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Learning the Hard Way: Masculinity, Place, and the Gender Gap in Education

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An avalanche of recent newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, scholarly journals, and academic books has helped to spark a heated debate by publishing warnings of a “boy crisis” in which male students at all academic levels have begun falling behind their female peers. In Learning the Hard Way, Edward W. Morris explores and analyzes detailed ethnographic data on this purported An avalanche of recent newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, scholarly journals, and academic books has helped to spark a heated debate by publishing warnings of a “boy crisis” in which male students at all academic levels have begun falling behind their female peers. In Learning the Hard Way, Edward W. Morris explores and analyzes detailed ethnographic data on this purported gender gap between boys and girls in educational achievement at two low-income high schools—one rural and predominantly white, the other urban and mostly African American. Crucial questions arose from his study of gender at these two schools. Why did boys tend to show less interest in and more defiance toward school? Why did girls significantly outperform boys at both schools? Why did people at the schools still describe boys as especially “smart”? Morris examines these questions and, in the process, illuminates connections of gender to race, class, and place. This book is not simply about the educational troubles of boys, but the troubled and complex experience of gender in school. It reveals how particular race, class, and geographical experiences shape masculinity and femininity in ways that affect academic performance. His findings add a new perspective to the “gender gap” in achievement.


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An avalanche of recent newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, scholarly journals, and academic books has helped to spark a heated debate by publishing warnings of a “boy crisis” in which male students at all academic levels have begun falling behind their female peers. In Learning the Hard Way, Edward W. Morris explores and analyzes detailed ethnographic data on this purported An avalanche of recent newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, scholarly journals, and academic books has helped to spark a heated debate by publishing warnings of a “boy crisis” in which male students at all academic levels have begun falling behind their female peers. In Learning the Hard Way, Edward W. Morris explores and analyzes detailed ethnographic data on this purported gender gap between boys and girls in educational achievement at two low-income high schools—one rural and predominantly white, the other urban and mostly African American. Crucial questions arose from his study of gender at these two schools. Why did boys tend to show less interest in and more defiance toward school? Why did girls significantly outperform boys at both schools? Why did people at the schools still describe boys as especially “smart”? Morris examines these questions and, in the process, illuminates connections of gender to race, class, and place. This book is not simply about the educational troubles of boys, but the troubled and complex experience of gender in school. It reveals how particular race, class, and geographical experiences shape masculinity and femininity in ways that affect academic performance. His findings add a new perspective to the “gender gap” in achievement.

30 review for Learning the Hard Way: Masculinity, Place, and the Gender Gap in Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    This is a really interesting study! The conclusions are fascinating and consistent with others I have read. They are fairly well-supported, but this book is missing definitions and, in some cases, stronger supports, especially regarding girls in the classroom. I read this for a class and a number of my classmates came out of this book with the understanding that biological determinism is a valid explanation for the gender gap in schools, so I think Morris may have needed to make it even more cle This is a really interesting study! The conclusions are fascinating and consistent with others I have read. They are fairly well-supported, but this book is missing definitions and, in some cases, stronger supports, especially regarding girls in the classroom. I read this for a class and a number of my classmates came out of this book with the understanding that biological determinism is a valid explanation for the gender gap in schools, so I think Morris may have needed to make it even more clear that it is not a legitimate explanation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)

    3.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ilias

  5. 5 out of 5

    solana

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    Andrew

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    Sarah

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    Jane J.

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    T.R. Flockhart

  10. 5 out of 5

    Noles Maven

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emily Maag

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Trumpy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Davis

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    Kaitlyn

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    Bek Dawson

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    Foxmj

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    Chandler

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

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    Casey Hibbard

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Mcdonald

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    Michelle

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christabel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wilson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 5 out of 5

    MaryAnn Vega

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy Seale

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jami

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kealy Reed

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