“This is the modern epidemic, the plague of ADHD, and it’s fictitious. Don’t mistake me; I don’t mean to say there is no such thing as Attention-Deficit Disorder… What I do know for a fact is it’s not an epidemic. These kids are being medicated as routinely as we had our tonsils taken out, and on the same whimsical basis and for the same reason: medical fashion.
Our children are living in the most intensive stimulating period in the history of the earth. They’re being besieged with information and coerced for attention from every platform: computers, from iPhones, from advertising hoardings, from hundreds of television channels. And we’re penalizing them now for getting distracted. From what? Boring stuff.
At school, for the most part. It seems to me not a coincidence, totally, that the instance of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of the standardized testing. Now these kids are being given Ritalin and Aderol and all manner of things, often quite dangerous drugs, to get them focused and calm them down… It’s a fictitious epidemic.
If you think of it, the arts, and I don’t say this exclusively to the arts, I think it’s also true of science and of maths, but I say about arts particularly because they are the victims of this mentality currently, particularly. The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing, when you are fully alive.
An anesthetic is when you shut your senses off and deaden yourself to what’s happening. And a lot of these drugs are that. We are getting our children through education by anesthetizing them. And I think we should be doing the exact opposite. We shouldn’t be putting them to sleep, we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves!
But the model we have is this: I believe we have a system of education that is modeled on the interests of industrialism and in the image of it. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Schools are still pretty much organized on factory lines: ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches, you know, we put them through the system by age group.
Why do we do that? Why is there this assumption that the most important thing kids have in common is how old they are? You know, it’s like the most important thing about them is their date of manufacture. Well, I know some kids who are are much better than other kids at the same age in different disciplines, or at different times of the day, or better in smaller groups than large groups, or sometimes they want to be on their own.
If you’re interested in the model of learning you don’t start from this production line mentality. It’s essentially about conformity and it’s increasingly about that as you look at the growth of standardized testing and standardized curricula. And it’s about standardization.”
Excerpt from “Changing Education Paradigms”
Image at top, students in China taking exams outdoors to limit cheating