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Why Teach (young) People how to Cook? A critical analysis of education and policy in transition

Tull, A. (2015). Why Teach (young) People how to Cook? A critical analysis of education and policy in transition. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The thesis explores the purpose of cooking education. The impetus for the research question - why teach (young) people to cook? – was the introduction of the 1988 National Curriculum for England & Wales. This changed the content and pedagogy of cooking education from a home and practical focus to an industrial and technological focus. Literature searches found little academic research into the purpose of cooking education. The research therefore set out to map the entire policy and pedagogical rationale(s) for what it defines as Food and Cooking Skills Education (FCSE). The research applied a dual focus on FCSE: as food policy and as pedagogy. A multi-method methodology was adopted, using a food systems conceptual approach, in order to capture the depth, range and breadth of possible rationales for FCSE. Methods used were: historical and documentary analysis, semi-structured interviews, questionnaire survey and an international comparative survey. Five qualitative studies were conducted: (1) a historical account of FCSE in England and Wales since the industrial revolution; (2) a survey of young people’s experience of cooking education in English schools; (3) a questionnaire survey of UK food industry FCSE perspectives; (4) an international comparative survey of thirty-five countries’ FCSE policies and pedagogy (including Scotland & N Ireland); and (5) élite interviews of policy-makers and activists from state related and civil society sectors. The five studies provide the first account of FCSE’s role and purpose, whether taught formally or informally. Seventeen rationales were identified, of varying emphasis. Historically, FCSE was found to have generated different purposes at different periods, with the modern era encompassing them all, and environmental sustainability now emerging. Internationally, countries vary in their modes of food cultural and skills transmission. A consensus of the importance of FCSE was recorded. The thesis concludes with nine cross-cutting themes exposed by the studies, which are presented as a preliminary theory of the purposes for and against cooking education. These include: food control, food literacy, skill types, culinary diversity, public health, resources, pleasure and environmental sustainability. Recommendations for policy and further research are made.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher Keywords: Cooking education; Cooking pedagogy; Cooking education purpose; Food and cooking skills; Food literacy; Food policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
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