Hacking Health(y) Food Education: Mapping Australian teacher education and a auto-ethnographic case study

Year: 2016

Author: Powell, Darren, Welch, Rosie, Wright, Jan, Leahy, Deana

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Food and nutrition is one of the 12 focus areas of the Australian Curriculum: HPE. While there is a growing field of food pedagogy and food studies scholarship (for instance Anderson, 2015; Flowers & Swan, 2015 and Leahy, Gray, Cutter-Mackenzie & Eames, 2015) as well as a burgeoning cultural culinary industry (e.g. MasterChef and school Kitchen Garden programs), school health education remains relatively unchanged from a prescriptive nutritional knowledge base. In this paper we set out to disrupt the commonplace pedagogies of good/bad food binaries or disease prevention in health education (Gibson & Dempsey, 2015; Welch, McMahon & Wright, 2012). We begin this paper by reporting on the findings from an audit conducted on health education teacher education (HETE) in 2014 that sought to examine how HETE prepares teachers to teach about food. Specifically, we map 35 out of 39 University programs across Australia that have educational coursework and review where the study of food fits into Australian teacher education. Here we are particularly interested to consider the ways food is addressed in teacher education courses and what that might mean for how teachers make decisions about food pedagogies in their future classrooms. Given the critiques and our audit findings, we present preliminary findings from a unique case study of a specific food, health and wellbeing Unit taught as part of a HETE course at a Victorian University. We draw on a Foucauldian notion of dispositf to theorise possibilities of movement within existing structural constraints of the field. And, we provide an auto-ethnographic analysis of what happens when we, as teacher educators, attempt to disrupt simplistic pedagogies of ‘healthy’ food promotion through deliberate assessment and fieldwork activities. Interviews with student teachers, collaborators and autobiographical reflection, forms the data that we draw from to discuss possibilities for bringing a richer range of food knowledges to the educational space. We also consider recent curriculum reform and gradualism (Macdonald, 2013) as the backdrop to hacking the health(y) food education assemblage.