Teachers' interaction with children in the school meal situation: the example of pedagogic meals in Sweden

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013 Sep-Oct;45(5):420-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2013.02.008. Epub 2013 Jun 12.


Objective: School meals are also a teaching occasion in which children learn about food and meals, which is referred to as "pedagogic meals" in Sweden. The aim of the present article was to study how the pedagogic meal is practiced in preschool and school settings, with focus on how teachers acted when interacting with the children.

Design: Observations, interviews, and focus group interviews.

Setting: School canteens.

Participants: Three schools.

Phenomenon of interest: Teaching in the school meal situation.

Analysis: Social constructionism, new social studies of childhood.

Results: The teachers took on 3 different roles. The sociable teacher role entailed turning the school lunch into a social occasion, the educating teacher role involved educating the children, and the evasive teacher role was not associated with the definition of a pedagogic meal. The teacher roles, which ranged from adult-oriented to child-oriented, and which varied in the level of interaction with the children, were summarized in a framework named the Adult- to Child-oriented Teacher Role Framework for School Meals (ACTS).

Conclusions and implications: To realize the potential of pedagogic meals, teachers must be educated and become aware of the effects of their behaviors. In this situation, the ACTS framework can constitute a useful tool.

Keywords: food services; health education; school lunch; schools; teaching.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Faculty*
  • Female
  • Food Services
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Lunch / psychology*
  • Male
  • Role
  • Schools
  • Students / psychology*
  • Sweden