‘Boys underperform in schools because we look after their wellbeing less’

Natasha Devon:

It’s my observation that the world is broadly divided into two types of people: those for whom the link between wellbeing and academic achievement is obvious and therefore requires no explanation and those for whom it is not. And whilst Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that human beings are incapable of learning unless they have their basic needs (which include self-esteem) met, it is an incredibly difficult relationship to measure on the ground.

This is one of the most frustrating things about my job, particularly when I’m met by a hostile geography teacher, seething that my PSHE class has meant their pupils have had to be removed from “proper” lessons. Or by a smug MP who insists that if every child can learn a Keats poem by rote by the time they are 14, it will magically lead to more social mobility.

Last week, my Self-Esteem Team attended a lecture at University College London by Martin Seager, who is part of a research team studying male psychology. In it, Seager argued that psychology suffers from “gender blindness”, in that the profession is reluctant to consider the possibility that men have specific needs. Indeed, Seager argued, we are reluctant to think of men as a gender in their own right at all, thanks to the increasing prevalence of pop-feminism and a widely held and false notion that all men are inherently privileged, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.