“I feel like everybody has come together. It’s like a family here. I’m happy to come to school every day.”
— Robert, High School Student
Father Flanagan believed that children aren’t inherently bad; they’re only as bad or good as their environment and education. Nearly a century later, Boys Town is still guided by his forward-thinking philosophy — although it has expanded beyond residential care for at-risk youth to include a variety of services.
One such service is the Boys Town Educational Model®, which has seen great success in helping underperforming urban schools develop an atmosphere that promotes learning.
Regaining Control of the Classroom
It’s a simple fact: When teachers spend class time disciplining students rather than teaching, those students aren’t learning. The Boys Town Educational Model is a comprehensive approach to education that empowers administrators and educators to address disruptive behavior while creating a safe environment that promotes learning, so teachers spend more class time teaching.
Some aspects of the Boys Town Educational Model come from our experience implementing the Boys Town Model® in our residential homes. Teaching social skills and empowering children to make good decisions, in particular, are two characteristics that have found their way into this approach.
Dispassionate Discipline is Key
As in Boys Town Family Homes, we stress giving out negative consequences for negative behaviors in a fair, consistent and unemotional manner in our schools. We often use the example of getting a speeding ticket from a police officer. After he or she has pulled you over, the officer does not scold you; he or she simply explains what you have done wrong and then writes you a ticket for it. You then drive off — very carefully — and get on with your day. This approach prevents a situation from getting out of hand. It also gets everyone back to what they were previously doing — in this case, teaching and learning.
At-risk youth can all too often fall through the cracks of our educational system and get left behind to fend for themselves. But if we improve our schools and the learning experience they provide, we can give these children and their families a chance at a brighter future.
Were he alive today, Father Flanagan would likely approve of the Boys Town Education Model; he would recognize his guiding philosophy at the heart of it, and he would see children who once might have been on the wrong path heading for future success.