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By: John R. Frew

Neuroscience and Teaching Very Difficult Kids

Pages: 168 Ratings:
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Teaching students whose behaviour is so ‘out of control’ is a challenge faced by all teachers in modern schools. Contemporary approaches have focused on dealing with the presenting behaviours and attempting to control those. This approach may deal with the problem in the short term but creates no long-term solution.

This work accepts that the majority of extremely dysfunctional behaviour is carried out by children who have suffered early, persistent trauma and/or neglect. Disruptive conduct can be explained by the effect their early childhood environment has had on the neural construction of their brain. These children are not ‘born bad’ but behave this way because of the ‘parenting’ they received in their early life. These are the children who have graduated out of these dysfunctional environments.

Recognising this provides the key to understanding how to deal with these kids. Because the social conditions created these problems, if we change those conditions, over time these children will develop different behaviours to get their fundamental needs met. The solution lies in the fact that everyone acts to get their needs met in the environment in which they live, so it makes sense to present an environment that demands different behaviours to satisfy these needs.

The book provides a description about how the early childhood environment creates the neural scaffold that drives dysfunctional behaviour and how developing a well-defined classroom environment will make a positive contribution to changing that behaviour.


John R. Frew has worked in education for almost fifty years and during that time has operated in a wide range of schools and specialist settings. He was appointed as foundation principal at a secondary school for students with conduct disorder and oppositional disturbance where he served for ten years. During his time at the school, John researched and studied the causes and interventions for dealing with these children. While there, he wrote three publications that supported other workers in the field. These included:


• Back on Track – a goal setting program for dysfunctional students

• Taming Anger – a series of worksheets for students to deal with their anger

• The Classroom Management Program.


John finished his career in mainstream secondary school as a principal where he has continued his work in dealing with students with severe behaviours through his consultancy practice, Frew Consultants Group, which provides support for teachers and schools, especially those who struggle with children having dysfunctioning behaviours. He has produced over 120 regular free newsletters of teaching tips for all school staff.


Since retirement, John has released further two books of essays, The Impact of Modern Neuroscience on Contemporary Teaching and Insights into the Modern Classroom that discuss various aspects of teaching damaged kids. This latest book, Neuroscience and Teaching Very Difficult Kids is designed to be a guidebook for practicing educators in all school settings.

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