Oliver Twist was denied the opportunity to form an attachment with his mother. Fiction, yes, but the association between attachment and value as a reason for action is compelling. Between 1969 and 1980 John Bowlby published his influential theories on attachment behaviour, the main theoretical underpinning of Peer Attachments and Social Deviancy in the Primary School
PRIMARY SCHOOL BOYS’ IDENTITY FORMATION AND THE MALE ROLE MODEL: An Exploration of Sexual Identity and Gender Identity in the UK Through Attachment Theory.
This paper questions the concept of feminisation which has been invoked by some commentators to explain the widely reported difficulties with boys. Drawing on a detailed study of attachment behaviour in an English primary school, it present evidence which justifies the claim that high status boys rather than teachers are the most important role models for other boys.
Women Teaching Boys: caring and working in the primary school. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham, (2003).
Driven by a government “panic” about the lack of male teachers, further research was undertaken with John Lee in eight contrasting primary schools. Y4 and Y6 boys (aged 8/9 and 10/11) were asked to discuss teacher gender and the need for more male teachers. The book is good news for female teachers! The boys liked them and saw no need to increase the number of males. Women Teaching Boys does not take this as a reason for maintaining the status quo of a female dominated profession – but it does look in detail at the qualities considered important in a good teacher by the boys. These have much more to do with such things as discipline, subject knowledge, patience, humour and the ability to explain things well than gender. The book is an indictment of simplistic ideas about role modelling and rightly asks the question “what kind of men?”
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2012 Visiting Professorial Scholarship to University of Queensland, with Professor Martin Mills.
The contribution of fathers and male carers was a principal theme to be examined through the lens of attachment theory after further work in a socially deprived town in the North of England.
Do Boys Need "Lads and Dads"?: Interventions to increase resilience in the face of educational failure.
The full seminar paper is available here.