Men training to be secondary English teachers : a case study
Thomas, Keith Robert
This is a case study of seven men training to be secondary English teachers on a one year Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in a. university department of education. Men training to be English teachers are worthy of investigation because men are in a minority both on PGCE secondary English courses and in English departments in schools in England. As more women than men teach English in secondary schools, initial training takes place in predominantly female English departments and school mentors are more likely to be female. Within this statistical context, this qualitative study attempts to understand what happens to a group of men during their initial training as they enter part of the education profession that is predominantly female. Men's socialisation and processes of adaptation have been widely researched in the predominantly female areas of early years and primary education, but have been hitherto overlooked in the secondary sector, in spite of the perception of the feminisation of the subject of English. In the study, female mentors are shown to possess gendered stereotypical expectations of male trainees regarding their ability to work hard, organise paperwork, plan effectively and exert forceful power. With limited access to other male English teachers, the male trainees resist the classroom management strategies they observe, preferring to be `comfortable', `laid back' and `jokey'. They develop more gentle teaching styles and personae that they see as appropriate for male teachers working with teenagers. Their relationship with the subject of English also shifts as they reject the new emphasis on functional literacy and embrace the literature components of the English curriculum, which are more familiar to them. Their experience of training forces the men to reconsider their masculinities and to renegotiate relationships with colleagues, pupils and the subject of English. The analysis of the interrelationship between the three areas of masculinities, initial teacher development and the subject of English reveals deeper knowledge of each. Within the richness of the findings, the interconnections between the three areas are explored and a unique body of knowledge about male English teachers during their training is revealed.