramid, and to struggle with the creation of language to describe its antithesis. The terms hard and soft, and even the improvement in clarity resulting from use of the terms above and below the fault, clearly oversimplified a very complex idea. I wanted to name or symbolize the essential ideas I now understood as the crux of feminist administering: the life lived easily on both sides of the fault line, the necessity of movement across-it depending on circumstances, and that both either/or and both/and behaviors are required for competent administering. I wanted to convey the idea that both modes of life are of equal value, and so I had to break out of pyramidal thinking where top means more valuable and bottom means less valuable. A metaphor that seemed adequate to the task finally occurred to me, that of the double helix.[6]

 

The double helix is the shape of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the molecule encoding our genetic information. Each separate strand of the double helix, winding around and around, is a special sequence of amino acids that determines the form of life. The strands are linked together by bridges of hydrogen bonds. In addition to literally shaping our lives, the double helix seems to describe our lives figuratively as well. Each strand represents a different facet of life as it was in the pyramid. One strand embodies life above the fault, representing the necessity of choice; there are times when life is either/or. The other strand embodies life below the fault, representing the necessity of collaboration; there are times when life is both/and. The hydrogen bonds linking the strands together represent the necessary and frequent passage from one mode of life to the other. The strands are intertwined; neither is above the other, because neither is more valuable than the other, and because it is not possible to live a fully human life on one strand alone.

 

Conceptualization of the double helix metaphor is the latest milestone I have passed on my journey. The double helix now symbolizes and expresses the concept of feminist administering for me. Its power lies in its inclusiveness, encompassing and legitimatizing as it does both either/or and both/and ways of being.

 

FEMINIST TEACHING AND FEMINIST ADMINISTERING: PARALLELS

 

The double helix has become my guide to reseeing. With it in mind, I have been noticing many parallels between descriptions of feminist teaching and feminist administering as I and others have practiced it. In the Introduction to their anthology of essays on feminist teaching, Culley and Portuges describe the praxis of the feminist teacher as

 

enact[ing] a conscious [and unconscious] array of behaviors and attitudes that bear in important ways on the issue of gender. Focus on both the apparent and hidden structures of the classroom yields, among other things, continuing discussion of the question of authority in the feminist classroom. Feminist teachers also explicitly confront the popularly understood schisms between the public and the private, between reason and the emotions. Feminist pedagogy legitimates personal experience as an appropriate arena of intellectual inquiry, and insists on a wedding of affect and intellect. Most feminist educators understand that knowledge is not neutral, that teacher and student alike bring “texts” of their own to the classroom which shape the transactions within it.[7]

 

With only a change of a word here and there, this paragraph becomes an accurate description of the praxis of feminist administering:

 

enacting a conscious (and also unconscious) array of behaviors that bear in important ways on the issue of gender. Focus on both the apparent and hidden structures of schools yields, among other things, continuing discussion of the question of authority in the feminist school. Feminist administrators also explicitly confront the popularly understood schisms between the public and the private, between reason and the emotions. Feminist administering legitimates personal experience as an appropriate source of decision making, and insists on a wedding of affect and intellect. Most feminist administrators understand that decision making is not neutral, that administrator and teacher alike bring “texts” of their own to the school which shape the transactions within it.

 

Analysis of the passage using the language of the double helix reveals a fit between the symbol, the practice of feminist administering it symbolizes, and feminist teaching. The confrontation by the feminist administrator and the feminist teacher of the schisms between the mind and the emotions, the public and the private, constitutes a crossing from strand to strand. The wedding of affect and intellect, the acceptance that both administrators and teachers, or teachers and students, bring texts with them to school or classroom acknowledges the validity of life on both strands.

 

Jane Roland Martin, in her essay critiquing the Holmes Group’s advocacy of a return to the historic tenets of liberal education as a source of reform for teacher education, argues that a fatal flaw of liberal education is its historic roots in the Platonic vision of a special education for the ruling class of guardians.

