Sen­si­tive girls should learn to ban­ter like the boys, says head

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION EDI­TOR

SEN­SI­TIVE girls should be taught “ban­ter” at school to toughen them up for the world of work, the head­mistress of a lead­ing girls’ school has said.

Young women need to learn how to laugh at them­selves and over­come “the curse of the good girl”, says Lucy El­phin­stone, the head of Fran­cis Hol­land School, in Sloane Square, west Lon­don.

“I think it’s great if they learn how to ban­ter a lit­tle bit, like boys do. I think girls are, per­haps by na­ture, sen­si­tive and eas­ily hurt,” she said. “Very of­ten when we hear some­thing that is just

‘Girls need to learn to not take them­selves quite so se­ri­ously, to laugh at them­selves a lit­tle bit more’

gen­tle teas­ing, we tend to call it bul­ly­ing and boys would never call each other that.

“They are used to call­ing each other nick­names, push­ing each other around a bit and mak­ing fun of each other – but of­ten it’s a sign of en­dear­ment.

“And girls need to learn to not take them­selves quite so se­ri­ously, to laugh at them­selves a lit­tle bit more and to un­der­stand that teas­ing isn’t nec­es­sar­ily some­thing that is cruel or un­kind.”

She said these im­por­tant les­sons at a young age will “toughen them up a lit­tle bit” and pre­pare girls for life beyond the class­room when “they will get far worse than teas­ing”.

Mrs El­phin­stone said that girls must also be taught about how to “wing it” so they are not at a dis­ad­van­tage to their male peers when it comes to ap­ply­ing for jobs. The head of the £20,000-a-year school, which counts ac­tresses Si­enna Miller and Cara Delev­ingne among its alum­nae, ex­plained: “I don’t mean pre­tend­ing that they are some­thing that they are not.

“I like the fact that we as women tend to be much more authen­tic and truth­ful than men are, some­times to our own detri­ment.

“I cer­tainly teach my girls that well known trait – how to blag it. Some­times you have to go for that job or that po­si­tion when you are not sure if you have all the ex­pe­ri­ence or qual­i­fi­ca­tions nec­es­sary but you are brave enough to have a go and be­lieve in your­self.

“Some­times we need to be able to take risks, to be braver, and some­times to learn how to wing it a bit.”

Per­fect­ing the skills of ban­ter and blag­ging at schools will help girls “a great deal” when they en­ter the work­place, in par­tic­u­lar male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sions such as law, pol­i­tics, bank­ing and fi­nance, Mrs El­phin­stone said.

Girls’ schools are the ideal en­vi­ron­ment to per­fect these skills, she ar­gued, since they can prac­tise ban­ter and blag­ging “with­out fear of los­ing a boyfriend or los­ing a boy’s re­spect or be­ing called brainy or what have you”.

“They can take risks in a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment,” she said. “They can learn to speak up and be brave, with­out think­ing ‘oh my gosh, my whole street cred [will be ru­ined] now and will be all over so­cial me­dia’.”

She added: “I talk at my school about the ‘curse of the good girl’ and how we women are hard-wired to want to please, from a very young age. We en­cour­age girls to take risks, to en­counter fail­ure, to learn that a grade B is not a dis­as­ter, and to laugh at them­selves.”

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