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Mastering Life through Skills: Risk Prevention through ‘Standards of the Self’ in Health and Life-Skills Education

Line T. Hilt (University of Bergen, Norway)
Hanne Riese (University of Bergen, Norway)

Educational Standardisation in a Complex World

ISBN: 978-1-80071-590-5, eISBN: 978-1-80071-589-9

Publication date: 20 April 2022


This chapter contributes to the field of educational standardisation by analysing and discussing the relationship between risk conceptions, standards and subjectivation in education. The empirical case for investigation is the implementation of a new interdisciplinary topic in Norwegian curriculum, called ‘health and life skills’, a topic that has gained momentum in educational systems worldwide in recent decades. We perform a theoretical reading of policy and curriculum document through the perspective of Foucault's notion of governmentality. Our reading suggests understanding ‘health and life skills’ as a soft governance practice, instigating ‘standards of the self’ that direct and control the conduct of young people in the Norwegian curriculum. Furthermore, the chapter discusses how becoming a subject in modern education implies acquiring a set of standard skills derived from societally perceived risks thought to affect the mental and physical health of young people. Building on this analysis, we discuss if standards can be regarded as measures aimed at managing and safeguarding against societal risks, and the consequences this may have for subjectivation processes in education.



Hilt, L.T. and Riese, H. (2022), "Mastering Life through Skills: Risk Prevention through ‘Standards of the Self’ in Health and Life-Skills Education", Riese, H., Hilt, L.T. and Søreide, G.E. (Ed.) Educational Standardisation in a Complex World, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 143-162.



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