 

Concerned above all to ensure the unity of the state, yet perceiving private, home, family, marriage and child rearing to be potentially divisive institutions, Plato’s spokesman, Socrates, abolishes these for the guardian class. . . . At a historical moment when child abuse, and family violence are rampant, the failure of guardian education to prepare people to carry out society’s reproductive processes well must be counted a grave deficiency.[8]

 

Martin continues, “A teacher education for the late twentieth century United States which ignores the three C’s of care, concern and connection is at the peril of all of us, indeed of the earth itself.”[9] She states that “it is possible to join together the two sides of the various Platonic dichotomies only if they are equally valued.”[10] Martin is noting that the separation of the two strands of the double helix is an ancient phenomenon, and she is acknowledging that rejoining of the strands can be done only through the spiral structure of the helix. The hierarchy of the pyramid has outlasted its usefulness.

 

Maher notes that feminist scholarship has changed what is studied; she defines a feminist methodology as

 

a conceptualization of knowledge as a comparison of multiple perspectives leading towards a complex and evolving view of reality. Each contributor reflects the perspective of the person giving it, each has something to offer. This methodology replaces the search for a single, objective rationally derived “right answer” that stands outside the historical source or producer of that answer. Instead, it aims for the construction of knowledge from multiple perspectives through co-operative problem solving.[11]

 

Maher’s definition of feminist methodology, though written to describe methods of scholarship, also describes methods of feminist administering. Feminist administrators seek dual perspectives, representing each strand of the helix, leading toward a complex and evolving view of how to realize the mission of a school. Feminist administering aims for the construction of decisions using dual perspectives through cooperative problem solving. Just as feminist scholarly methodology, according to Maher, acknowledges the context in which the knowledge of scholarship is produced, so too feminist administering no longer searches for an abstractly objective and right decision, but rather for a decision grounded in the lives of teachers and students and the community of the school.

 

Susan Laird’s analysis of “woman’s true profession” uses Maher’s definition of feminist method to argue for serious consideration of the multiple meanings of the phrase:

 

  1. The descriptive thesis, which identifies teaching as a profession practiced mostly by women, using a statistical description to blur the many differences among its practitioners.
  2. The normative thesis, which describes teaching as a “true” profession for women since it is a natural extension of mothering.
  3. The problematic thesis, which describes teaching as a problematic professional choice for women because they will be devalued through association with its low status.
  4. The negative thesis, which is the obverse of the problematic thesis, describing teaching as a devalued profession because of its historic association with women.
  5. The critical thesis, which acknowledges the critical significance of the other four but “may constitute a heuristic for what the teacher needs to know.”[12]

 

Laird continues, “The critical thesis emphasizes the importance for teachers of both sexes to reflect upon the oppressive limitations, as well as the alternate possibilities for education, that inhere in their work’s historic identification with subordinated and domesticated maternalism.”[13]

 

Laird is implicitly acknowledging that teachers, like all groups living below the fault, are oppressed, and that the fact of this oppression has significant consequences for the practice of the profession. For the feminist administrator, originally a member of the oppressed group and marked with the experience of that oppression, Laird’s comments are a reminder not to forget about the existence of the fault line in schools. It is unlikely that more than a few people in any given school, if any at all, will share the feminist administrator’s understanding of the double helix and its consequences for the practice of school administration. The question of what to do in the face of such ignorance is the way station of the journey where I am currently located.

 

The use of the double helix to symbolize feminist administering and the identification of parallels between feminist teaching and feminist administering are important first steps toward a definition of feminist administration. However, just as Culley and Portuges suggest that the more accurate term is feminist pedagogies,[14] so too much work is required to clarify and establish the usefulness of the term feminist administration. More voices bringing additional experience to bear on the concept are needed.

