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Sponsoring Ways of Being

Adolescent Boys’ Religious Literacy Practices

Deborah Vriend Van Duinen

In response to the persistent gender gap in literacy achievement levels in international, national, and state assessments ( Brozo et al. 2014 ; Chudowsky and Chudowsky 2010 ), some literacy researchers have turned to researching boys’ out

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Niobe Way

Our longitudinal studies of boys over the past two decades have revealed that boys have and/or want intimate male friendships and that these relationships are critical for their mental health. Yet as they reach late adolescence, boys become wary of their male best friends even as they continue to want emotional intimacy with these peers. As the pressures of stereotypic manhood intensify, boys disconnect from the very relationships that support their mental health. The numerous challenges faced by boys in school and at home are in part a reflection of this disconnection.

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Miles Groth

Shakespeare was keenly affected by the lives of the boys who played the parts of women in his plays. Evidence for his understanding and compassion is found in the speeches of those characters who cross-dress female to male. By a double negation of his gender, the boy actor is given an opportunity to speak for himself as well for the female character he is portraying. The examples are Julia as Sebastian in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Portia as Balthazar and Nerissa as both the young lawyer’s clerk and Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, Viola as Cesario in Twelfth Night, Imogen as Fidele in Cymbeline, and especially Rosalind as Ganymede in As You Like It. I argue that what they were given to say by Shakespeare reveals the experience of being a boy, not only in early modern England or ancient Greece (where all parts were also played by males), but also in our time. I suggest the treatment of boys in the theatre is mirrored by the treatment of boys today. In those instances where doubled impersonation was written into Shakespeare’s plays, we have a unique opportunity to hear boys tell us about themselves. As with so much else that is timeless insight, the bard understood and articulated the experience of being a boy. Taken together, the utterances of his “boys” tell us how it is to be a boy.

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Stiles X. Simmons and Karen M. Feathers

have led to narrowed curricula and concomitant instructional practices and priorities, which are not inclusive of the texts and practices preferred by boys in general ( Blair and Sanford 2004 ; Haddix 2010 ; Morrell 2009 ; Smith and Wilhelm 2002

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Books Are Boring! Books Are Fun!

Boys’ Polarized Perspectives on Reading

Laura Scholes

Boys’ underachievement in reading, compared to girls, is considered a significant international problem ( Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] 2014 ). By 15 years of age girls outperform boys on reading in the Program for

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Cormac Ó Beaglaoich, Mark Kiss, Clíodhna Ní Bheaglaoich, and Todd G. Morrison

experience of heterosexual boys (e.g., “Hugging other men is difficult for me”). In response to this question, participants felt it was important to specify the context in which the hug occurs: “If you’re hugging after you score a goal or you’re hugging

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Michael C. Reichert and Richard Hawley

In a large-scale survey of effective teaching practices with boys conducted in 2008 across 18 schools in 6 different English-speaking countries, we collected lessons in a wide variety of subject areas (math, literature, science, art) shaped to fit boys’ particular learning needs and preferences. At a time of widely-published claims about boys’ relative failure to thrive in contemporary school settings, we surveyed schools dedicated to boys in particular—boys’ schools—in hopes of discovering the outlines of a pedagogy that might have broader relevance for boys everywhere. Nearly 1,000 teachers responded with detailed descriptions of teaching approaches that succeeded in engaging boys. Boys themselves—1,500 of them, aged 12-19—corroborated the features of effective instruction reported by their teachers. We suggest that the practices identified were “chafed” into being by sustained interactions between teachers and their male students. In this mutually-attuned, coordinated interaction between boy learner and adult instructor, we found qualities of responsiveness and connection echoing regulatory communication commonly associated with earlier periods in child development. Given current concerns about widespread gaps in many boys’ school performance, these stories affirming educational relationships could point the way to a clearer understanding of how best to engage boys in scholastic endeavor.

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The Concept of Sentimental Boyhood

The Emotional Education of Boys in Mexico during the Early Porfiriato, 1876–1884

Carlos Zúñiga Nieto

emphasis on policy and institutions related to children in Mexico City. Scholarship has elaborated the way educators in Mexico City shaped and enacted educational curricula, such that we know more about what educators thought of the category of “boys” in

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All the Boys Are Straight

Heteronormativity in Contemporary Books on Fathering and Raising Boys

Damien W. Riggs

Over the past decade a rapidly growing number of books have been published on fathering and raising boys. Whilst these books purport to simply describe boyhood, this article suggests that they are in fact actively engaged in constructing boyhood and in making available to boys particular gender and sexual identities. In an analysis of ten such books, the article demonstrates how they are informed by a range of heteronormative and homophobic assumptions about boys and masculinity. Particular focus is given to constructions of the “average boy,” the assumption that such boys are “naturally” attracted to girls, discourses of the “sissy” boy, and accounts of gay boys. The analysis provided suggests that constructions of the first two rely upon the negative constructions of the latter two. Implications for the ways in which we understand boys, fathering and families are drawn from the findings. Recommendations are made for research agendas that not only respect and include gay boys and their parents, but also celebrate the experiences of non-gender normative, non-heterosexual boys.

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Reproduction, Resistance and Hope

The Promise of Schooling for Boys

Michael C. Reichert and Joseph Nelson

Extended editorial introduction to a double special issue on boys and schooling. Adopting a developmental perspective on boyhood, the editors frame these special issues on boys' education by reviewing research on their experience of schooling. In particular, they endeavor to illuminate boys' agency and opportunities they can find in schools for resistance to restrictive masculine regimes.