“Fixing” ADHD

Love this NYT article (A Natural Fix for ADHD) about ADHD and how it was an evolutionary advantage back in the days of nomadic living. ADHD is NOT an illness — it’s our culture that makes it so.

Interesting theory about the recent “rise” in diagnosis:

I think another social factor that, in part, may be driving the “epidemic” of A.D.H.D. has gone unnoticed: the increasingly stark contrast between the regimented and demanding school environment and the highly stimulating digital world, where young people spend their time outside school. Digital life, with its vivid gaming and exciting social media, is a world of immediate gratification where practically any desire or fantasy can be realized in the blink of an eye. By comparison, school would seem even duller to a novelty-seeking kid living in the early 21st century than in previous decades, and the comparatively boring school environment might accentuate students’ inattentive behavior, making their teachers more likely to see it and driving up the number of diagnoses.

Why are there not so many adult cases? Because adults get to choose their careers. You don’t choose a desk job of routine tasks if you are ADHD. You chose to start a small company or do something stimulating, like an ER doctor or firefighter.

School gives kids so little choice. It forces them to sit still — awful — for far too long during the day. They are fed information, and sit passively in school — no wonder kids with ADHD have trouble. Even kids without ADHD have trouble.

As the article suggests, let’s put kids with ADHD in situations in which they can thrive. And they can. Reinforce the positives of this, take advantage of it. Don’t keep crushing these poor kids by putting the round peg in the square hole!

ENFP

Oh my goodness — I have to post this blog: “25 Struggles Only ENFP’s will Understand” by Heidi Priebe.

I am a confirmed ENFP, very strong on the E and the P for sure. This post cracked me up. I also really appreciate it  because it explains things and maybe will let me feel less guilty!

Take #4:”Having a thousand great ideas that you never follow through on.” That would be me. And then I feel guilty about never finishing anything.

Or #12: “Stressing out friends and acquaintances who don’t like straying from the original plan.” That’s work – I am always more of a “we’ll do what seems right when we get there” rather than setting out solid, unmoving goals. I know people get frustrated with that, but then again, I get frustrated when those solid goals turn out to not be the right ones and there isn’t any flexibility.

At home, I am lucky enough to have a husband who goes with the flow. He’s a saint.

#14: “When you have to complete a task that you simply cannot find a way to make fun.” Yup. Enough said.

#18 – not so true: “Others being surprised that you hold such strong opinions and beliefs, despite your easy-going nature.” I’m pretty loud and outspoken about things I believe in strongly…..

Not sure if this all is ENFP or ADHD. Who cares!

Meaningful Learning

Sam Tanner is another teacher that inspires me. He isn’t a national thought leader – yet – but his head is in the right place. While he actively avoids technology himself and in his classroom, he has the same mindset about education that attracts me to the digital advocates. He is a perfect example that it isn’t the device that makes quality education, it’s the teacher, the philosophy and the pedagogy.

Sam blogs. It is wacky (his word), irreverent and honest. As he prepares to leave public high school teaching for the hallowed halls of higher education (where I’m sure he will continue to challenge the status quo in his own quiet and very meaningful way) I have enjoyed his recent observations on public high schools.

For example:

I proctored an ACT test two weeks ago. Simply put, here is what I think after being a high school teacher for twelve years: building art with high school students is meaningful and testing them isn’t….if what you are advocating limits creative potential, I’m not interested. I’d rather spend my time with people making new, strange things. That is my conception of education, naysayers be damned.

Fortunately for me, my daughter had the opportunity to take a number of classes with him. It’s about all that got her through school. I’m not sure that he fully understand yet what a gift he has been to the students lucky enough to work with him.

Doors Slamming Shut

Once again, Will Richardson’s blog inspires me. Well, it makes me mad – not at him, but again, at the public school system.

I’ve been saying for years that if you’re in education and you’re not feeling uncomfortable right now, you’re not paying attention. Our collective discomfort with the system should be growing. And the window for action is closing pretty quickly.

I have been uncomfortable with education for many years. Like Mr Richardson, I have two teenagers about to head out into the world. One graduates from high school in a matter of days. The window for her in K-12 is closed. It slammed shut a couple of years ago, although in retrospect, it had been slowly closing since entering public school. (It is one of my biggest regrets that we kept her in this school and didn’t move her. We first seriously considered moving her in 3rd grade. Oh, how I wish we had.)

The damage – and it is significant – has been done. Because she doesn’t learn in a way that fits the traditional mold, the message has been pretty loud and clear that she doesn’t measure up. I, however, see her as a creative, insightful person who has tremendous gifts. I can only hope her next stage of life rewards this instead of snuffing it out.

Teachers as Learners, not Teachers

Will Richardson is one of my favorite thought leaders in the education world. He has a new book out, which I will have to purchase and read. (“From Master Teacher to Master Learner.”)

Quick quote from his new book, as previewed on his blog:

Teachers must move their own practice in transformative ways toward a focus on learning, not knowing. That’s not to say that the need for knowing isn’t still important. (Though there’s a strong argument that there’s way too much curriculum to know.) But it does suggest that to best help our students become powerful learners in the modern world, they need teachers who are master learners as well.

Grade Level

Recent Huff Post article by Dan Peters, “Smart Shaming: Sorry but Your Child is Too Bright to Qualify for Help” hit home.

I get the limited amount of money, I really do. I also get that there are kids who need services “more” than others.

The real issue for us wasn’t so much the “services.” We were able to get a 504 with accommodations. We weren’t asking for anything that cost money or took any staff time. The problem was the pedagogy, assessment and expectations.

Most of the struggles came from doing tasks that will not be needed elsewhere: memorizing facts and spitting them back on tests, writing structured 5 paragraph essays and doing detailed math problems. There was little struggle in class discussion, creative projects or similar assignments.

Yet, the cumulative effect of failure or poor performance on the “essential” elements of how schools measure kids had a significant impact. She shut down. Motivation was gone. You can beat someone down for so long. That in itself is a disability and hurdle to overcome, along with everything else.