The purpose of this paper is to examine Finnish ninth grade pupils’ (15-16 years) perspectives on hot school lunches and consider the potential of these perspectives as a resource for food and health education.
Data include observations, essays, and visually elicitated focus group discussions from a larger qualitative case study. Data were collected during the term 2012-2013.
Pupils considered the lunch break as their free time and valued discussions with friends. The taste of school food was important for them. Pupils solved contradicting expectations connected to school lunches through constructing social hierarchies, making compromises, and conforming to peers’ or general opinions. Desire for social belonging and independence were important justifications for breaking food-related rules.
Due to the focus on one school, further research needs to address contextual variation in different schools and age groups, as well as the viewpoint of teachers.
To genuinely engage pupils, potential contradictions between adults’ and adolescents’ perspectives need attention. Understanding food-related social determinants and justifications for food practices from pupils’ perspective are valuable pedagogical assets for teachers. Pupils’ speech and activities that counteract formal aims can be seen also as possibilities for dialogue, rather than merely problems to be changed by adults.
The paper describes how pupils’ perspectives to school lunch practices are in tension with the educational aims of school lunches, thus contributing to developing adolescent-centered food and health education in secondary schools.
Janhonen, K., Mäkelä, J. and Palojoki, P. (2016), "Adolescents’ school lunch practices as an educational resource", Health Education, Vol. 116 No. 3, pp. 292-309. https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-10-2014-0090Download as .RIS
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