Tracing The Patterns : Boys And Their Literacy In The Early Years

Hodgeon, Julia (2003). Tracing The Patterns : Boys And Their Literacy In The Early Years. EdD thesis The Open University.



The purpose of this ethnographic study is to uncover relationships between the development of masculinities, the acquisition of early literacy and classroom processes. These processes include the early stages of the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy. The focus of the study is to examine literacy experiences in the early years classroom with reference to current anxieties about the progress and achievements of boys. The setting is a medium-sized primary school in the North of England. Data are drawn from participant and non-participant observation of adults and children, informal interviews and conversations with adults and the use of a questionnaire as the basis for informal interviews with children. Evidence is presented which suggests that boys in the class are already beginning to develop negative attitudes to literacy; possible factors to account for this are considered. These include administrative organisation, differential teacher expectations of boys and girls, the development of masculine subjectivities into resistance and boys' avoidance of literacy experiences through coping strategies. The impact of the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy on the gendered acquisition of early literacy is given detailed consideration. Findings indicate that all these factors do have considerable influence on differences in children's confidence in their approach to literacy attainment. The paper concludes that, with regard to future school policies, there is scope for greater co-operation between teachers in exploring the connections between gender, literacy attainment and classroom processes. It proposes that such explorations should be focused on both girls and boys. It explores ways in which such discussions might be begun. It proposes some ways in which practice might be modified. Suggestions for further classroom research are also made.

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