Like a lot of parents, I’m eyeing the beginning of the school year with relief and sorrow.
Our baby is beginning to live her own life. The years are rolling on, and my husband and I
are slowly but surely shifting in orbit from the center of her universe to hovering somewhere
on the periphery.
I had dinner a few weeks ago with a brilliant friend who happens to work in the health care
industry, helping streamline processes and troubleshooting systems (yes, she’s very, very
busy). Thinking of some children I know who are incredibly bright but struggle in school, I
asked her about ADHD. She laughed wryly. “Also known as boredom?” And then she
In her experience, she’s discovered four commonalities between Attention Deficit and the
other “social” disorders that are applied to kids like designer labels.
Number One: These kids are bored. They’re bored in school. They’re bored at home.
They’re bored everywhere in-between. They just don't see the point to any of it.
Number Two: Big Pharmaceutical companies are in charge of the United States health
care system. That means Big Pharma is also in charge of how these children are “managed”.
The doctors tend to defer and refer to the drugs and medical solutions offered by global
Number Three: The children usually have depressed parents who may or may not be
Number Four: The children are most often drugged for the sake of the adults (parents,
teachers, caregivers). Now, it could be argued that the drugs help the children function in
school, which in turn helps them function in life. But I maintain that the real issue lies with
our school system failing the children, not the children failing to fit into an antiquated
organization that really serves no one’s needs and is desperate need of a complete overhaul.
A few nights later, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop when I was startled by hubby
Thomas abruptly bellowing, “isosceles triangle!” He was watching a TV game show titled
“Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” where contestants playing for a million dollars
answer questions based on subjects like 4rd grade geography, 2nd grade social studies, and
1st grade animal science. While I watched adults struggle to remember facts like the exact
definition of a hypotenuse, it occurred to me that our children might be bored in school for
a damn good reason.
Let’s face it. By the time we reach the ripe old age of 30, we can look back and really
appreciate the sheer volume of irrelevant information we memorized in school. How many of
us remember the difference between a proper and improper fraction? And more importantly,
how many of us actually NEED to remember? At this point, we also realize that we know
what we know, and what we don’t know, we simply find out. So why do we still subject our
own children to the same, rigorous diet of obscure, superfluous facts and endless testing?
Is it the satisfaction of sharing the experience? “I had to suffer, and so do you- that’s the
way life is?”
Instead of supporting the old, tired and broken-down machine by medicating the children
who are illustrating the fact that this old bus is about to collapse entirely, why don’t we get
together and rethink and rebuild the school system from the ground up? Why don’t we take
a good, hard look at what matters, including teaching our children to be emotionally
intelligent as well?
Oh, and for the record--- I am SO not smarter than a 5th grader.
|Entry for September 01, 2007
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To School We Go