Does gender matter? A cross-national investigation of primary class-room discipline.
Fewer than 15% of primary school teachers in both Germany and the UK are male. With the on-going international debate about educational performance highlighting the widening gender achievement gap between girl and boy pupils, the demand for more male teachers has become prevalent in educational discourse. Concerns have frequently been raised about the underachievement of boys, with claims that the lack of male ‘role models’ in schools has an adverse effect on boys’ academic motivation and engagement. Although previous research has examined ‘teaching’ as institutional talk, men’s linguistic behaviour in the classroom remains largely ignored, especially in regard to enacting discipline. Using empirical spoken data collected from four primary school classrooms in both the UK and in Germany, this paper examines the linguistic discipline strategies of eight male and eight female teachers using Interactional Sociolinguistics to address the question, does teacher gender matter?