 

TRANSFORMING SCHOOLS: FROM THE BROKEN PYRAMID TO THE DOUBLE HELIX

 

Conley, Schmidle, and Shedd note that the second wave of the current reform movement has shifted emphasis from prescriptive changes such as longer school days and increased graduation requirements to concern with increasing the status of teaching as a profession, including some sort of increased participation by teachers in the management of schools. They go on to survey the organizational development literature on the desirability of employee participation in organizational decision making, noting a distinction between employee involvement in strategic organizational decisions and in operational decisions. They further note that “the case for employee involvement in operational decision making derives from the need to take advantage of employees’ intimate knowledge of work processes; the case for employee involvement in strategic decision making is more likely to turn on employee knowledge of client or customer needs.”[15] Acknowledging that both of these conditions clearly apply to teachers, Conley, Schmidle, and Shedd go on to inventory various forums for teacher participation: traditional committees, new quality circles, peer supervision, and career ladders. While noting the advantages and disadvantages of each, they also indicate that no one of these forums is yet institutionalized and accepted widely by teachers or administrators as an effective way to increase teacher participation in school management.

 

In essence, as Conley, Schmidle, and Shedd illustrate, we really do not know what shared decision making or collaborative leadership or teacher empowerment means for the daily life of principals, teachers, and students in schools. We do know that these concepts, often used interchangeably, in some way refer to redefined relationships between teachers and administrators. Given the absence of any rigorous, widely accepted definition of these terms in practice, I conceive of them as other, less metaphorical, versions of the double helix. The power of the double helix is that it suggests ways of making progress toward realization of these essentially synonymous concepts both by assisting in identifying the source of some of the problems with things now being tried and by suggesting altogether new things to try. The latest phase of my journey has engaged me in the latter.

 

Among the things I remember from my journey to date is my initial blindness. I did not know that I was moving back and forth from one strand of the double helix to another as I administered schools. I know there are many others who are similarly blind today, and that some of these have begun the journey at even more remote way stations than I in the sense that not only are they ignorant of the necessity of movement from one strand to another, but they are locked on one strand unaware of the existence of the other. The task then becomes one of helping people to see, just as my friend did for me.

 

Among the other things I remember from my journey to date is that I taught my colleagues how to cross from strand to strand. When I discovered that the staff of my school did not understand my soft qualities as a high school principal, and in fact resisted them initially, I responded by teaching those qualities to them so they could join me in their use. Such a strategy was risky in the sense that I could not foretell the outcome, but I trusted that the inclusion and personal validation, and the quality of the decisions made, would be so intrinsically rewarding as to create a positive spiral that would continue of its own momentum. Experience confirmed the wisdom of this trust.

 

Teaching of the sort that I did as a high school principal is the key to leading other educators to the vision of the double helix. The parallels between feminist pedagogy and feminist administering are important here; they guide us in the planning and doing of such teaching. We must start where our colleagues are, validate their experience in schools, suggest new interpretations of that experience as they demonstrate their readiness to hear, and model how to behave in whichever of the two modes they need to understand better.

 

Starting where our colleagues are requires appreciation of the history of education. In general our schools operate hierarchically as factories with teachers as the workers. Teacher unions have arisen to protect the workers against exploitation by management. The relationship between these two groups is thus adversarial; the below-the-fault group of the broken pyramid, the teachers, struggle against the above-the-fault group, the administrators. The existence of the fault in schools, although it varies in depth and breadth among schools, is an omnipresent feature of daily life for both groups.

 

Crossing the fault for either group, given a hundred years of experience demonstrating that such a feat is impossible and undesirable, is risky business. I did not come to an understanding of the crossing unaided; it is absolutely unrealistic to expect others to do so, particularly those beginning the journey at the most remote way stations. Teachers trapped below the fault need to end their silence and find their voices; administrators trapped above the fault need to silence their voices and find their listening. On hearing the other, each group can become aware of the two strands and their connecting bridges. Reseeing of this profound sort can happen only with the assistance of a teacher.

 

The teachers must be those of us who already see and appreciate the double helix. Our formal role (or gender) matters little; it is possible to be a principal and teach one’s staff as I did. (Such teaching is one of the goals of the Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders.) It is possible, although harder because the norms of the hierarchy prohibit information from flowing upward, to be a classroom teacher and to teach one’s principal. It is possible to be a college professor teaching future teachers and administrators, and contributing to the scholarship in which such new metaphors as the double helix are rooted. The essential act is to teach.

