This book presents an ethnographic study of the experiences of teenage boys in an Australian high school. It follows a group of thirteen to fifteen year olds over a period of more than two years, and seeks to understand why so many boys say they hate school yet enjoy being with one another in their daily confrontations with the formal school. The study acknowledges the ongoing significance of the "boys' debate" to policy-makers and the media, and therefore to teachers and parents, but moves it on from issues of gender construction and the panic about achievement to the broader question of what it is to experience being schooled as a boy in the new liberal educational environment.
John Whelen is a tutor and research assistant in the faculty of education at Monash University, Australia.
'Having taught in a secondary school in Melbourne, Australia for 20-plus years, Whelen decided to pursue a PhD (Monash U.) and for his dissertation chose to do an ethnographic study of boys in school over a two-year period. The topic is alive with debate concerning such issues as whether schools have become "feminized" in recent years. Along with his theoretical framework, observations, and conclusions about the students, the author intertwines the experience of being an ethnographer in an environment where he had been an "insider" for many years.'-Reference and Research Book News
'In short, the text encompasses valuable ideas and perspectives for anyone seeking to understand a different way of reading a well-established discourse.' - Garth Stahl, Gender and Education
"The author's detailed description of elements of poststructuralist ethnography as he understands and enacts them make this an excellent resource for advanced graduate students looking for examples of research in postmodern methods as well as an example of one researcher's experience grappling with the dilemmas posed by those methods." - Stephanie McCall, Teacher's College Record
'In the current moment, as Whelen indicates, there is a sense that perhaps the boys’ debate has run its course. The policy drive in relation to boys’ educa- tion that was present in the ﬁrst few years of this century appears to have abated, at least in Australia. However, there are clearly some residues of this debate in various newspaper headlines, especially at times of national examinations (Donnelly 2012b). Regardless, as the international media coverage around Julia Gillard’s speech in the Australian parliament indicates, understanding the ways in which gender affects public discourse is always of critical importance. At the heart of developing such an understanding will be a consideration of the ways in which women and girls experience sexism and misogyny in their everyday lives. This in turn will necessitate working towards developing an understanding of the ways in which boys’ subjectivities are variously constructed. Boys and their Schooling: The Experience of Becoming Someone Else makes a major contribution here.' - Martin Mills, British Journal of Sociology of Education