Gender and the teaching of English

Authored by: Gemma Moss

The Routledge International Handbook of English, Language and Literacy Teaching

Print publication date:  February  2010
Online publication date:  February  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415469036
eBook ISBN: 9780203863091
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183141


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Two themes characterize work on gender and English teaching: how the content of the English curriculum contributes to the formation of gendered identities; and how gender differences in attainment in reading and writing can be explained and addressed. Sometimes these two different discourses intertwine. Look back over the last twenty years and it is also possible to see a swing away from placing girls centre stage in the enquiry to what might almost be described as a preoccupation with boys. In the current managerial and performance-driven climate, boys’ underachievement in reading and writing stands out as a problem to be fixed. The struggle from a feminist perspective has been to know how to respond to this state of affairs without losing ground. In part this has meant grappling with the issue of ‘failing boys’ while trying to protect the interests of girls. This dual aim has not always been easy. This chapter will review how these literatures have developed over time, consider the extent to which policy-driven education reform has reshaped thinking about the relationship between gender and literacy, and suggest where the debate should go next.

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