Boys' Selves: Identity and Anxiety in the Looking Glass of School Life
by Michael C. Reichert & Peter Kuriloff — 2004
In the last decade, boys' lives, and particularly their school achievement, have come under increasing scrutiny. While dominant discourses have stressed boys as victims, schools as failing boys, and an essentialist view that boys will be boys, few take account that boys develop their self-concepts in the looking glass of the variously gendered academic and social curricula of schools. Yet understanding how boys form their sense of self is crucial, as much research has shown that students' self-concepts have a strong relationship with their grades. This exploratory study attempts to address this need, finding that the addition of a measure of boys' social anxiety significantly enhanced the statistical explanation of self-concept. Follow-up interviews with 27 boys helped us to understand the nature of their social anxiety and its relationship to the power dynamics and traditions of the particular school we studied. We conclude by suggesting ways such schools may be able to help boys reduce their anxiety and enhance their senses of self.
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