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Rethinking Masculinity in Schools: Why Boys Don’t Try

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There is a significant problem in our schools: too many boys are struggling.

That’s the message from Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts, authors of a ground-breaking new book that argues schools must rethink their efforts to get boys back on track.

The list of things to concern teachers is long:

  • Disappointing academic results
  • A lack of interest in studying
  • Higher exclusion rates
  • Increasing mental health issues
  • Sexist attitudes
  • An inability to express emotions….

Traditional ideas about masculinity are having a negative impact, not only on males, but females too. 

Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools examines the research around key topics such as:

  • Anxiety and achievement,
  • Behaviour and bullying,
  • Schoolwork and self-esteem.

It encourages the reader to reflect on how they define masculinity and consider what we want for boys in our schools.

Offering practical quick wins, as well as long-term strategies to help boys become happier and achieve greater academic success, the book:

  • Offers ways to avoid problematic behaviour by boys and tips to help teachers address poor behaviour when it happens
  • Highlights key areas of pastoral care that need to be recognised by schools
  • Exposes how popular approaches to “engaging” boys are actually misguided and damaging
  • Details how issues like disadvantage, relationships, violence, peer pressure, and pornography affect boys’ perceptions of masculinity and how teachers can challenge these.

With an easy-to-navigate three-part structure for each chapter, setting out the stories, key research, and practical solutions, this is essential reading for all classroom teachers and school leaders who are keen to ensure male students enjoy the same success as girls.

Matt Pinkett is a Head of English in Surrey with a personal and professional interest in gender in schools.

Matt has written for a number of publications on this topic – and others – and also writes a blog in which he discusses teaching and masculinity.

Mark Roberts is Assistant Principal at a mixed 11–18 comprehensive school in Devon.

Previously, he worked at an inner-city comprehensive for boys in Manchester.

Mark writes a blog about teaching English and is also a frequent contributor to TES on subjects including pedagogy, behaviour, leadership, and educational research.

Stephen Lambert, Director of Education4Democracy and Newcastle City Councillor, said:

“The fact remains that white working-class young men are the worst performers of all genders and ethnicities in the North East of England.

“Thousands of the ‘lost boys’ from the region have left school unofficially from 14+ on. The vast majority don’t show up in further education or apprenticeships at 16+. It’s virtually impossible to track them down with the abandonment of the careers service. Two out 10 young men aged 19 to 24-years are NEETS according to Policy North, the independent think tank.

“Unless government, educational leaders and business act, we’re in danger of creating a disengaged male white ‘under-class’ in our post-industrial society.”

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