‘They don’t know how to study’

From a professor of accounting who wishes to remain nameless:

We have very few male accounting majors any more because the boys in public school are generally not taught the self-discipline necessary to study difficult material. They are given meds, and not made to behave, concentrate or study. When they get to college they don’t know how to study or even why it is important. The number of female accounting majors,  like females in med school, is rising dramatically.

. . . As for us, we have a serious overemphasis on student evaluations so that if we try to make them work, achieve a higher level necessary to become competent in their major, they give us bad evaluations (evaluations are typically tied to grades and who has the least amount of work for the highest grade). Since we cannot lose our jobs, we end up at university also letting them slide. They pitch screaming fits if you try to make them work, running to administrators who, like those in K-12, side with the student/parent against the faculty member.

Two of the major qualifying exams in accounting, the CPA and CMA, have just dumbed down their tests. The kids can’t pass them anymore. They are not motivated to learn what it takes. What happens when the med/law/engineering schools have to do this?

You’d think tenure would make it possible for professors to stand up to their students, but I guess the squeaky wheel gets the A. It’s gotten worse in the last 12 to 15 years, says the prof, who’s been teaching for 20 years.

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  1. Mad Scientist says:

    Why am I not surprised? Just wait until these people are out in the workforce.

    Imagine their faces when their employers demand performance because that’s what we are paying you for.

    I, for one, would love to see the reaction.

  2. I guess we can just outsource the accounting to offshore people…also the engineering and pharmaceutical research. Airline pilots will have to be hired from among recent immigrants. Graduates of the American public schools…at least the male graduates, if the prof is right…will need to get jobs that done require sustained effort or concentration.

    Anyone have any ideas as to what those jobs might be?

  3. I recently taught 10th grade world history for three weeks as part of an emergency credential program. My mentor teacher warned me that my “honors” class would probably be like the regular class I took when I was in high school, and the “regular” class would in fact be remedial. He was, if anything, too kind.

    By far the biggest problem I had was students who had no self-discipline, no study habits, and no understanding of, much less belief in, deferred gratification. Many, indeed most, simply refused to do homework.

    I had to teach them that when they came to class they should have a notebook, open it, and then take notes. To many it was a foreign concept. Many refused.

    I tried. I really did. Perhaps that is why they applauded when I announced that my next day would be my last.

    Interestingly, the young men and women in the AP European History class (which I didn’t get to teach) appeared to be equally capable and productive. They were as sharp a group of kids as I’ve ever seen. In contrast, in the regular and “honors” classes I taught some of the young women were very sharp and responded to being challenged intellectually, whereas the young men were not and did not.

    Finally, I recall one of the female teachers in the lunch room telling a story about her class. One of the young women told her male classmates, “Don’t be stupid.”

    ______________________________________________________ Is there any escape? Drinkers Purgatory

  4. Sounds like your accounting professor should talk to this one.

    I have to second the importance of evaluations. I won’t go into the details (it might start another flame war), but I had a friend who was fired because she was teaching a notoriously difficult group of students who were horrible to her in class (she left in tears once) and left nasty evaluations. While the evaluations are private, some students went so far as to post them on one of those “teacher evaluation” sites, so I could read about how horrified they were that they were expected to remember anything from high school. One brave student posted about how ashamed she was of how her classmates acted. I have one more class to teach here before I graduate, and I pray I don’t get that one.

  5. He did mention they now often “medicate” the boys. Ritalin anyone? What ever became of paddling that seemed to put these poor ADHA back to work in yesteryears?

  6. Maybe medication isn’t the way to solve the root cause of attention-deficit disorders. In my family, to make the children attentive I try to pay attention to them and demand that they do the same for me. Patience is required on both ends, but the benefits will be there.

    As my wife and I were adopting our daughter, we were told that she was probably ADHD. Of course, my wife said, she hasn’t had anyone pay her any attention. Somehow, that seemed to be the case.

