How ADHD Is Linked To A Failing Education System

If you're not familiar with this guy, this video is a must-see...

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This powerful animation is based on a TED talk by leading education expert Sir Ken Robinson, whose passion and knowledge about his subject matter may forever change your perspective on traditional schooling.

Robinson’s first TED talk was entitled ‘How schools kill creativity’, and is one of the most popular TED talks of all time. He has since given more lectures on how traditional systems of education are failing children around the world, and this fantastic cartoon sketch by RSA Animate does a great job of adding imagery to Robinson’s powerful message on ADHD.

Robinson calls the condition a “fictitious epidemic” and blames the huge rise in ADHD cases on two things: Firstly, what he calls “medical fashion”, and secondly, the huge failure of the education system to keep children interested in what they are learning.

Robinson’s main bugbear is that schools stamp out a child’s ability to think outside the box, not to mention their thirst for knowledge and love of learning. He speaks about how the current system of education was born, and how it bears no relevance whatsoever to the modern world we should be preparing our children for. Like fellow education expert Marty Nemko, Sir Ken believes that “Working hard and getting a college degree is no longer a guarantee of a good career.”

“The problem is, the current system of education was designed, conceived and structured for a different age,” he argues. “It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances of the industrial revolution.” This system, claims Robinson, “Has caused chaos in many people’s lives.”

Robinson believes that ADHD is a by-product of this chaos, pointing out that the condition “has risen in parallel with the growth of standardized testing”. He questions whether the children who are being prescribed Ritalin to calm them down aren’t simply being anesthetized instead, adding that a focus on the arts (being present and fully alive) would be a much better solution to the problem of boredom and fidgeting in class. “Anesthetics shut your senses off and deaden them,” says Robinson. “We shouldn’t be putting [children] to sleep; we should be waking them up.”

Robinson cites a very interesting study which proves beyond a doubt that education is fundamentally at odds with divergent thinking (what you or I may refer to as ‘thinking outside of the box’). While 98% of 1500 kindergarten kids tested performed well at thinking of various ways to use a paperclip, five years later this had dropped to just 50% of the same group tested. It continues to deteriorate as the child goes through the education system.

Robinson makes an excellent case about how group work is a key part of socialization and education, highlighting the fact that traditional schooling teaches our children the very opposite lesson: “They spend years at school being told: ‘There’s one answer, it’s at the back. Don’t look and don’t copy’. Inside school that’s cheating; outside school that’s collaboration.”

In summary, Robinson makes a strong case for a paradigm shift in the way we educate our children. We need to stop assuming that age is the best way to group them. We need to stop focusing on standardized tests, stop drugging them, and focus on individual achievement and ability. And finally, we need to value creativity in the same way we value academia.

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