Wells, Jennifer (2016) Primary school boys, academic achievement in literacy and hegemonic identities: a qualitative study. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

The perceptions held of the fundamental differences in the nature of boys and girls is an issue which has dominated educational discourse over recent years and thus, has shaped pedagogical approaches and policy. However, despite some calls to focus on how the social construction of masculinity affects boys’ responses to school based literacy there is still a pervasive discourse which focuses on neurological and hormonal differences. Furthermore, the waters seem muddied by a narrative of the disempowerment of boys as a consequence of the success of the feminist movement, the answer to which has often been a call to return to more traditional roles and social practices. The extent to which this popular discourse impacts on policy decisions made by educational leaders cannot be underestimated and is reflected in the many proposals for improving boys’ literacy results which are still often grounded in generalisations and stereotypes which place boys in one homogenous group who experience their identity in a single way. The current climate appears, therefore, to be one of mixed messages so that whilst scholars have pointed out the potential damage caused by solutions which reinforce socially constructed gender binaries, such approaches are still thriving.
This study employs qualitative methods to explore, through interviews, the ways in which boys talk about how they construct their masculinity within the school environment and draws conclusions as to how this gendered identity impacts upon their perception of practices which shape the literate individual such as reading, creative writing and personal expressive response to texts. The findings contradict some commonly held beliefs that hegemonic constructions of masculinity often reject the academic practices associated with literacy. In particular, the data challenges the idea that many boys are reluctant to be seen as succeeding academically in favour of an anti-school culture. The results offer instead, a nuanced picture of how boys perceive the study of literacy and how some boys actively resist forms of masculinity which might prevent them from achieving at school and are able to balance the need to succeed in literacy with their status as ‘hegemonic’ boys socially.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 11:46
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2016 11:46
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/2482

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