UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Calm's not my style" : attending to multiple enactments of mindfulness in a primary classroom Semenec, Paulina


The problem of in/attention among school children has been the focus of many educational interventions over the past several years, including mindfulness education. Growing in popularity in schools, a central aim of these interventions has been to cultivate attention in children and young people in order to make room for learning. Informed by a year-long inquiry in a primary school classroom, this dissertation attends to the multiple, shifting, unexpected and divergent ways in which “mindfulness” is enacted by children in school spaces in ways that often overspill the spacetime boundaries of the classroom. This dissertation troubles how discourses embedded in curriculum and everyday classroom practices position children as coherent, knowable, and agentic subjects who are responsible for their own mis/behaviour, and offers alternative, more speculative responses to the “problem” of in/attention among children. The chapters bring together various forms of fieldwork data, multiple (and often divergent) strands of theories and approaches, and speculative writings. They move away from a focus on formal lesson plans and classroom interventions, and instead work to “intervene” in the assumptions and practices regarding what is deemed important to pay attention to within the contours of school life. The chapters also introduce more than human agencies that trouble notions of child-centrism, rationality and self-regulation. Mindfulness becomes reconfigured in a way that includes attention to not only the autonomous, agentic child, but also the flows of affect, the vibrancy of materials and spaces, as well as atmospheres that make different enactments of in/attention possible and visible in school spaces.

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