Using Critical Praxis and Activism to Create Uncomfortable Spaces
Chapter 3: Mining and Morphing Theories to Conceptualize Complexity
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MINING AND MORPHING THEORIES TO CONCEPTUALIZE COMPLEXITY
Learning to Rethink
My concern over the disproportionately high number of boys performing poorly at Wheatville’s schools had evolved to become a complex qualitative study of a study of the gender beliefs and practices of a whole community. For years I had been working collaboratively with teachers to develop and implement curriculum programs within and across the community’s schools. Many of these programs were designed to target boys’ disengagement and poor academic performances. In carrying out my work I had used federally funded multisite programs that emphasized authentic task-based learning as a way of reigniting boys’ passion for their schoolwork. This was something experience—and data collected from the local schools—had taught me began to diminish for many boys at the ages of 9 or 10. With the advantage of hindsight, I now suspect that whilst these programs did improve behavioral and academic outcomes for some students at a moment in time, they were unsustainable and generally had no long-term impact on boys who were resisting classroom learning. As soon as funding cut out and the programs finished, students (and sometimes teachers) would move on to their next class, reverting to their previous practices and performances. ← 41 | 42 →
I needed to consider an alternative approach. Adopting sociocultural understandings of gender as discursively constituted and constituting made me rethink the inevitability of boys’ underperformances. I started to focus on the gender messages our boys...
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