Dannelsesperspektiver om skolemad og måltider: En undersøgelse af læreres tilgange til og opfattelser af skolemadsordninger i København


Mikkel Jacobsen


Dannelse, Maddannelse, skolemad, frokostpause, food literacy, handlekompetence


English summary


The aim of this dissertation is to study the teachers’ practice and attitude towards school food and meals in EAT-schools and madskoler (food schools) in Copenhagen, as well as the possibility for different forms of food literacy and bildung in more general terms. The EAT and madskole programs, concepts and practices, which is the case of this dissertation, emphasize that eating in schools is more than food and nutrition.  The focus is cooking and eating in schools as a pedagogic, social and educational arena. The dissertation wishes to examine how teachers relate to the concepts of EAT and madskoler and which concepts and perceptions of bildung are expressed and practiced among teacher in relation to pupils. The central analytical concepts that are applied to address this question are sociability (selskabelighed) and food as common denominator (mad som fællesnævner) in theories by Georg Simmel, food as the formation of common identity in theories by Claude Fischler and action competence (handlekompetence) in theories by Bjarne Bruun Jensen and Karsten Schnack.

In terms of methodology, fieldwork was carried out in six schools representing different approaches to the implementation of pedagogical aspects of school food. Of the six schools, three are EAT schools and three are madskoler (food schools), and interviews have been conducted with teachers, kitchen staff and headmasters, as well as the director of Københavns Madhus. Qualitative interviews were combined with close observation of teachers’ and pupils’ practices in class, during lunch breaks as well as kitchen activities in order to get a closer contextual understanding of how school food was implemented and practically organized and what kind of social interaction it lead to. A central finding was that there are significant gaps between the pedagogical concepts of EAT and madskoler and the actual understanding of these concepts among teachers as well as the practical ability to implement those concepts. Occasionally there were also notable difference between what informants said about their experiences of the programs and my own observations of how they worked with them in practice. Furthermore, I used the central analytical concepts to identify different forms of bildung and food literacy in the analysis of the empirical data and how they overlapped or were expressed differently by the teachers in and across the two different food programs and concepts.

In terms of method and analysis, I found that my original approach entailing normative ideas that school food programs are largely successful and unproblematic was challenged by my informants, not the least as I spend more time with teachers and pupils. This bias was a consequence of being closely affiliated to the central actors implementing school food in Copenhagen (Københavns Madhus) and the PhD project partly being funded by these actors, having specific interests in the outcome of the research. In order to address this possible bias and risk, I gradually attempted to distance myself from the original preconceptions of these programs’ success and became more critical of ideals and purposes over time as a response to my findings that the programs entail significant flaws and challenges. 

The dissertation includes a review of existing research in the field. While some research has been carried out regarding food and eating in a sociological perspective most literature and research concerning food and eating in schools predominantly focus on nutrition or the connection between diet and academic results. Furthermore, not much research focusing on teachers has been carried out in this field which therefore had to be generated and included to understand their role in the implementation of EAT and madskoler.

Conclusion and implications

The study shows that food and eating in schools has a potential as a social and/or educational framework to practice general bildung. But it is often restricted by a lack of common pedagogical goals, lack of time and space for carrying out what teachers see as food bildung and an attitude among teachers towards food and eating as something that takes time from real education. Still, teachers’ attitude and practices are very different from one school to another when it comes to eating with the students. Some teachers use the meal as an arena for teaching life skills and social education. Some perceive food and eating as caring and a social project while other teachers perceive it as a service project for the parents and do not get involved pedagogically or as educators. Overall, the study shows that there is a gap between the ideals and notion of ”maddannelse” (food bildung) which Københavns Madhus and the municipality originally wanted to implement as part of the school lunch programs EAT and madskoler and the everyday understandings, barriers and forms of sociality around food that teachers experience and engage with when they attempt to implement the programs in practice in different schools. 

The results of this study indicate that in order to be working more in line with the original goals set out by Københavns Madhus and Copenhagen Municipality, the teachers need clear common pedagogic and didactic goals for eating with the students and when it comes to perceiving the meal as an arena for social education. The results also indicate that a broader inclusion of teachers might help towards integrating the programs at each school, in terms of adapting to the local characteristic of each school with very different demographic and pedagogical traditions. Furthermore, the actors who develop concepts like school lunch programs and researchers within the field of food and education need to look more deeply into the everyday challenges and social aspects of meals and food. Also food as identity formation and the practical work life of the teachers in order to create projects that are considered an asset more than a burden to teachers and to fully understand how terms like food bildung (maddannelse) among others are perceived and made relevant in practice.

Key words

School lunch and teachers, sociability, action competence, food bildung and pedagogics, school lunch as a social arena.



23 juni 2020

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