This book explores how boys learn to be men in schools while policing their own and others’ sexuality. He focuses on the students’ confusions and contradictions in their gendered experiences and upon how schools produce, through the official and hidden curriculum, a range of masculinities which young men come to inhabit. He does full justice to the complex phenomenon of male heterosexual subjectivities and to the role of schooling in forming sexual identities.
This book is a refreshing and yet worryingly recognisable look at education for anyone that attended school during the 1980s or 90s, for anyone that taught during that time or now, and for anyone interested in pedagogy with a desire of getting the best out of children during their passage through their education and the school system.
Mac An Ghaill deals with sometimes uncomfortable issues: from sex, religion, race, and the complexities of student – teacher relationships, and teacher – teacher (colleague) relationships. Breaking down perceived and catalogued ‘types’ of personalities and character into various meaningful categories, e.g. Neo-Conservatives, or those sometimes self-given, e.g. ‘New Englanders’ or ‘The Posse’, Mac An Ghaill successfully provides a refreshing space to understand the various intertextual and often opposing but equally valid viewpoints of masculinity. Sadly, what he can’t do is resolve these complexities for us. This book does, however, offer a space and a time where consideration and thought can be applied to issues that have accelerated since this book was first published. It is a must read for those who care about the passage of (male) youth, education and integration of a generation who remain disaffected, and face unprecedented levels of unemployment. British society really needs to evaluate these issues on an national level and recognise that without serious intervention, there will continue to be children who are missed and lost, perhaps even failed, by the education system. And it is just possible, and it certainly seems to be turning out to be the case, that there will be a greater proportion of young males with high-levels of anger left reeling in the breeze.
See: Mairtin Mac An Ghaill, The making of men: masculinities, sexualities and schooling (Oxford: Open University Press, 1994)