Principles of Power

Women Superintendents and the Riddle of the Heart

By C. Cryss Brunner

Subjects: Educational Administration
Series: SUNY series in Women in Education
Paperback : 9780791445709, 219 pages, April 2000
Hardcover : 9780791445693, 219 pages, April 2000

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Table of contents

Charol Shakeshaft


Part One
Mystery: Intangible Insights

Chapter 1
Mystery and Metaphor: Introduction to Part 1
Raymond M. Olderman

Chapter 2
Gathering Intangible Data: The Women Superintendents and the Assembly

Chapter 3
Embodying Intangible Data: The Women As Warriors

Part Two
Metaphor: Articulating Intangibles

Chapter 4
The Warrior's Path: The Riddle of the Heart and the Seven Principles of Power

Chapter 5
Principle One: Knowing the Battleground

Chapter 6
Principle Two: Discarding the Unnecessary

Chapter 7
Principle Three: Choosing Battles

Chapter 8
Principle Four: Taking Risks

Chapter 9
Principle Five: Seeking Retreat

Chapter 10
Principle Six: Compressing Time

Chapter 11
Principle Seven: Exercising Power

Part Three
Motion: Intangibles in Action

Chapter 12
Impeccable Practice: Three Results

Chapter 13
First Result: Laughing at Self

Chapter 14
Second Result: Patience without Fretting

Chapter 15
Third Result: Improvisation

Chapter 16
Castaneda and Me

About the Author




Shares perspectives from twelve successful women school superintendents.


Women who seek to be school superintendents or who want to improve their chances for success in the superintendency can clearly benefit from the insights and cultural wisdom of women who have attained the position. Principles of Power shares perspectives from twelve successful women superintendents and puts them in a cultural context that highlights what they can teach us about their methods for success.

To illustrate the underlying behaviors that helped them succeed, Brunner uses as a framework the system of beliefs gathered by Carlos Castaneda from Yaqui Indian warrior training. Castaneda calls this system the "riddle of the heart. " To understand the riddle of the heart, women must be able to simultaneously comprehend and use two different perceptions of the world: that which is and that which is becoming. To be able to solve the riddle, warriors develop mind set and a discipline that allow them to get the best out of any conceivable situation. This book is the story of these warriors¬—twelve women superintendents—and how they have solved the riddle of the heart.

C. Cryss Brunner is Assistant Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the editor of Sacred Dreams: Women and the Superintendency, also published by SUNY Press.


"The application of Carlos Castaneda's notions is novel and refreshing. Brunner uses metaphors to highlight sensitive areas of school administration. For example, the use of 'knowing the battleground' to demonstrate how educational administration is experienced by women downplays explanations lodged in politics while it provides insights into how relationships guide action. " — Flora Ida Ortiz, author of Schoolhousing: Planning and Designing Educational Facilities

"Practitioners will appreciate the inspiring tone and the pervasive messages that quality school leadership skills can be acquired, that problems typically confronting women administrators can be understood and remedied. " — Jackie M. Blount, author of Destined to Rule the Schools: Women and the Superintendency, 1873–1995