19 SES 03, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
The education system in Sweden, as well as in other European countries, has undergone major changes in recent decades. Reforms of decentralisation, management by goals, freedom of choice etcetera have paved the way for the development of a ‘school market’ and a culture of individualism and “competitive performativity” (Ball, 2003, p. 219). Research points at increasing segregation between schools and between groups of students (Skolverket, 2009). A recurring pattern over the years is that girls as a group tend to be more successful in achieving higher grades than boys, a trend sometimes called the ‘poor boys discourse’ (Arnesen, Lahelma & Öhrn, 2008). However, research also put forward the existence of ‘new’ patterns in school due to local variations of gender relations and alternative femininities and masculinities (c.f. Holm & Öhrn, 2007; Jackson, 2006).
The aim of this paper is to explore discourses of gender and study achievements in two secondary schools, and how the importance of marks and performance is communicated by boys, girls and teachers in class room. The theoretical emphases are on the multiple definitions of masculinity and femininity constructed in various local gender regimes (Connell, 1995, 1996, 2009). School is seen as an institution that actively contributes to the construction of gender, both as an institutional agent of the formation processes and as the setting in which they take place.
The study emanates from an ongoing larger research project, Achievement and gender. On teaching, youth groups and local conditions, financed by the Swedish Research Council (2011-2013). The overall project aims to explore the understandings of achievement and gender that are communicated in student peer groups and in various teaching contexts. It also explores boys’ and girls’ conceptions of the meanings of academic achievement for their present and future lives. In all, nine grade 9 classes in the West of Sweden will be selected to include schools in different socio-economic areas and with different levels of educational achievement. In present paper results from two of the selected classes are analyzed and discussed.
Arnesen, A., Lahelma, E. & Öhrn, E. (2008) Travelling Discourses on Gender and Education: the case of boys’ underachievement, Nordisk Pedagogik, 28(1), 1-14. Ball, S. (2003) The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy,18(2), 215–228. Ball, S. (2007) Education Plc: understanding private sector participation in public sector. New York: Routledge. Connell, R.W. (1995) Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press. Connell, R.W. (1996) Teaching the Boys: new research on masculinity, and gender strategies for schools, Teachers College Record, 98(2), 206-235. Connell, R.W. (2009).Gender in world perspective, Cambridge: Polity Press. Holm, A.-S. & Öhrn, E. (2007) Crossing Boundaries: complexities and drawbacks to gendered success stories, in M. Carlson, A. Rabo & F. Gök (Eds) Education in ‘Multicultural’ Societies: Turkish and Swedish perspectives. Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute. Jackson, C. (2006) ‘Wild’ Girls? An Exploration of ‘Ladette’ Cultures in Secondary Schools, Gender and Education, 18(4), 339-360. Skolverket (2009) Vad påverkar resultaten i svensk grundskola? Kunskapsöversikt om betydelsen avolika faktorer. Stockholm: Skolverket.
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