Literature concerning boys’ apparent underachievement in literacy, compared to girls, is prolific in popular, political and educational narratives. Many generalizations about boys’ underachievement however, are not representative of particular groups of boys and focus on narrow constructions of masculinity that perpetuate a binary divide between boys and girls, positioning young males as homogenous. This paper presents outcomes from a recent doctoral study indicating that boys’ experiences as readers at school are diverse, highlighting the need to make visible the differences between groups of boys. Outcomes also suggest that disadvantage plays an interactional role in boy’s perceptions of reading indicating a social justice concern. Findings from this study build upon the work of others who advocate the need to determine ‘which boys’ are underachieving at school while concomitantly allowing a space to make visible differences amongst groups of boys. From an understanding of literacy as socio-cultural practice this paper will provide an overview of the quantitative and qualitative methodological approach implemented to explore differences between students’ attitudes and beliefs about reading and other school related endeavours. The study involved a survey of 297 boys and girls and follow up interview with 34 students. Students were clustered into six groups of participants who presented in a similar manner. Within the context of this paper two of these groups will be discussed. The first group is a male dominated cluster of students who indicated anti-reading and anti-school sentiments. The second male dominated group however, included participants who expressed their ‘love’ of reading within an unsupportive peer group culture, challenging taken for granted assumptions about boys and reading often portrayed in popular literature.
|Keywords:||Boys, Diversity, Masculinity, Reading, Sociocultural Influences, Educational Outcomes|
PhD Candidate, School of Education, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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