Sketching a relational approach to principals’ time use

Year: 2016

Author: Eacott, Scott

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Across the social sciences there has been increased scholarly attention to matters of time. Evidence of this heightened interest can be found in sociology (Adkins, 2009, 2011, 2014), human services (Colley, Henriksson, Niemeyer, & Seddon, 2012), education (Duncheon & Tierney, 2013), teacher education (Eacott & Hodges, 2014), and educational administration and leadership (Eacott, 2013, 2015). This paper contributes to this ongoing dialogue and debate through a concern with issues of temporality and the study of principals’ time use. The history of educational administration and leadership, courtesy of a foundation in Taylorism and Fordist models of management, has adopted a particular version of temporality – one based on units of the clock. I trouble this orthodoxy on the basis of the clock operating externally to practice. This problem is identified as concerning a reliance on an entity/substantialist approach that overlays a particular version of time on practice. The research object (e.g. principals’ practice) remains unchanged as time is nothing more than a measurement construct. I argue that to understand the principalship through clock time is to miscomprehend social practice.To overcome the ‘Neo-Taylorism’ (Gronn, 1982) of this orthodoxy I offer a relational methodology (Eacott, 2015). A focus on relations rather than entities moves beyond the external overlaying of a measure to the inscription of practice in spatio-temporal conditions. This paper therefore posits that temporality rather than time is a crucial lens for the theorization of educational administration and leadership including the ongoing recasting and potentialities of principals’ labour.