Doubling up: The representational and reform work of principal associations

Year: 2001

Author: Thomson, Pat

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

One of the self appointed tasks of principals' associations is to represent principals and to promote the status of their work. This can take the form of industrial activity around wages and conditions and also substantive engagement in various professional development activities. In recent times, principal associations have also begun to represent principals' work by developing rubrics of professional practice used for professional accreditation. The task of principals association can thus be said to be intimately concerned with 'double representation'.

Based on analysis of some employer and professional association Australian principal competency rubrics, and using Bourdieu 's theorisations of 'field', 1 argue that in order to 'play the game' of representation, principals associations must produce textual versions of principals' work that have considerable overlap with those produced by employers. The differences however point to the ways in which associations continue to have legitimacy with members.

Playing this duplicitous game of representation means that associations must tread a strategic path through capitulation, simulation and resistance to required policies, roles and tasks. However, the increasing power and influence of principal associations is not just a product of their adeptness at playing two-handed games. 1 produce evidence to suggest that it is also because they have moved beyond the play of double representations to take up new positions in the educational 'field' as change agents.