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A selection of books, including the latest release; Neuroscience and Teaching Very Difficult Kids  by John R Frew (Author), available now;

Neuroscience and Teaching Very Difficult Kids  by John R Frew (Author)

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. 

Insights Into The Modern Classroom  by John R Frew (Author)

This book of essays follows John's previous publication, THE IMPACT OF MODERN NEUROSCIENCE ON CONTEMPORARY TEACHING, and is a more practical guide to working in modern classrooms with a focus on dealing with students who present challenging behaviours.

The essays track his journey over forty years of teaching; a significant amount of that time was spent working with children who displayed severely dysfunctional behaviours.  Working with these extremely difficult kids allowed John to develop a philosophy around education that differs from the mainstream in that it is inclusive of problem children.

The Impact of Modern Neuroscience on Contemporary Teaching  by John R Frew (Author)

Since the 1990s, there has been an explosion in the awareness of the impact of the development and function of the brain on schooling. The availability of techniques like magnetic resonance imaging allows scientists to examine how the brain functions with increasing accuracy; it is at the core of neuroscience and increasingly psychiatry. The results have allowed educators to improve their approach to teaching and learning, but these ideas habitually clash with the traditional structure of educational theory, which is underpinned by cognitive practises.

This new information can assist teachers in dealing not only with a student's learning but also in understanding the causes of severely dysfunctional behaviour and techniques for managing behaviours that impact on the learning of individuals and their peers.


A selection of blogs, essays, videos of presentations and connections to existing resources. We will provide updates frequently, so check back soon for more.


Dealing with Difficult People

PDF DOWNLOAD. An outline of a workshop delivered to assist staff to deal with parents who can cause substantial levels of stress in an educator’s working life.

The Second Chance: The Teenage Brain

PDF DOWNLOAD. It is now accepted that the brain develops from the back to the frontal lobes. This process has two beginnings: the first at birth and the second at the onset of puberty. It is this second period that has importance for teachers and parents, as the awkward behaviour of teenagers is not their fault but part of them becoming independent adults.

Mirror Neurons

PDF DOWNLOAD Mirror neurons have recently been discovered, and the significance of this discovery is profound for educators.  Their existance explains how we are equipped to learn not only through experience but also by observation.  The implication for teachers and parents is that what we do is as important as what we say.

Shame Powerpoint

PDF POWER POINT. The Power Point is to be used in conjunction with information in the Article about the development of shame.  Use this as a template to develop your own version to share with colleagues

Dealing With Students Who Have Severe dysfunctioning Behaviours

PDF DOWNLOAD: The problem for schools that have students with behaviours that are so extreme is there is little policy support from education departments.  At best the bureaucrats will conduct reviews into this issue and present their findings however, the next step – what to do about it is lacking.  This essay examines the next step.

Equity Matters Disability Symposium - Presentation Notes

PDF DOWNLOAD There is a significant group of students, concentrated in low SES, public schools whose disability has a devastating impact on their learning outcomes, the learning outcomes of their peers and the effectiveness of their teacher’s efforts.  These students suffer from early childhood abuse and/or neglect and the resulting dysfunctional behaviours create a chaotic environment in their classes and schools.

Human Needs and Drives

PDF DOWNLOAD: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has remained unchallenged in the psychological literature. However, his approach lacks reference to the evolutionary structure of the brain. This paper presents a new model of human needs and drives that explains behaviour and clarifies the need for satiation of survival needs before cognitive learning can take place.


PDF DOWNLOAD. Creativity is recognised as the essential quality our students should have when they graduate from all of our tertiary institutions.  So, it follows that schools should be ‘teaching’ this characteristic.

Children of the Lie

PDF DOWNLOAD Some of the most curious conversations I have with parents include this phrase: ‘My child would not lie to me.’ Lying, as much as it is ethically a conundrum, is practised in any community, and this essay examines the types and motives that used in our day-to-day exchanges.