 

Weaving these ideas together-that is, appreciating that helping others to resee is my goal, understanding the historic barriers to reseeing, knowingfrom experience that teaching how to resee can work, and using elements of feminist teaching as a guide- I have conceived a project through which I am trying to follow my own counsel. My work now focuses on being a feminist teacher who is trying to help teachers and administrators see and appreciate the power of the double helix. The current rhetoric has done some advance work for me, creating a readiness, even eagerness, on the part of many to learn. With the generous support of the Connecticut Principals’ Academy, and in collaboration with my colleague J. Patrick Howley, I am working in four high schools with collaborative leadership teams composed of the principal and teachers where we take on a task identified by them as significant to their daily school lives. Thus we use their experience as text. We also examine the process by which we interact to complete that task, looking always to name the both/and as well as the either/or aspects of our work, and we note our crossing over the bridges. We are learning more each day about how to assist each other to an understanding of the double helix, and my colleague and I hope to report the results of this work in detail elsewhere.

 

I describe our work as teachers of feminist administering ever so briefly to give an example of how two people can work in schools to assist its administrators and teachers in the transformation of the school as broken pyramid to the school as double helix. The need for such work is great, and the possibilities for its form are limited only by the creativity of the people interested in doing it.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Feminist administering, symbolized by the double helix with its intertwining strands and connecting bridges, is an inclusive mode of leadership in schools practiced by people who understand the necessity of the both/and as well as the either/or ways of being in their work. Its inclusiveness requires that both teachers and administrators participate in the decision making in schools, and thus it conceptually overlaps with several thrusts of the current reform movement: teacher empowerment, shared decision making, school restructuring.

 

Using the elements of feminist teaching as a guide, feminist administering can be taught by educators to one another. By beginning where the learners are, by acknowledging the professional experiences of the learners as text, by modeling collaborative behavior in groups, teachers of feminist administering can bring others to an awareness of both strands of the double helix, an appreciation of the equity of value between both strands, and an ability to cross from strand to strand. The outcome of such successful teaching on a wide scale would be a major step toward the restructuring of schools.

 

Notes



[1]Frances Maher and Mary Kay Tetrault, “Feminist Teachers, Feminist Researchers, and Knowledge Construction: Examples of Interactive Teaching and Interpretation” (Paper given at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting, San Francisco, 1989).

[2]Adrienne Rich, “Taking Women Students Seriously,” in Gendered Styles: The Dynamics of Feminist Teaching, ed. Margo Culley and Catherine Portuges (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), pp. 21-28.

[3]The Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders is an advocacy organization for women in school leadership with offices at 83 Post Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.

[4]Peggy McIntosh, “Interactive Phases of Curriculum Re-Vision: A Feminist Perspective,” Working Paper No. 124, 1983. (Available from Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, Wellesley, MA 02181.)

[5]Helen k. Regan, Reconceiving Women and Leadership (Sudbury, Mass.: Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders, 1987), p. 3.

[6]Helen B. Regan, “Future Directions: From the Broken Pyramid to the Double Helix” (Address given on the occasion of the tenth anniversary celebration of the founding of the Connecticut Affiliate of the Northeast Coalition of Educational Leaders, 1987).

[7]Culley and Portuges, Gendered Styles, p. 2.

[8]Jane Roland Martin, “Reforming Teacher Education, Rethinking Liberal Education,” Teachers College Record 88, no. 3 (Spring 1987): 407.

[9]Ibid., p. 408.

[10]Ibid., p. 409.

[11]Frances Maher, “Classroom Pedagogy and the New Scholarship on Women” in Gendered Styles, ed. Culley and Portuges, p. 33.

[12]Susan Laird, “Reforming Woman’s True Profession: A Case for Feminist Pedagogy in Teacher Education,” Harvard Educational Review 58, no. 4 (November 1988): 461.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Culley and Portuges, Gendered Styles, p. 2.

[15]Sharon C. Conley, Timothy Schmidle and Joseph B. Shedd, “Teacher Preparation in the Management of School Systems” Teachers College Record 90, no. 2 (Winter 1988): 261.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 91 Number 4, 1990, p. 565-577
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 404, Date Accessed: 12/8/2021 3:50:33 AM

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