Public-school teaching is structured in such a way that it inevitably bores millions of normal, active children who are forced to sit in classrooms six to eight hours a day with about twenty other immature children. The teacher has to cover the curriculum, so she is pressured to teach all the kids the same material in the same way. Few teachers have the time or patience to know each child's unique personality, interests, strengths, or weaknesses, or give different instruction to each student.
Middle-school and high-school children often have to learn subjects they can't relate to, are not interested in, or that frustrate them, such as history, trigonometry, or foreign languages. As a result, many students get bored, watch the clock, and wait for the school day to end.
Classroom "learning" usually consists of forcing students to read dumbed-down textbooks, memorizing facts from these textbooks, and then regurgitating these meaningless facts on dumbed-down tests. Students go from gym to math, to chemistry, to English literature, to American history. Their day consists of disconnected lectures on disconnected subjects. Each class lasts only fifty minutes, so their train of thought breaks off at the sound of the bell.
Young children in elementary school have natural high energy, and each child has his or her own unique personality. Most teachers simply don't have the time or patience to teach different material or use different teaching methods with each child. Just being cramped into a classroom with twenty-five other children and told to learn certain tasks by an adult they may not like, can annoy or frustrate many normal but emotionally immature children with a will of their own.
Overworked teachers are under a lot of pressure today. They must teach many students in their classes, cover the curriculum, test and grade the students, and prove to parents and the principal that their students are learning and doing well in their studies. Even worse, a teacher's job may now be threatened or she could be disciplined if her students do poorly on the new standardized tests The No Child Left Behind Act puts pressure on teachers and principals to make sure students pass these tests because the school can lose funding or even close down if students' test grades don't measure up to minimum standards.
For all these reasons, over-worked teachers are under enormous pressure to maintain discipline in class so they can do their job. If some students are disruptive, don't pay attention, or cause trouble in class, the teacher must do something about these children to keep order. In the old days, teachers could discipline kids by smacking or restraining them. If a teacher tried this today, parents would quickly slap her and the school with a lawsuit, so that kind of discipline is now impossible. Also, as we mentioned earlier, compulsory-attendance laws now make it extremely difficult to expel a violent or disruptive student.
So how do school authorities solve this discipline problem? Too often, they pressure parents to give Ritalin (or similar drugs) to "calm" children down or make them "focus" on their work. However, school authorities needed a way to justify using these mind-altering drugs on children. They found this "justification" by going along with the psychiatric establishment's claim that millions of normal, active, or bored kids who might be having temporary medical, emotional, or other stress problems at home or in class, have an alleged mental illness called ADHD.
By claiming that normal but disruptive children have a mental illness, school authorities feel justified in giving kids mind-altering drugs to "correct" the problem. Indeed, many well-intentioned teachers and principals have come to believe the ADHD rhetoric so strongly, that they sincerely believe they are helping children they think have ADHD.
Well-intentioned or not, schools also get many important benefits by taking the easy way out with Ritalin. School districts today are strapped for money because many States are running huge budget deficits. Schools can't spend the time, money, or effort it takes to find out what makes problem kids act out. They don't have the resources to give these children intensive, time-consuming psychological counseling, or test them for all the real medical conditions that might be causing the problem. So pressuring parents to give Ritalin to their normal but "unruly" kids to "quiet" them became the typical American quick-fix for solving complex problems.
Parents, don't let public schools pressure you into giving your children potentially dangerous mind-altering drugs. It is far more likely that your public school has PSTD (public school teaching disorder) than your normal child has an alleged disease called ADHD. Consider taking your children out of public school and homeschooling them.
Joel Turtel is the author of "Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children."
Article Copyrighted ? 2005 by Joel Turtel.
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