Public Education and the new Student Behaviour Strategy

There is a sense of deja-vu with the release of the new Student Behaviour Strategy that again demonstrates the disconnect between public schools, where teaching takes place and the accepted authorities; the education bureaucracy and academia. This current ‘policy’ is one of successive attempts to deal with severely disruptive student behaviour in schools. 

Interventions Chapter 4 'Neuroscience and Teaching Very Difficult Kids'

The goal of intervention should never be to change the child but to empower them and then let the child understand they have the power to change if they want to.

Acting To Protect Yourself

Children who have a sense of toxic shame about their sense of self will act to protect this feeling of disgrace from others. This essay outlines the motives and techniques of protecting a sense of shame and healthy ways of acting to learn to live with imperfection. This essay offers an alternative explanation of addiction.

Disability Symposium

PDF DOWNLOAD This is a presentation about a disability that is the result of abuse and neglect

The Impact of Trauma

PDF DOWNLOAD. The impact of emotion on learning is at the heart of the position taken throughout this work.  This essay examines the evolution of the sense of self through feelings and the impact abuse has on that sense.

Locus of Control

PDF DOWNLOAD. Often, when there is a disagreement between individuals there will be some fault. The hallmark of being an adult is that you own the things you did wrong. This essay traces a real issue I had with a student who took no responsibility for his actions and how, through the use of the concept of ‘locus of control’ I had some success at making a small change.

Challenging Behaviours

PDF DOWNLOAD. This essay critiques the existing approaches to challenging behaviours and concludes that much of the ‘commercial’ programs are little more than well-packaged common sense.  Common sense works for the vast majority of students’ misbehaviour but there is a small core of very damaged children that require much more than feel good programs.  This article examines this problem and offers some suggestions.

The Development of a Sense of Shame

PDF DOWNLOAD Shame is a powerful emotion that protects us from acting contrary to our set of beliefs.  When we do so, we feel ashamed about what we did.  Children from abused backgrounds have a sense of shame, not about what they do but what they believe they are.  This has a profound effect on these students’ ability to learn.

Independent Behaviour Programs - Contracting for Behaviour Gains

The use of a structured program that is especially designed to deal with these behaviours can assist with managing the behaviour in the short term and moulding permanent functional behaviours in the long term.  This structure takes the form of independent behaviour program (IBP) that the teacher can construct preferably with the child, his/her parents and the teachers supervisor.  However, if the child and/or their parents do not want to participate it is important that they know the process and the consequences for behaviour.


PDF DOWNLOAD For students with backgrounds of abuse and neglect the process for relaxation can be very threatening. To relax, you need to focus on your internal world, limiting your attention on the stimulus that flows in from the external world.  The following provides some techniques to help educators guide their students into relaxation.

The Use of Time Out

PDF Download: The use of Time Out can be beneficial, but it must be done properly to avoid abusimg the students.

Stress and its impact on Brain Development

We have to acquire behaviours so we can meet our basic needs but we do more than just follow our genes, our nature, than any other species we learn from the way we are nurtured.

The Impact of early Trauma and Abuse - Chapter 3

Students who experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from early childhood abuse suffer in at least two ways in controlling their behaviour in school and in their later life.  The first is the significant brain damage to critical areas of the brain that regulate the child’s ability to contain dysfunctional behaviours.  The second is the belief systems around how they should behave given a set circumstances presented by the environment.  Tragically these disabilities have most often been ‘put-on’ them by their primary care-givers.

List of Newsletters and Dates

This is a list of all previous newsletters as of 30 January 2023

Relaxation Script

There are many excellent books that will teach you how to relax. The one I like best is Wayne Dwyer’s Relaxation Response. He outlines techniques that are fairly advanced; however, you only need to develop enough proficiency to survive the initial feelings associated with stressful situations.

Resources for Managing Severe Behaviours in Children and Adolescents


John R Frew
Marcia J Vallance

ABN 64 372 518 772


The principals of the company have had long careers in education with a combined total of eighty-one years service.  After starting as mainstream teachers they both moved into careers in providing support for students with severe behaviours.

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