Boys Don't Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Boys Don't Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools

1st Edition

By Matt Pinkett, Mark Roberts


204 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780815350255
pub: 2019-04-25
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9780815350170
pub: 2019-04-25
Available for pre-order

FREE Standard Shipping!


There is a significant problem in our schools: too many boys are struggling. The list of things to concern teachers is long. Disappointing academic results, a lack of interest in studying, higher exclusion rates, increasing mental health issues, sexist attitudes, an inability to express emotions… Traditional ideas about masculinity are having a negative impact, not only on males, but females too. In this ground-breaking book, Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts argue that schools must rethink their efforts to get boys back on track.

Boys Don’t Try? examines the research around key topics such as anxiety and achievement, behaviour and bullying, schoolwork and self-esteem. It encourages the reader to reflect on how they define masculinityand consider what we want for boys in our schools. Offering practical quick wins, as well as long-term strategies to help boys become happier and achieve greater academic success, the book:

  • offers ways to avoid problematic behaviour by boys and tips to help teachers address poor behaviour when it happens
  • highlights key areas of pastoral care that need to be recognised by schools
  • exposes how popular approaches to ‘engaging’ boys are actually misguided and damaging
  • details how issues like disadvantage, relationships, violence, peer pressure and pornography affect boys’ perceptions of masculinity and how teachers can challenge these.

With an easy-to-navigate three-part structure for each chapter, setting out the stories, key research, and practical solutions, this is essential reading for all classroom teachers and school leaders who are keen to ensure male students enjoy the same success as girls.


"What do we want for our boys?" Matt and Mark explode myths, challenge some of our preconceptions and suggest alternative routes to success in our raising and educating of boys. And they don't dodge the most sensitive issues.

This is a thoughtful, balanced, thoroughly-researched, eminently sensible and practical consideration of how we can support boys to be their best in the classroom and beyond it. It recognises and addresses the pressures boys are under as they make their journey towards manhood. Mark and Matt skilfully demonstrate that if we help boys in schools we will improve education for girls, too.

Each chapter is structured according to the story, the research, the solutions: this is positive and forward-looking, asking not only "what’s not wanted?" but "what’s wanted instead?" and so focusses on the future rather than only the past and present.

The authors explain honestly, courageously and with humility how and why they have rethought their own perceptions of "the boy problem" to come to a more nuanced and carefully considered understanding of why boys behave in certain stereotypical ways and how they can be encouraged, motivated and inspired to be their best selves. I learnt a huge amount from this book, and I suggest you will, too.

Jill Berry

Former head, now leadership consultant

This is a fabulous book. It's going to be a must-read for any teacher, leader or parents who have ever had concerns or questions about boys' attitudes to school, to learning, to sex, to each other. Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools is impressively ambitious in its scope, tackling a range of key issues with a brilliant blend of the personal and the analytical with a clear, helpful repeating structure: the story, the research, the solutions. Matt and Mark speak from experience, acknowledging their biases and changes of heart; both have voices of conviction and an absolutely authentic desire to find real answers to difficult problems. The final 'other voices' chapter illustrates this perfectly.

I loved reading this book and I know thousands of others will too.

Tom Sherrington

Author and education consultant

Having just read Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools by Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts, I have found myself with a sore neck. Why? Because I found myself nodding in agreement page after page. Like many teachers, at various stages in my career, I have been given really bad advice such as ‘introduce competition into your lessons to engage the boys’ or ‘don’t worry if the boys’ work is a bit untidy, that’s just the way it is with boys’. Matt and Mark address myths like this and use the research evidence, alongside their own experience in schools, to break down many of these widely held beliefs, which serve to do nothing else but compound the problem of gender inequality in schools. Furthermore, they challenge us as educators to reflect on our own gender biases which, whilst uncomfortable at times, is the first step to addressing this problem.

The world of education has needed a book like this for a long time. Evidence informed, written by practitioners and not pulling any punches. It gets to the heart of a really serious issue that permeates our education system and should be read by anybody who works in a school.

Shaun Allison

Author, deputy head, and Director of Durrington Research School

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Engagement Myth

Chapter 2: Disadvantaged Students

Chapter 3: Peer Pressure

Chapter 4: Mental Health

Chapter 5: Expectations

Chapter 6: Sex and Sexism

Chapter 7: In the Classroom

Chapter 8: Violence

Chapter 9: Relationships

Chapter 10: Other Voices

About the Authors

Matt Pinkett is a Head of English in Surrey with a personal and professional interest in gender in schools. Matt has written for a number of publications on this topic - and others - and also writes a blog in which he discusses teaching and masculinity.

Mark Roberts is Assistant Principal at a mixed 11-18 comprehensive school in Devon. Previously, he worked at an inner-city comprehensive for boys in Manchester. Mark writes a blog about teaching English and is also a frequent contributor to TES on subjects including pedagogy, behaviour, leadership and educational research.

Foreword by Mary Myatt.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings: