Does for boys mean not for girls? Dangerous liaisons with single sex education and student/teacher gender identity

M. Ashley

Research output: Contribution to conferenceKeynotepeer-review


Recuperative masculinity politics in education are predicated upon the assumption that boys have fallen behind girls in most if not all subjects. In spite of ongoing and rigorous critique,the alleged “problem with boys” continues to command attention. Positive discrimination to help boys “catch up” is advocated by some as justifiable policy. The solutions put forward commonly include an increase in the number of male teachers on the grounds that boys identify with a same sex role model, “boy friendly” curriculum content, single sex schooling or the setting of certain subjects by sex within a co-educational school. The last of these has proved particularly attractive in those subjects seen as possessing inherent gender bias. English, for example, can be seen as relatively “feminine”, though against this it is an important core subject which boys must master whether they like it or not. Music, on the other hand is relatively “peripheral” with regard to what must be mastered by all students and subject to strong gender biases such as the perception that singing is for girls whilst boys play rock instruments. To encourage boys’ willing engagement requires a particular effort to be directed against their perceptions of what is appropriate for their gender. Martin Ashley has been researching boys’ participation in singing for a number of years and has encountered every conceivable strategy in use, including those mentioned above. In this presentation he will share what he has learned about “boy friendly” content, student/teacher gender identity and single sex education through this research, exploring what lessons may be learned for other curriculum areas.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventLondon International Conference on Education - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Nov 200912 Nov 2009


ConferenceLondon International Conference on Education
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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