In this talk, Professor Michael Kehler opens up the conversation and debate circling around boys, literacy and underachievement. He raises questions about the crisis discourse currently operating to mobilize schools, state departments or provincial ministries of education and local school boards to “help the boys.”
Drawing from a feminist framework, Kehler examines multiple subjectivities of adolescent boys; he uses these subjectivities as a starting point to further critique which boys we might help, and how we might help boys during a time of heightened concerns for underachieving levels among boys. He extends the conversation to problematize tensions intersecting boy culture and current literacy practices that are often promoted and perpetuated for teachers to improve boys’ achievement levels in Canada and beyond. As a masculinities scholar, Kehler is also concerned with literacy practices that actually maintain heteronormative masculinity and, moreover, contribute to homophobia in schools that claim to embrace diversity among youth.
Michael Kehler is an associate professor of education at the University of Western Ontario. He is co-editor with M. Atkinson (2010) of the book “Boys’ Bodies: Speaking the Unspoken” (Peter Lang). His recent work includes chapters focusing on “Who Will ‘Save the boys?’ (Re)examining a Panic for Underachieving Boys” and “Examining the (Em)Bodied Boundaries of High School Locker Rooms.”