This paper examines the ways in which neoliberal responses to social health issues shape the educational discourses and practices of schools. As schools are increasingly identified as ideal spaces for health promotion, the question of how and why educators and public health practitioners can and should work together continues to be debated. Using Bourdieu’s theory of reproduction, we use this indicative example of emergency food to examine how ‘charity alone’ models reproduce and perpetuate inequitable health outcomes in neoliberal societies. This individualistic view of health continues to work against public health and social justice education initiatives increasingly found in schools, curricula and wider society; creating a dissonance between rhetoric and reality. Revolutionary critical pedagogies are explored to examine the implications of these practices in schools, and how the framework of service learning may offer an approach for involving primary students in empathy, caring and social justice. We seek to extend the existing literature by exploring ways of shifting, rather than reproducing, the current practices of educators and public health practitioners in how children experience health inequality and the social determinants of health.
- service learning
- social determinants of health
- social justice