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As we navigate through a new form of economic era where science, technology, knowledge and services will replace consumer goods as drivers of growth, and the workplace will increasingly value creative abilities, there appears a need for an educational paradigm shift. However, within an Australian context of increasing school accountability, a great deal of emphasis is placed on standards vis-à-vis improving literacy and numeracy skills for students, and measured by high-stake testing. This current Australian agenda is also part of an ongoing concern for improving the educational outcomes and life chances of boys. Through a social justice lens, this paper offers an exploration of how an innovative and creative arts curriculum has the potential to engage and enhance educational outcomes for all students, particularly for boys who are at risk of underachieving. First, this paper offers an explanation of the changing nature of workplace trajectories and the significance of the creative arts in this shifting economic era. Concurrently, as we prepare students for an unknown future, this paper examines how engagement in the creative arts has the potential to facilitate emerging understandings about learning while providing opportunities to develop learner engagement, motivation, cognitive capacities and academic achievement. Second, while avoiding essentialist accounts of gender and recuperative masculinity politics, we recognise that ‘some’ boys are underachieving in schools and that these boys are often from lower socioeconomic communities. We also recognise that many of these boys are disengaged and invest considerable energy performing masculinities that are in opposition to, and resistant to, the formal processes of schooling including participation in the creative arts. Third, we draw on findings from recent research, including a doctoral study, to discuss perceived barriers to boys' engagement with the creative arts and implications for educational practice.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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