Teaching the Boys: New Research on Masculinity, and Gender Strategies for Schools
by R. W. Connell — 1996
This article draws on new social-scientific research on masculinity to develop a framework for understanding gender issues in the education of boys. Gender is constructed within institutional and cultural contexts that produce multiple forms of masculinity. Normally one form is hegemonic over others. Schools are active players in the formation of masculinities. Schools overall gender regimes typically reinforce gender dichotomy, though some practices reduce gender difference. Masculinizing practices are concentrated at certain sites: curriculum divisions, discipline systems, and sports. Pupils are also active in constructing masculinities. Pupil cultures commonly emphasize heterosexual relationships and construct gender hierarchies. Boys take up the offer of gender privilege in diverse ways, ranging from protest masculinity to anti-sexism. The goals of educational work with boys include pursuing knowledge, improving relationships, and pursuing justice. Programs may be either gender-specific or gender-relevant. Experiential methods have been most common, but are vulnerable to disruption; other methods are being explored. The main groups who shape the process of change (pupils, their parents, their teachers, and social movements) have divided interests. Yet their interaction, plus pressure from the wider world, is likely to produce growing educational attention to issues about boys and masculinity.
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