Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What if kids were to do real things?

At the present time, 20% of high school age boys in the US have been assigned the diagnosis ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to this article in the New York Times. It is so much easier to prescribe medications, than to direct children into activities that interest them and build their capacities to pay attention. Put a hyperactive kid at a lathe, or allow him or her to build something with hammers and saws, and you will witness the child building his or her own capacity to pay attention.

One thing that educational policy makers ought to know is that the skill of paying attention is one that must be learned and practiced. It begins with interest, and grows from application. Any craftsman having cut or sawn to a line scribed on wood, metal or cloth will tell you that their own efforts to pay attention came to greater success through practice. Any one who has played instrumental music will tell you that their attention to the timing and precision of their part, came through practice.

Educational policy makers have stripped education of its natural interests, divorced it from the child's most natural inclinations, and thence treated attention as being something that kids either have or not have rather than a skill to be learned. When lacking  it they give pills rather than considering that their scheme of learning might be so far off base.

It is most surprising that parents buy into that scheme and allow their children to be medicated and controlled in such a manner instead of insisting that schooling be made to utilize the child's natural propensity to learn. Children are hard wired to learn, and our educational institutions have made learning a matter of stupidity.

If children were given the opportunity to make useful beauty in schooling, we would find schools to be a thing that interested them and allowed them to sharpen their skills of attention.

Today, my first grade students will be carving feathers, my 4th grade students will be making bird feeders and my upper level students will be working with sketchup.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous9:26 AM

    I don't know how it works now in USA. When I was a child, there was a 20' or 30' break around 10h00 where children were runing and playing. There was a full 2 hours break at lunch time. And I was playing in the garden in the late afternoon before doing housework.
    I am afraid that now the children have no break because they play with their smartphones. That may be part of the explanation.
    In my Country, the practice of medecine is subject to the law : "loi sur l'art de guerir". Although medecine is as much as possible based on science, it is not strictly a science and this is recognised in the wording of the law.
    Unfortunately it also seems subject to fashions; especially in the psychiatric domain.

  2. Anonymous5:55 PM

    I teach "lower level" junior and senior high school science students. Most have been beaten down for their entire school careers. Many have been "diagnosed" as having ADHD. Read the chapter, answer the questions in the back of the chapter does not work. I have to put science in their hands for any learning to occur.
    Dave K