The chapter deals with the language of teacher thinking research, and does so in terms of the perspective elaborated by post-structuralist theoreticians such as Foucault (1970, 1979) and Reiss (1982). On this view one looks at the ongoing praxis of a given community or cultural group through the various forms of discourse which make up the social text of that group; the particular signifying practices of a given group are both constituted by and constitutive of the discursive field within which members of the group live and function. Another way of putting it is that ‘language provides the conceptual categories which organize thought into predetermined patterns and set the boundaries on discourse’ (Bowers, 1987). Further, the ability to determine these conceptual categories constitutes power, and groups who have the possibility of ensuring that significant aspects of their own reality are reflected in prevailing conceptual categories thereby exercise power over other groups whose situation and experience does not have this legitimacy as

expressed in names, concepts and definitions of their reality. This perspective was drawn upon by Bowers in an important study of the conceptual underpinnings of liberal educational thought, a philosophical work which has implications for our own concerns since Bowers sees the teacher as potentially exercising ‘a significant form of control over the language process (over how initial conceptual maps are constituted and thus will influence subsequent thought and political behavior)’, and thus considers that teachers ‘have a responsibility for contributing to the conceptual foundations of communicative competence’ (p. 154). Thus the perspective I invoke here has a bearing not only on our understanding of what we have been up to as researchers but also on our educational purposes generally. The chapter will be looking at some of the categories in terms of which research in our field has been organized, and will ask where these categories come from and what part of realitywhose reality-they reflect. The chapter does not, however, constitute a review of the research; rather, the three themes were chosen because they seemed to be both interesting and important, and to make it possible to look at a fair selection of examples from the research (though some areas within the research on teacher thinking have not been attended to). The analysis of discursive practices calls for different kinds of questions from those we are accustomed to asking. First of all we need to ask quite directly about the mode of discourse in the field: around what concepts and distinctions is the field organized, what terms are used and what assumptions, commitments and values underlie this choice of terms? Second, what places are available in the discourse for possible subjects, and who can assume these various subject functions (Foucault, 1979)? Third, what can we say about the way that this discourse is produced and about how it exists in the world: in what situations do we as researchers work with teachers, in what forms do we publish our work and where does it circulate, what is the impact of the particular institutional practices which attend it, and what consequences are there to its presence, whether in book, article, conference presentation or report form?