Exploring Australian Boys' Attitudes Towards Reading in the Middle Years

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Concerns about boys’ educational engagement and achievements in education have been highlighted at an international level for some time. In the traditional centres of the English-speaking world, an argument about literacy and the teaching of reading was developed based on claims about boys’ special needs. Results from Australian primary school literacy tests indicate boys achieve at lower rates than girls. However, these results may also be attributed to factors other than methods for the early teaching of reading skills. These factors may include mild reading and learning difficulties, language backgrounds other than English, socio-economic status, rural and remote locations, as well as the gendered practices involved with being a boy.

In the extensive analyses of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessments (2000), questions about engagement with school education, and engagement with reading were suggested as more meaningful frames for discussions about boys’ literacy achievements. The initial PISA survey of 15-year-old students’ assessed their ability to solve real-life problems with a primary focus on the application of reading skills. The reading skills assessed in the survey included abilities in retrieving information, making literal or efferent interpretations, and reflective and evaluative skills or aesthetic responses to prose texts. Analysis of Australian boys’ results, in conjunction with a survey of engagement with reading, suggests a greater correlation between achievements in literacy and reading for enjoyment outside school.

In view of the argument about the teaching of reading and the implications of the PISA survey, this qualitative and interpretive research project set out to explore Australian boys’ ideas and attitudes toward reading from their point of view. Results suggest that Australian English teachers may need to revisit Rosenblatt’s aesthetics of reading in the teaching of literature.


Keywords: Boys and Reading, The Middle Years of School, Literacy Achievement and Reading Engagement, Aesthetics of Reading
Stream: Literary Arts Practices
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Maxine Debra Broughton

Post Graduate Research Student., Arts, English and Literacy Education Research Network
Faculty of Education & Social Work, The University of Sydney

Sydney, NSW, Australia

My previous working experience includes the graphic arts and telecommunications industries. I am currently preparing a final draft thesis for a Doctorate by Research after completing a four year undergraduate degree in Education (Secondary Humanities), at The University of Sydney. As part of the research process, I worked as a Support Teacher in the location of my research, and participated as a Marker in the first Australian National Assessment of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 literacy assessments.

Ref: A09P0338