    The behaviors that get boys (and it’s almost always boys) put on meds are not abnormal. What is abnormal is to give a drug to children and expect them to behave, then expect a modified mind to magically mature. Boys (generally boys) don’t get the free time they used to. There’s a need to run and jump and move around that is generally stifled by schools and their desire to stress academics at the expense of reality (take away physical education, make lunch a fifteen minute exercise, disallow “violent” play for stupid reasons, etc.)

    Is it too much to ask that parents raise children to be respectful of teachers? And for teachers (and administrators) to respect the needs of children? Don’t bother, I know the answer.

  7. Mad Scientist says:

    It is amazing how much attention one will pay when one is smacked up-side the head for “acting out”.

    And how much of this “attention defecit” is brought on by the constant attention to video games, MTV, and a general lack of discipline?

    I saw a kid (probably about 6) in a restaurant on Saturday playing with a gameboy. When I was a kid dinner was for eating, not playing games.

  8. Mad Scientist says:

    Also, how can it be that the little bastards can concentrate intently when playing a game but when faced with work, they can’t keep focus for more than 5 minutes (if you’re lucky)?

    That strikes me as a disorder of their parents.

  9. Actually, it’s only been in the last generation of kids that this has really become a problem with a huge gap in achievement between males and females in education.

    By the time a male graduates from high school (if he even graduates), he is at least 1 to 2 grade levels behind in reading and math skills compared to females, so in college they already have face a handicap. The situation isn’t any better when women are starting to outperform men across the board in college (women outnumber men on college campuses, earn more degrees in every field except computer science, engineering, and certain science fields), more women are in medical school and law school then men, and as a whole do better than males.

    In my days of high school 1978-1981, there wasn’t much of a problem with getting kids to study (male or female), but a few years down the road, some students (mostly males) decided it was cool to cut class (a lot), get ****ed up on booze, and drugs, act like the class fool when they did show up to class, not bother to do homework, etc), which has lead us to where we are today.

    Women are going to be a dominant force in the future, and those students who don’t want to learn in the classroom (again, mostly male) are going to find themselves shut out of the opportunities that will be open to well educated women.

  10. Bob Diethrich says:

    1. Any surprise that over 73% of the PhDs awarded in the hard sciences in this country go to foreigners (as of about 1999 when I saw this stat somewhere)

    2. Next step is for ADD, ADD/HD and the rest of the alphabet soup to be covered under the “Americans with Disabilities Act” so we will then have no way to fire the incompetant accountants we are producing.

  11. I’ve seen my share of lax parenting and discipline over the years, but I’ve gotta speak to the whole meds issue.

    For the most part, less than 2% of the kids at my school are on medication. I’ve seen boys (and rarely, girls) genuinely transformed by the use of ritalin, concerta, et al. Many kids feel better about themselves after taking it because, for the first time ever, they can focus. It makes the kid feel normal, as if their radar has finally tuned in.

    ADD medicine can make a huge difference in a kid’s life, but it shouldn’t be used frivolously or to “fix” normal kid fidgets.

  12. SuzieQ’s point is well taken. In my experience, drugs should be taken only after other attempts at behavior modification are made. If mind-altering medications are to be given to developing minds, that is something that should be done with great caution. I guess I’m a bit of a luddite as far as my children’s brains go, but I know others don’t have the time my wife and I have to parent. And I don’t have the children of others.

  13. Nantoling says:

    Those of you who have read Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat” may recall his take on the smacking-upside-the-head issue:

    In the present instance, going back to the liver-pill circular, I had the symptoms, beyond all mistake, the chief among them being “a general disinclination to work of any kind.”

    What I suffer in that way no tongue can tell. From my earliest infancy I have been a martyr to it. As a boy, the disease hardly ever left me for a day. They did not know, then, that it was my liver. Medical science was in a far less advanced state than now, and they used to put it down to laziness.

    “Why, you skulking little devil, you,” they would say, “get up and do something for your living, can’t you?” – not knowing, of course, that I was ill.

    And they didn’t give me pills; they gave me clumps on the side of the head. And, strange as it may appear, those clumps on the head often cured me – for the time being. I have known one clump on the head have more effect upon my liver, and make me feel more anxious to go straight away then and there, and do what was wanted to be done, without further loss of time, than a whole box of pills does now.

