Boys, Literature and Masculinity: Challenging the Stereotypes — Bev Harrison, Lindisfarne College, New Zealand

Current research suggests that one of the limiting factors in boys’ engagement with literature is their narrow perception of masculinity and what is considered acceptable in a masculine environment. One way of broadening and extending their understanding of masculinity may be through the critical analysis of literature. To test this hypothesis, qualitative data from surveys, interviews and the boys’ own writing were used to examine changes that might have taken place in their attitudes to masculinity after a literature study. The data collected indicated that the attitudes to masculinity within the two groups examined were fairly stereotypical and dominated by a sporting ethos. Although the surveys indicated that there were few overt changes in boys’ attitudes after the literature study, the data from the interviews and personal writing showed that boys became aware of ‘cracks’ in the stereotypes when they examined masculinity in a critical way. Existing stereotypical attitudes to masculinity can be challenged if boys are introduced to a critical examination of these concepts through the medium of literature studies. 

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Educator quote about IBSC Action Research

"The fact that we were all investigating the same question gave us a lot of common ground even though we were approaching it from different angles."