He offers plain talk in plain language, without resorting to the jargon of pedagogy. Professor Johnson Unhinged should be required reading in every teacher methodology and parenting class.
Tom Phelan
English Teacher - 30 years, Monassas, VA

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Transform the school, transform society.

Repurposing schools to save young men.

Crime rates, whether going up or down, are always too high and usually center around young, angry, disaffected males. This is nothing new. You can go back to the fifties and watch movies warning society about juvenile delinquents or go back to the forties and watch the Bowery Boys run amok or go way back and read a priceless quote from Aristotle saying that teenagers are going to be the ruin of society. Angry, disaffected, alienated, purposeless young men have always and will always be a problem to society so how about we actually do something about it in a positive way? We can and we should and the first hint in how to do so is that anger never displaces anger. The second is that the school house, if structured properly, is the perfect child saving vehicle.

Father Flanigan, founder of “Boys Town,’ once famously said that there was no such thing as a bad boy. Believe it. If you don’t believe it, get out of the education business. Now, don’t get me wrong. Children can and will do bad things. That does not mean that the child is bad. And what you don’t ever want to do is call a child “bad,” which happens way too often, because then he will internalize this self-view and now you are dealing with a young man who may do some seriously bad things; hence the crime rate.

The very first thing that a school needs to take into account is that all children, no matter their behavior, have the potential to do really good things on this planet. The second is to take into account that many children grow up in homes of stress, strife, and verbal or physical violence. Many children have had a member of the family, neighbor or friend that has spent time in jail or prison. All of this is internalized inside of a child and will unconsciously affect their behavior, self-view and outlook on life. None of this is a child’s fault, because they are simply a child; a good child caught up in a bad situation. There have been numerous studies of children raised in war zones and they have found that their brains attend to information differently, that emotional experience trumps intellectual experience and that personal safety trumps everything. This is valuable information for any school and needs to be taken into account to help children from stressed backgrounds if they are to succeed later on in life.

A child with a negative self-view or one with a negative view of life or a negative view of the future is a whole different child to deal with than one with positive views. I don’t know how to break this to DOE or the legislature, but for emotionally damaged children, the academics taught in a school are at best secondary for that child to have a chance at being a successful adult and productive citizen. If a school’s sole function is the teaching of academics, and constant testing is at the core of the academics, then what happens is that children who are struggling mightily with internal problems, instead of getting help, have academic failure and more stress heaped on their heads, virtually guaranteeing failure as an adult. The school is unwittingly manufacturing angry, disaffected young people, often males, and always seems to be taken aback by what they have wrought – an unacceptable crime rate.  It is a waste of perfectly good children and, as an aside, tons of taxpayer’s money  misspent on separating these children from the rest of society. It absolutely does not have to be this way. If a school is set up properly with a focus on creating successful adults, not simply academics, then you have entered a whole new ballgame, one which helps the child, family and society succeed. I will lay out some specific ideas for this very purpose in my next column entitled “Holistic schools.”  No child is put on this earth to be wasted. Period.


If you are not willing to make personal changes for the betterment of another human being, then don't put yourself in the position of being a parent. In case any of this sounds familiar, you may consider it a THEME, which may come in handy if you have to write a paper on this for school.
Professor Johnson Unhinged - Section on Parenting

7 Minute Lecture Series


01. Introduction
(7 minute Lectures)

02. How to Create a Dropout
(Positive Behavior Shaping)

03. The Phone Call
(Reward Effort)