    You know, it often is so – those simple, old-fashioned remedies are sometimes more efficacious than all the dispensary stuff.

  14. Steve LaBonne says:

    I have considerable contempt for people like this anonymous professor. He teaches accounting, but couldn’t make an honest living as an accountant outside academia?? How then can he actually be qualified to teach accounting?

    My response to the syndrome he describes was to get out of academia. Why would I want a job that I’m not allowed to do properly?

  15. “For the most part, less than 2% of the kids at my school are on medication. I’ve seen boys (and rarely, girls) genuinely transformed by the use of ritalin, concerta, et al. Many kids feel better about themselves after taking it because, for the first time ever, they can focus. It makes the kid feel normal, as if their radar has finally tuned in.”

    That’s the frustrating thing. How do you tell the difference between a kid (or an adult, even) with bad habits and an actual problem?

    Ritalin, though, is a stimulant; it won’t even “calm down” normal people, will it? And the new stuff (Straterra), does it have any effect on normal people, or what?

    Seems to me that, all along, there were a number of people that failed through constant daydreaming, not paying attention, and so on. If such people succeed instead, it seems we all come out ahead.

    Actually, putting such people on meds takes away their crutch; they no longer have an excuse for poor performance. Or at least as poor as it was previously.

  16. Steve…why do you assume that he “couldn’t make an honest living” outside of academia? I don’t see that anywhere in the post.

  17. Steve LaBonne says:

    I would hope that as an accountant he _can_ make a living in the “real world”, so the point is,why is is so fixated on keeping his teaching job, even though he openly admits that he no longer does it in what he knows is the right way? He should stop whining and either stand up and fight for his principles, or get out and earn an honest living. Cowards like him are part of the problem in academia, not part of the solution. I might have some sympathy for cravenness in an Engish or sociology professor who might actually starve if booted out, but I have none for a professor of accounting.

  18. This is a symptom of a much larger problem, namely the fact that intellectualism is no longer seen as “manly” and that doing well in school is considered a “girl” thing.

    Why? Things like competitiveness, the pursuit of excellence, an emphasis on phonics and the absorption of facts, make for effective learning for all students, but are especially helpful for males. But these things are “un-PC,” so they’ve gotta go.

    At the same time, the current youth culture disdains education, delayed gratification and hard work The thug, the pimp and the bad boy are cast as role models who get the money, the women and the respect. Why study English, math and history to end up as a “sellout” or a “wimp” when you can be a “big money hustler?”

    While we’re on the subject, I also can’t help but think that many girls are “studying for two” a la Murphy Brown, as the guys that they might hook up with are a sorry lot of gangstas and metrosexuals and can’t be counted on to be good providers and protecters.

    Either way, this problem didn’t happen overnight and won’t be solved overnight either. Not to mention the fact that any real solutions will upset quite a few people in the PC Posse.

  19. JimInNOVA says:

    The Simpsons had it right: Let the dumbening begin.

    Maybe this is why my last 4 bosses have been female.

  20. I also wonder if the problem may be more fundemental, or at least earlier, than adolescent discipline — i.e, the problem of “Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children ” (see also “Short attention span linked to TV“; “TV, ADHD and Doing Useful Things“).
    ______________________________________________________ Is there any escape? Drinkers Purgatory

  21. This complaint about the younger generation is as old as time. Read Charles Dickens and you will find the same complaints. I think today’s children are very intelligent and hard working. I am putting my faith in them to help straighten out the mess the baby boomers have made of this country.

  22. I think that Steve is a little hard on the nameless professor of accounting. As a professor of chemistry I see that student evaluations are being used as a measure of teaching effectiveness. I don’t think that there is any correlation between these evaluations and amount of student learning. Also, even with tenure the sensitivity towards student evaluations is always there. Pay raises and promotions are based on these evaluations. Our nameless accounting prof MAY be able to get out of academia, but at some point say age 50+ it does become more difficult to get back into the private sector.

    In the sciences the lack of good study habits is a growing problem in lower division courses. I find that this is not an issue in chemistry courses in the junior and senior years. As for this generation versus previous ones, I would guess that they are all pretty much the same in terms of scholastic preparation for college. I think the differences are the use of student evaluations of teaching and the consumerist attitudes of both the students and their boomer parents.

