This is a qualitative study of a small group of men on a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education programme based in a university education department, as they undergo the process of learning to become secondary English teachers. Contributing to research into men and masculinities, the study considers the discourse of English as a gendered curriculum space and that of teaching as a feminised environment. The subject is particularly worthy of investigation as this group of individuals seems to be moving counter to what research tells us are current trends of male performance in, and cultural affiliation with, English as a school subject. The study presents the factors that influenced the men to opt for this career choice and to have developed such an affinity for the subject in the first place.
Having embarked upon the journey of teacher education, the study reveals that these male student teachers of English report experiencing Issues in learning to teach the subject that have come to be associated with boys' performance in schools, particularly in English. Once on placement in schools, these hitherto successful students of English often come to be perceived as 'problems' by mentors who are particularly critical of their planning and classroom management, judging them as lazy and overly relaxed in their relationships with pupils.
Often lacking an effective male role model, the men resort to developing a classroom persona that reflects the gendered performance of their female mentors. The study reveals the men's interconnected adaptations and negotiations as they seek an authentic way of being a man, within subject and professional spaces that they come to see as feminised. Their experience means that the men must both reconsider their masculinities and renegotiate relationships with colleagues, pupils and the subject of English.