• care ethics;
  • pastoral power;
  • caring teaching;
  • Foucault;
  • ethics


Whilst care imperatives have arisen across the breadth of Western societies, within the education sector they appear both prolific and urgent. This paper explores the deployment of care discourses within education generally and draws upon the case of Australian Health and Physical Education (HPE) more specifically, to undertake a Foucauldian interrogation of care. In so doing I demonstrate the usefulness of Foucault's pastoral power lens and its capacity to provide insight into the moral and ethical work conducted by caring teachers on behalf of the state (Acker, 1995). Following a brief overview of the advocacy, challenges and debates surrounding the issue of caring teaching within education, I draw on the work of Hunter (1994) and three case studies from a genealogical interrogation of HPE that employed Foucualt's ethical fourfold as a heuristic device to reveal the ethical practices and objectives of the good HPE teacher. Drawing on this genealogical work, I argue that HPE teachers and their colleagues have been purposefully incited to constitute themselves as agents of pastoral power. From this Foucauldian perspective, I conclude with an exploration of the unintended and possibly ‘dangerous’ practices of caring teaching that may emerge within the complex and messy nexus of contemporary self-constitution.