Theses Doctoral

Quiet Revolutions: a Collaborative Case Study of Mindfulness in One Curricular Discourse Community

Dauphinais, Jennifer Catherine

Mindfulness has woven through American education for decades as an enduring concept aimed at reforming teachers, students, and classrooms. Signified as a quiet revolution in media and education policy today, our youth have been rebranded and schools remarketed as A Nation at Hope, with promises of mindfulness and contemplative Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies. Yet, competing discourses of mindfulness incite youth across various goals and subjectivities. While the predominant global and national mindfulness discourse in education marks out students with preferred characteristics from those deemed insufficiently prepared to experience wellness, connectedness, and success, counter-narratives construct mindful students as transcending dominant social norms and movement toward collective freedom. In considering how such highly politicized discourses are mobilized in SEL curricula, this study problematized the decontextualized circulation of mindfulness discourses in the construction of a silenced and mindful subject.

As a White teacher attending to the development of a critical lens that questions curriculum and policy, this study disrupts the researcher’s position as a former SEL trainer in a diverse school district. A critical whiteness studies lens established that several commonly used mindfulness-based interventions apprised a construction of students that works better for mass schooling systems rather than for distinct sociocultural identities. This inquiry provided a different lens on curricular decision- making by working from a local schooling context where stakeholders collaboratively decide on students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs. In drawing on a conceptualization of discourse communities that recognizes how language and agency are mobilized in advocating for community goals, this interpretive case study inquired about community decision-making alongside stakeholders grappling with concepts and power relations to legitimize their work. The case was theoretically bound by critical discourse analysis, which traced the meaning-making of this community across individual andcollective texts. Thus, a collaborative study of individual and collective stakeholder discourse was read alongside the school’s curricular materials for a translocal comparison of discourse across individual and collective responses. This study may explain some ways that anti-racist discourse(s) figure in negotiating mindfulness and SEL for marginalized youth and how practitioners navigate toward humanizing, race-visible responses to mindfulness practices in their communities.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Dauphinais_tc.columbia_0055E_11137.pdf Dauphinais_tc.columbia_0055E_11137.pdf application/pdf 2.41 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Friedrich, Dani
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2021