chapter  9
10 Pages

Health and physical education and the production of the ‘at risk self’


Notions of risk have become increasingly central to contemporary constructions of curriculum and pedagogy in school-based health and physical education (HPE). While there is a long history of attention to ‘risk’ in the field of HPE, there is a marked difference in how risk is currently formulated and deployed. This chapter explores how these new ‘risk discourses’ operate in the HPE classroom. Theorists such as Beck and Giddens point to the globalisation of risk, arguing that risk is a central characteristic of late-modern neo-liberal countries (Lupton 1999a). Our chapter, however, specifically draws on governmental theorists to explore the broad cultural and social ‘turn to risk’, and the significance this has for the ways in which health and physical education curriculum and pedagogy attempts to shape and produce particular kinds of people. We explore some of the effects of ‘risk discourse’ for curriculum, teachers, classroom practices, and for the young people who are the target of the risk curriculum. The discussion draws from data collected as part of a larger study that sought to explore the dominant and contesting discourses that operate within school-based health education.