Education and ADHD

‘And this is deep in the gene pool of public education; there are only two types of people – academic and non-academic; smart people and non smart people. And the consequence of that is that many brilliant people think they’re not because they’ve been judged against this particular view of the mind. So we have twin pillars – economic and intellectual. And my view is that this model has caused chaos in many people’s lives; it’s been great for some, there have been people who have benefited wonderfully from it. But most people have not. Instead they suffer this; this is the modern epidemic and it’s as misplaced and as it’s fictitious. This is the plague of ADHD.

[…] Don’t mistake me, I don’t mean to say there is no such thing as Attention Deficit Disorder. I’m not qualified to say if there is such a thing. I know that a great majority of psychologists and paediatricians think there is such a thing, but it’s still a matter of debate. 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 intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth. They’re being besieged with information and calls for their attention from every platform -computers, from iPhones, from advertising hoardings, from hundreds of television channels and we’re penalising them now for getting distracted. From what? Boring stuff at school, for the most part.

It seems to me it’s not a coincidence totally that the incidence of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of standardised testing. Now these kids are being given Ritalin and Adderall and all manner of things, often quite dangerous drugs, to get them focused and calm them down. But according to this [map], Attention Deficit Disorder increases as you travel east across the country. People start losing interest in Oklahoma, they can hardly think straight in Arkansas and by the time they get to Washington they’ve lost it completely. And there are separate reasons for that I believe. It’s a fictitious epidemic.’

– Robinson, K. (2008, June 16) Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Education and ADHD

  1. Interesting installment. I have several members of my family who have been diagnosed as ADD/ADHD, including one young man who enjoys the self-deprecating joke, “I have ADH – oooh, shiny!

  2. Totally agree with the ADHD article’s premise. It is a fictitious epidemic, but it sells drugs, and gives a medical-legal aura to another invasion of privacy upon a captive and helpless group. Brave New World…

  3. There is a very precise test for ADHD, the TOVA test. It is run by a computer and expensive to purchase. TOVA stands for ‘Test of Variable Attention.’ It precisely measures how quickly people can shift their attention when directed to do so.

    10% of the population measures as having significantly less of an ability to contol the focus of their attention.

    Thom Hartmann developed the Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis of ADHD. Before the agricultural revolution, when humans were hunter gatherers, they needed to be very in tune with their environment. “Distractability” helped ensure survival. Who in the group will first notice danger on the horizon? The distractable one.

    After farming was developed, the ability to control attention became more important. One needed an ability to control one’s attention so as to complete the repetitive tasks required for farming. Farming allowed a huge population increase; Thus farming became essential for survival. Distractibility was not as much of a benefit to survival.

    I say ‘distractability was not as much of a benefit to survival’ because it is clearly helpful to have a small percentage of your group who are distractable. While 90% of the group is carrying on with the necessary-to-survival task of, say, digging roots, the 10% that have trouble keeping their attention focused will be alert to changes, which could help the group survive a danger.

    Any time a trait has evolved to affect a significant percentage of a population, (10% for ADHD, 25% for major depression, etc) that trait is very likely helpful to the group as a whole. Autism may be a notable exception. It’s probably that autism did not evolve naturally–its incidence has increased too rapidly to have evolved naturally. The increase in autism better correlates with a whole host of man-made, massive changes to the biosphere. That makes it more probable that some, or several, of recent environmental changes is the source of the autism epidemic as opposed to evolution being the cause of that epidemic.

  4. I’ve always had that … and always known that the problem is not in being that way, but in the freako controllers deliberately calling it a “disorder.” It’s not a disorder, it’s the simple fact that what passes as normal for people like us is about as exciting as watching rain falling off a roof. “Normal” is for people with no imagination. When I was in grade school, I always had one or two books “under the desk” to read while the teacher droned on explaining the obvious. All my nice new “beginning of school” work books were already read by the first couple of weeks and the rest of the time was putting in time. The thing I liked best about “school” was the smells and the sounds, what other kids wore, and in winter watching the snow drift past the windows and listening to the big pot-bellied “furnace” crackling in the back of the room, not what was purportedly being taught, unless the subject matter proved of some interest to me. The slow pace of public education was excruciating torture, and a terrible waste of life. I never belonged there. ADHD indeed. What a crock! Give us something worth being attentive to and see what happens then! At least in the day “they” didn’t feed kids drugs to dummy them down. I did find my freedom I correspondence courses: no one to watch me while I whipped through the exercises and went on with my life.

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