For the interested teacher, teacher educator and educational researcher seeking an entry point into how mindfulness relates to teachers’ work, the burgeoning and divergent appeals for the relevance of mindfulness to teachers can be bewildering. The purpose of this paper is to offer teachers, teacher educators and educational researchers a conceptual framework for understanding the different orientations and sources of mindfulness as it has been recommended to teachers.
Using Foucault’s (1972) concept of “discursive formations” as a heuristic device, this paper argues that mindfulness as pitched to teachers can be helpfully understood as arising from three distinct orientations.
Statements about mindfulness and its relevance to teachers emerge from three distinct discursive formations – traditional, psychological and engaged – that each constitute the “problem” faced by teachers respectively as suffering, stress or alienation. Specific conceptions of mindfulness are then advanced as a solution to these problems by certain authoritative subjects and institutions in ways that are taken as legitimate within each discursive formation.
Apart from offering a historical and discursive mapping of the different discursive formations from which mindfulness is pitched to teachers, this paper also highlights how each of these orientations impies a normative view of what a teacher should be. Suggestions for further historical research are also offered along the lines of genealogy, epistemology and ontology.
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