    I find that the female:male ratio is also growing in chemistry and that women are the better classroom students. However in a research lab setting where there is less structure, more freedom, and improvisation, male students do quite well. I haven’t decided whether this is nature or nurture issue, but male students like to take more chances.

  23. I have a high percentage of children on stimulants because of the nature of the classes I happen to teach. I see the spectrum: kids not on medication who really need it to function, kids appropriately medicated and supported, kids who are trying to handle their ADHD without medication and are using good strategies, kids who are on medication because their family life isn’t together enough to find good strategies, and kids whose parents want them medicated because they’re just twits. It’s a hugely complex issue. FWIW, I have a number of girls who are ADD (not hyper — they have the daydreaming variation).

    I find the spectrum of responses to the issue interesting. Some boys do well in unstructured environments. I find my ADD/ADHD kids need a lot of structure to thrive. They do need to get up and move during the hour, but it has to be very controlled. They tend to do poorly in classes where they have a lot of freedom in how how they get their work done (they won’t do any). Girls and very academically oriented boys seem to thrive in environments with a lot of choice.

  24. My former boss has a son who is ADHD. He always has gotten lots of attention. To get him to focus and behave, they tried everything including spanking him until they were afraid to spank him any more. After two psychologists independently assessed him and said he was classic ADHD and required medication, they gave up and medicated him. Then they were kicking themselves for putting it off so long. It’s a myth that kids with ADHD don’t have parents who care or who discipline. Some probably don’t. Some kids without ADHD probably don’t.

  25. Mad Scientist says:

    Laura, you cite one anectodal case. I believe the vast majority of so-called ADHD cases are simply taking an easy way out.

    Why can a lot of these kids focus on video games and not schoolwork?

    Now we have ads for medication to combat adult ADHD. When does it end?

  26. That’s a good question, Mad. I suppose one would answer it by trying to figure out the differences in stimulation values between a video game and a typical classroom. Wonder if there’s a study?

  27. “Laura, you cite one anectodal case. I believe the vast majority of so-called ADHD cases are simply taking an easy way out.”

    And what easy way out would that be? You’re assuming that ADHD medication has a positive effect on people who don’t have ADHD. I don’t see any reason to believe that a stimulant such as Ritalin will make a normal person calm down, sit down, and shut up.

    Or are you saying that a person that does have ADHD should just suck it up and deal with it instead of taking medicine like a girly-man? Would you say the same to someone who was having trouble concentrating because of a headache or a toothache? Or would you advice that such a person get treated?

    “Now we have ads for medication to combat adult ADHD.”

    Damn right. Why shouldn’t we? Adults, especially ones that have children depending on them, should do whatever it takes to get the job done.

  28. Mad Scientist says:



    See if some “sucking it up” corrects the problem. If there is a real medical need, then prescribe the drugs.

    Once ADHD is diagnosed, then a whole new dynamic kicks in. Like special accomodations on tests like the SAT. These special accomodations have the effect of unleveling the playing field. Those who apply themselves and work hard are now at a disadvantage.

    And if someone who was working for me couldn’t focus on the task at hand, they’d be looking for other employment.

  29. Steve LaBonne says:

    Frank, maybe my experience leads me to be a bit hard on him. But it’s going to take me a long time to forget the lack of effective support I got on this issue from senior colleagues (who privately agreed with me)when I was an assistant professor (at a liberal arts college, where evaluation-mania is much worse.) If tenured faculty who understand the problem are too coopted by the system to stick their necks out and tackle the academic deterioration caused by the keep-the-students-happy-at-all-costs mentality, then what hope is there? Administrators, those professional panderers, certainly aren’t going to do it.

  30. Are Asians immune to ADHD??

  31. “Once ADHD is diagnosed, then a whole new dynamic kicks in. Like special accomodations on tests like the SAT.”

    That’s nuts. The whole point of diagnosing, and medicating, the condition is to enable the person to actually stay on task and perform well, not to trigger everyone else to lower the standards and pretend he’s performing well.

