Paradoxes of Learning to Be Well: Re-examining the Curriculization of Wellbeing - Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF)

Project: Research

Project Details


This project aims to generate new knowledge and ways of thinking about development pathways, intricacies and consequences of the formalization of wellbeing as a mandatory educational goal in public primary and lower secondary education in Denmark. Educational research typically construes wellbeing as a condition for academic achievement and strong performance in national and international comparisons. By contrast, this study is based on the hypothesis that the policy specification of wellbeing as a mandatory objective ‘curriculizes’ wellbeing; in other words, the formalization transforms wellbeing into an object of educational practices and wellbeing becomes something students need to learn, in line with other curriculum subjects. Rather than resting on the taken-for-granted assumption that such an emphasis increases the quality of education and student outcomes, we treat this as an open question and ask: How is wellbeing framed in educational policies, guidelines and measurement frameworks, and how do these framings affect the dynamics of everyday school life and students’ experiences of schooling?

Layman's description

Schools are regarded as the setting with the greatest effect on young people’s wellbeing. However, much research reduces schools to sites used to promote or quantify wellbeing, while the theoretical groundwork is lagging behind. The conceptualizations of wellbeing are often reductive and disconnected from the distinctive task of schools – education and formation of the self. This project offers new ways of thinking that are attentive to the complexity of the processes through which wellbeing is formalized, configured and enacted in schools. Through qualitative empirical design and analytical problematizations deploying theoretical concepts drawn from postructuralism and postcritical educational theory, the project delivers a distinctive insight into paradoxes that emerge when wellbeing is examined as embedded in the context where it is put to work rather than simply deployed as a self-evident, desirable or neutral intervention.
Short titleWellbeing in Schools
Effective start/end date01/09/202330/01/2026


  • Wellbeing
  • Schools
  • Policy Enactments
  • Subjectification
  • Intersectionality
  • Students


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