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ERIC Number: EJ864317
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0160-7561
(Re)Considering the Neutrality of Care: The Case of Body Mass Indexing in Schools
Schee, Carolyn Vander
Philosophical Studies in Education, v40 p138-152 2009
The "problem" of overweight and obesity among children and youth has received a tremendous amount of attention by government agencies, public health officials and within popular presses. The issue has been dubbed everything from a national epidemic to a global health crisis. Social policy solutions to the problem of overweight and obesity among children very often implicate schools for being a logical, convenient and natural site of intervention. Schools across the country have been encouraged to "explore creative" strategies to prevent, identify and reduce obesity among children. Somewhat unsurprisingly, for many schools creativity comes in the form greater assessment, measurement and standardization or, more specifically, performing annual Body Mass Index (BMI) tests on students. BMI testing involves measuring and recording a child's weight, height and age and plotting these on a gender specific graph that delineates percentile cutoff points. In this article, the author considers whether educational policies, such as BMI testing, represent an authentic form of caring that is consistent with social democratic ideals. Theoretically, the author draws on the works of Michel Foucault, as well as others, who have extended his insights to apply more specifically to school health issues. Using this framework, the author forwards the argument that BMI testing is highly problematic and signals ways in which "new hierarchies of the body are being nurtured in... schools relating to size, shape and weight." Additionally, the author reveals the ways in which BMI testing contributes to the increasingly performative nature of school culture and curriculum whereby students' bodies have become yet "another form of valued currency in schools." The central aim of this paper is to explore BMI testing as it manifests in schools and increasingly comes to bear on students' lives and experiences within schools. Ultimately, the author argues that BMI testing, premised on the goal of fixing students' bodies through greater surveillance, regulation and control, fundamentally lacks a commitment to authentically and holistically caring for students. To guide the author's analysis, the author examines the California Physical Fitness Test Program (CPFT). (Contains 54 notes.)
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California