Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Brewer, Curtis A

Committee Member

Lindle , Jane C

Committee Member

Mathews , Sarah A

Committee Member

Stewart , Joseph

Abstract

Federal education policy places increased pressure on the knowledge of today's educational leader. In particular, principals are scrutinized in their ability to implement policy. To aid in successful implementation practice, researchers have provided explanations of and strategies for principals as they engage with policy.
The purpose of this study was to explore the particularities of the sensorial dimension of the principal-engaged-with-policy's subject position. When the principal-engaged-with-policy is represented in research, policy, and leadership preparation literature, it is done with reference not to the lived experiences of the subject position of the individuals who inhabit it, but instead to desired traits and behaviors that have been extracted from their lived--embodied--particularities. This study asked: what does the subject position of the principal-engaged-with-policy look like for six South Carolina school principals?
To answer this and other subquestions, this study used four interlocking methods: critical policy analysis, photomethods, sensory research methods, and reconstructive horizon analysis. Each method provided me with different tools through which to picture, represent, engage, and study my unit of analysis: the subject position of the principal-engaged-with-policy.
One of the most salient features of this study was the idiosyncratic and dynamic nature of the subject positions of the six principals-engaged-with-policy. My theoretical framework helped me to highlight the undeniable fact that policy implementers have bodies and that these bodies serve as a medium through which principals engage with policy. This embodied knowledge was represented in the form of the senses, the body, health (whether the body is working properly or not), and feelings during our conversations. Also salient was the difficulty that language posed for the expression of this embodied knowledge
Thinking about policy implementation by principals in terms of embodiment reminds us that we never leave our bodies. Living in the world means that there are mediums through which we come to understand the world. One of these mediums is our body. Thinking about policy in terms of the available discourses illustrates that it is possible to not 'find' embodied engagements with policy, but that this is only because of a limited definition of not only what policy includes, but the words we have to talk about embodiment. The study concludes with implications for research, practice, and policy.

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