Practicing high school English teacher and author Bruce Pirie has found the evidence unmistakable: teenage boys are not as successful in English studies as girls. Boys are also less likely to enjoy reading or see themselves as committed English students. Why is that? And, more importantly, what can a teacher do about it? His book answers these questions and offers practical strategies that address boys’ difficulties not only in reading and writing, but speaking, listening, thinking, and feeling as well. By pulling together research from the fields of psychology, sociology, linguistics, and education, then measuring that research against his own years teaching in the secondary classroom, Pirie has been able to map the hurdles that stand in the way of boys’ achievement.
The essence of his findings revolves around the kinds of thinking and feeling the English classroom values, and the kinds of thinking and feeling teenage boys are able, or allowed, to express. What Pirie offers is a beautifully written book of possibilities: for young men to grow beyond limiting, damaging stereotypes, and for masculinity and literacy to enter into a new, more fruitful alliance. Pirie also thoughtfully demonstrates that these positive changes for boys invariably lead to positive changes for girls in the classroom as well. Teachers will recognize their own students in Pirie’s account of classroom life, and will discover a wealth of strategies that can be applied immediately. They will also gain a richer understanding of what it means to be a teenage boy today and a new appreciation of the qualities boys can bring to the English classroom.