In a recent episode of the Joe Rogan experience, the comedian-turned-philosopher interviewed expert Andrew Hill about the modern 'problem' of ADHD. Is this a fictitious condition, invented in a cynical attempt to drug our children, or is it a real contemporary phenomena?
Hill points out that while some of us find it easy to focus our attention on one task, others struggle to keep their minds on one thing at a time. Did nature intend it to be this way? Probably. Humans are unique individuals, and we all have different skills which would have been equally important during the evolution of our species. Hunting, for example, requires a very specific focus and the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Foraging for plant food, as Hill points out, does not require the same intense focus, but would have been just as valuable to our ancestors. So why are we so obsessed with molding our children to all be the same?
Being diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) implies a lack of focus. It suggests a child has something wrong with them, but as Rogan points out in this enlightening conversation, many people with ADHD can quite easily sit for hours on end playing video games. Kids with ADHD are often fascinated by certain things, but this focus of attention is not always directed at topics or concepts that our school system would like. Hill agrees that we could even argue that there is an excess of attention with ADHD children.
So what is going on here? Rogan suggests the problem lies in the education system itself, which is boring, abstract, and quite often irrelevant. We are medicating that which makes us unique. Artistic children thrive in just 10% of their classes, while being told they are not good enough for fidgeting during math class. Are class sizes too big to give children the support and attention they need? Are subjects to blame? Should we take a more progressive approach to teaching, as seen by Montessori education and other alternative models?
This is a fascinating discussion for anyone who is interested in ADHD, the worrying modern trend of medicating our children, and alternative models of schooling. Do you have any experiences relating to this discussion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!