08 SES 02, Normativity and values in health education
Health education and health promotion in schools are frequently mistaken for one another. This is not surprising given that language used to describe these fields and their practices tends to overlap, and that, depending on context, the terms can be used interchangeably. The purpose of this paper is to examine the often taken for granted assumptions that underpin approaches to school based health education, many of which are problematically informed by what often become narrow health promotion agendas. Drawing on work in these two fields, as well as case study and ethnographic data from Australia and New Zealand, we consider the impact that health promotion has had on school based health education over time. Such an inquiry is especially interesting in these two national contexts, because both countries have specific curriculum space for health education as a discipline of study, as well as various health promotion initiatives that target and impact schools and young people. In this sense, health education occupies a specific place in the curriculum; one that can be interpreted as quite separate from, and even critical of, health promotion agendas. While, on the one hand, health promotion more broadly has been significant in shifting policy discourse towards more equitable and empowering practices, school-based health education continues to be characterised by hyper-individualised risk-based approaches that actually serve to victim blame individuals for poor health (Fitzpatrick & Tinning, 2014; Leahy, 2014). On the other hand, curriculum policy does enable schools to engage in far more holistic and sociologically-informed programmes, ones in which health education and health promotion can inform each other in more productive and educative ways. Tensions between policy and practice continue to endure, while health promotion gets more funding than teacher development in, or for, health education. This is further exacerbated by the continual deference to health promotion and health science academics while education scholars and their work in schools is continually ignored.
This paper draws on case study and ethnographic data from schools in Australia and New Zealand. In so doing, we aim to interrogate the assumptions underlying health education programmes in schools, and to explore the differences between programmes that draw on risk-based discourses to teach about health, and those that approach health as a discipline of study. How health promotion is implicated in both is of interest. New Zealand-based data are drawn from a critical ethnographic (Madison, 2012), study of health education in schools. Methods in that 3-year project included observing and participating in health education classes, research discussions, participating in student-led groups, as well as interviews. Australian-based data are drawn from interviews with teachers and policy analysis. The overall aim of the project was to determine the state of health education in Victoria.
While the continued dominance of risk-discourses in health education is a disappointing outcome, it is not surprising given that both neoliberalism and neoconservatism have provided us with dominant logics in health and education for some time. In seeking to remedy this, there are of course a number of tactics we could put forward. For example, we could continue to argue for better quality teacher education, given that nationally and internationally there are clear issues related to the quality and amount of teacher education and teachers receive (see Leahy et al 2016). We could also continue to suggest that outside agencies need to be vetted to ensure that the programs and resources they develop are connected to curriculum intentions and cognisant of students’ learning desires. Rather than repeat these usual critiques, we instead want to (re)imagine what health education might be, if it were focused more on education. Fitzpatrick and Tinning (2013) called such an approach learning about health, rather than learning for health (see also Gard & Leahy, 2009). This draws attention to what it means to be truly educated about health. This change necessarily requires a shift to what Leahy et al (2016) have referred to as health education’s usual pedagogical force. This effectively can open up inquiry lines into what constitutes health education as it is currently imagined, and how that may limit us as we work towards empowering lifelong learners. In this, health education in schools would focus on the study of health, drawing on multiple disciplines to help young people understand health. This presents us with a very different pedagogical relation as health promotion becomes an object of health education - as an area for critical analysis and a site of learning.
Fitzpatrick, K. & Tinning, R. (2014). Health education’s fascist tendencies: A cautionary exposition. Critical Public Health, 24, (2), 132-142 Fitzpatrick, K. & Tinning, R. (Eds). (2014). Considering the politics and practice of health education. In Fitzpatrick, K. & Tinning, R. (Eds). Health Education: Critical Perspectives (p. 1-14). London: Routledge. Leahy, D. (2014). Assembling a health[y] subject: Risky and shameful pedagogies in health education. Critical Public Health, 24(2), 171-181. Leahy, D., Burrows, L., McCuaig, L., Wright, J., & Penney, D. (2016). School health education in changing times: Curriculum, pedagogies and partnerships. Abingdon, Oxon, London: Routledge. Madison, D. S. (2012). Critical ethnography: Method, ethics and performance (2nd ed). LA: Sage publications Ltd.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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