I recently Tweeted about this fascinating article, in which a psychologist argues that Ritalin and other drugs are not the answer to Attention Deficit Disorder, and that they have no long-term benefits. I subsequently received an unsolicited email from a teacher on the same subject. I have obtained this person’s permission to publish the email as a guest post. I hope you’ll agree that it makes interesting reading!
Scandalous number of ‘Ritalin Kids’ in schools:
‘drugged up to keep the peace’
The huge number of ‘Ritalin Kids’ in ‘normal’ schools is absolutely scandalous. The reason so many kids today need these drugs is that these drugs modify behaviour – yet ALL behaviour is learned. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying ADS, but it is clearly being allowed to dominate from infancy, so we have many kids who simply have not their behavioural tendencies trained out of them as infants, the way kids would have had in the past. By the time they get to school age it’s too late and the easy fix is to drug ’em up to keep the peace.
Meaningful communication from parents vital.
Third of 15-year-olds illiterate.
Similarly, kids who have not experienced meaningful communication from parents as infants, and for whom reading and writing are not part of home life, simply do not progress in literacy and communication skills. I estimate that about a third of 15-year-olds that I come across are functionally illiterate. They are not inherently stupid (although this is often the impression they give), they simply haven’t had their ‘illiteracy’ trained out of them. Likewise, the Ritalin Kids and the rest who do not take the drugs, are not inherently badly behaved – they simply haven’t had the level of socialisation and training to suppress their behaviours in favour of those which are more socially ‘acceptable’.
Number of teenagers with speech impediments astonishing.
Teachers do their best.
In the past, left-handed kids were forced to learned to write perfectly with their right hand. Kids with low academic ability were forced to read and write to a high standard, and kids with attention difficulties were forced to be attentive. Kids with speech impediments were simply forced to speak correctly. End of story. The number of teenagers in schools who have speech impediments these days is also quite astonishing. For many kids today, nobody cares. Nobody intervenes. Teachers do their best with one hand – sometimes both – tied behind their backs. Kids have a human right to speak incorrectly, grow up illiterate, and behave unacceptably.
Policy of inclusion means disruptive kids normalise bad behaviour.
Local authorities save money as sanity of teachers threatened
and discipline problems go unrecorded.
Remember that today we have a policy of inclusion in schools, which means that disruptive and uncontrollable kids have the right to ruin the learning experience for YOUR kids. This exposes your ‘good’ kids to unacceptable behaviour, making it appear normal and even worth copying, since it is the disruptive kids who get most attention. Schools will have you believe that your kids – who are, of course, focussed, well-mannered and keen to learn – have the right to learn in an appropriate environment. In fact they will probably have a big shiny poster to this effect in every classroom for inspectors to see. But it’s bollocks, because teachers and schools do not have the authority to remove disruptive kids. They HAVE to include them. Everybody suffers, but the wellbeing of the majority of kids and the sanity of teachers is less important than getting a pat on the back for saving the local authority money on providing what used to be called ‘special’ schools. Schools which exclude pupils are regarded as failing schools and they get bad reports, because it is seen as evidence of poor discipline and mismanagement. Schools which allow disruptive kids to ‘participate’ in classes alongside your kids are praised to the heavens. The statistics suggest that these schools don’t have discipline problems, but in fact they simply avoid recording them internally. Exclusions are avoided at all costs because these are recorded across the local authority, and no school wants to be bottom of the class, as it were.
Ritalin just another example of short-termism
Anyway, the whole Ritalin thing is an example of how we try to apply a dodgy short-term ‘cure’ to a problem for which we used to know how to prevent. Yes, kids maybe had it tough in the past with stricter social and educational intervention, but surely that was better than stuffing them full of chemicals, which doesn’t actually cure the problem.