Boys to Men: Student Responses to Interpretations of Masculinity and Manhood in Literature — Edward M. Trusty, Jr., The Gilman School, United States

Fourth grade boys have clear and similar views on the meaning and their interpretations of manhood and masculinity as it is presented in literature. The fifteen participants in this research study read and discussed characters and themes prevalent in eight novels. A few of these novels were Newbery Award winning selections. Participants in this study completed a pre-survey and post-survey, assessing their opinions and interpretations of masculinity and manhood as presented in this literature.

Throughout the research, students almost unanimously identified the same five qualities as those best exemplifying masculinity and manhood—bravery, intellect, responsibility, perseverance/determination, and kindness. Some may argue that kindness is the least stereotypical attribute on this list derived from these 9- and 10-year-old boys. Contrary to popular images in the media, strength, bravado, athleticism, and wealth were not remarkable descriptors. This could be due, in part, to their lack of relevance to the literature addressed in this research effort. These findings may support that 9- and 10-year-old boys’ interpretations of masculinity and manhood are overwhelmingly similar but far from stereotypical. Further analysis would offer greater credence to the diversity in young male perspectives on masculinity and manhood.

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Educator quote about IBSC Action Research

"The [action research] process and the reflection were both important and significant professional development opportunities that every educator should experience."