The anthology Nature and Development (Natur og danning) (2016), edited by Bjørg Oddrun Hallås and Gunnar Karlsen, includes contributions that demonstrate how nature and the local environment can serve as important arena in planning, implementing and assessing various pedagogical practices in kinderga
rten, school and higher education. In the anthology, the concept of ‘development’ is represented in accordance to its use in the diverse subject areas included. The concept of ‘nature’ is broadly understood, including nature itself, as practices that take place in nature, and things that deal with n
ature. In addition, the articles consider how products of nature can influence the development process.
One of the approaches of this anthology can be illustrated with reference to the article by Holthe, Fossgard and Wergedahl entitled The school’s food landscape as an arena for development (Skolens matlandskap som arena for danning). The authors begin by defining food both as nature and culture, considering food to be a product of each person’s identity. The food landscape of a school includes the places and contexts in which children eat and come in contact with food, such as the school subject Food and health, school meals and the pre- and post-school programmes. This landscape plays a central role in pupil’s development in relation to food. In the article, development in relation to food is limited to food as nature; in other words, to health-related and environmental dimensions.
The authors consider the historical development of the subject Food and health and of school meals, and make the point that the health dimension has always been at the core. School meals have changed over time from shared meals – the Oslo breakfast and later Sigdal’s breakfast – to a model in which children bring a packed lunch. The author’s problematise this breakdown of the joint effort involving political and nutritional interests into political disagreement regarding school meals.
The quality of the teachers is decisive for the quality of the education pupils receive. A large portion of the teachers responsible for Food and health lack any formal education in the subject. While some schools have teachers who have the appropriate education, they may not teach the subject due to, for example, the total resources available for the grade.
In the author’s opinion, primary schools do not seem aware of the food landscape, and how this contributes to the establishment of good development processes in which clear links and integration are established between the subject Food and health, school meals and meals in the pre-and post-school programmes. In primary school, the links between the health dimension and nature are much more obvious than those between the environmental dimension and nature. In this article, Holthe, Fossgard and Wergedahl have contributed to an increased focus on the need to further develop schools so that food is seen from a learning and development perspective, and to focus on both the health and the environmental dimensions that characterise the food landscape pupils encounter at school. This requires the collaboration. The issue of a national school-meal programme needs to be placed on the political agenda again. In addition, teacher competence needs to be raised, both for those who are responsible for food and meal supervision in schools, and for those who teach Food and health.
Eli Kristin Aadland, 09.04.2018