Sometimes, just to be my own devil’s advocate, I go on line and do searches for articles on education. It’s useful to know what the prevailing theories are if you want to debunk them. What is very interesting is that in every search for education articles you will come upon pages and pages of articles on childhood ‘disorders’ that supposedly hinder a child’s ability to be educated. The articles on how to spot, treat, and deal with the disorders far outweigh articles on actual learning or education, even on so-called ‘education’ websites.
Today I kept seeing references to ‘conduct disorder’. So I Googled ‘childhood conduct disorder’ and was taken to a page that featured, under the heading of ‘Conduct Disorder’, part of a painting by Van Gogh (probably from the potato eaters series, although I’m not positive. It wasn’t identified). The section shown was of a little girl eating what appears to be a tomato, with juice smeared on her cheeks. Interesting. There is no explanation of why this painting was chosen. Is it because they think Van Gogh suffered from conduct disorder? Or because a small girl getting tomato all over her face might be suffering from conduct disorder? Your guess is as good as mine.
What is conduct disorder? This is what I was trying to find out. Well, to put it in layman’s terms, it means repetitive, very bad behavior. (Tomato smearing doesn’t really seem to qualify, in my book. ) Under the section that told you what the disorder was, there was a list of 42 drugs that can be used to treat it.
What causes it? Well, it falls under that convenient, ‘no one knows for sure’ heading. All the usual suspects are marched out: toxins, additives, family environment and last but not least….social anxiety (meaning in school).
Here are my questions: If toxins and additives are causes, why treat them with drugs? (which are also toxins, just a different sort). If family environment is a cause, then how will drugs change that environment? And if social anxiety at school is a cause, then will the drugs change the school, or the student? Obviously the drugs will not take away the toxins, make the home life better or change the school setting. What they will do is deaden the natural responses of a child to discomfort and fear, making them seem like they are ‘better’. Drugs treat the symptoms, not the problem. The problem is almost never the child.
Do you know why I can say this? These disorders are virtually non-existent in homeschooled kids. Toxins and additives are everywhere and difficult to avoid, but family environment and social environment must play a huge role, because when those are good, so are the kids. I know a few parents who had kids in school and who were told they needed to medicate them for ADHD. They said no thanks, took the kids out of school and the ‘disorder’ went away.
It is immensely disturbing that these ‘disorder’ articles are all over the education sites. Drugs and education are now synonymous for lots of kids. I see it as another instance of labeling the non-conformists as ‘troubled’, and when their behavior worsens as a result of that and a lot of other nasty stuff no child should be asked to deal with, they are put on drugs so that everyone around them will be more comfortable. And probably, because the child’s senses have been deadened, they’ll think they are more comfortable too.
The situation is almost criminal. Why can’t we let kids be kids and learn at their own pace? We live in this weird time where children can’t be given recess at school because they are all expected to be intellectual prodigies at the age of 5 (although restricting play time will restrict that goal as well), but we can’t let them walk down the block alone or do anything without constant adult supervision because practically we see them as infants until they hit puberty. And the disorders continue to mount up, and the drug companies rejoice.
And who suffers? The kids…and their education, too.