Boys who dare don’t care: unwanted men, the performing arts and perplexing disruptions to the male teacher discourse

M. Ashley

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The question of boys’ achievement and behaviour has occupied a dominant position in the discourses of schooling and teacher education for the last two decades. A commonly expressed view is that schools have become “feminised” and that more male teachers are needed as “role models” in order to solve a supposed “problem with boys”. Previous work by the author concluded that primary school boys were commonly content with their female teachers and did not generally share the anxiety of government or the Training and Development Agency for schools (TDA) to recruit more male teachers. The present paper thus seeks to explore further the question of whether there are any differences in boys’ perceptions of male teachers as role models for boys’ participation in “feminised” areas of the curriculum. It draws on data from three funded projects by the author in which boys’ participation in the arts has been closely observed. There is little evidence that boys’ participation in the performing arts is enhanced by the presence of male teachers acting as role models. Indeed, it emerges as even more robustly the case that boys do not seem to require male teachers in the urgent way suggested by TDA recruitment rhetoric. Whilst there might be agreement that it is desirable to include male teachers to model the adult workforce, even if they do not improve boys’ performance, the evidence of this study presents the disturbing possibility that male teachers may actually in certain circumstances have a counterproductive or negative effect on boys’ participation
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference - University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sept 20095 Sept 2009


ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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