    It does suggest that such a person should be medicated secretly, assuming such a thing is possible. And assuming you have some way of preventing your medicated student from tipping off the teachers or the fine folks at the ETS and getting special treatment from then on.

    It sucks that someone who could use the treatment has to do without just so they’ll be held to an adequate standard. Fortunately, if they can get through school, they can start treatment as adults and no one has to be the wiser.

    “And if someone who was working for me couldn’t focus on the task at hand, they’d be looking for other employment.”

    What if he could with the aid of ADD meds? Again, that’s the whole point of treatment. (Actually, if he had any sense at all, he wouldn’t even tell you about the meds…)

  32. Mad Scientist says:

    Seriously, I would not want someone who has a psychological addiction to any drug working for me.

  33. “I believe the vast majority of so-called ADHD cases are simply taking an easy way out.” All right, Mr. Scientist, what data do you base your belief on? Or is it just straight ideology?

  34. Mad Scientist says:

    My statement is a belief. Until you can show me where a belief needs data to back it up, I think I’ll pass.

    I still have not seen any rebuttal to the assertion that these people suffering from this so-called “disorder” have any deficit of attention when doing things thay want to do (like playing video games, watching TV, or listening to really obnoxious music).

    When it controlls all aspects of their lives, then maybe there really is a problem.

  35. Tim from Texas says:

    When I read that kids do this and kids do that and kids can’t do this and kids can’t do that,it makes me puke. The kids are doing exactly as we want and exactly as they are allowed to do. Our society bombards them constantly and makes a fortune from it. Boys are especially vunerable to it. The adults should consider themselves lucky ,kids,especially the boys,haven’t done much worse, academically,violently and you name it. The “kids” know they are being screwed and they haven’t any power other than to try to make adults’ lives miserable, and things will get much worse if the “adults” don’t wise up.

    “Kids” want real adult guidance and real adult leadership. We as adults must put our house in order first, before expecting order from the “kids”. For example, we allow them to have the money and every opportunity to watch tv and go to the movies and at the tv or at the movies allow them to be bombarded with all that has great influence on the the way they behave. Then, we as adults, complain that tv and movies have a bad influence on our “kids”. Then the media reps.tell us that tv and movies really don’thavethat powerful an influence and then cut to six minutesof commercials directed mainly at the “kids”. There are many other examples of like logic that we as “adults” allow. This I think could be called “AADD”—“Adult Attention Deficit Disorder”.

    And by the way, just as an aside, I have attended and I have given many inservices in education and in business wher the attention span of the adults,young, middle aged, and old was, shall I say, terrible.

    Hopefully, without sounding arrogant, for I am far from being flawless, I would like to end by saying this. We are the adults. If we want our house to have order, we must give it order.

  36. Tim from Texas says:

    By the way, have we all forgotten the example of the ancient knowledge in “monkey see monkey do”?

  37. Tim from Texas says:

    And as for the universities and the professors, well, they certainly take the terrible students’ money in the form of tuition and very expensive textbooks. It doesn’t bother them that this is how their jobs and tenure is maintained. If they must have better students, then they could demand it, but alas, that would cancel out many professor slots at every university. Thus, they too are making their share from the “kids”. The university education isn’t the only avenue to success and professors et al know it, but I don’t hear anything about it from them. The universities and the K-12 educators have been pushing the message that college is “the” way to success and now we denigrate the student who heard that message loud and clear.

  38. There have been reports of some kids that had been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, where it was subsequently found that the problem was dietary. Take them off the junk food and sugar, and they settle down.

    There are also other legitimate cases where symptoms resembling ADD/ADHD can be attributed to other causes.

    First example, my cousin developed symptoms of, and was diagnosed with, ADD after a car accident at 17 where she sustained head injuries. She went from an A student who never had to study to someone who is now taking college remedial math for the third time because she can’t seem to grasp the concepts; she also had some observable changes in personality, from outgoing to shy and introverted. In this case it was due to organic injury, which is still somewhat visible via MRI. She needs Ritalin to function on a daily basis; it was the fourth med she tried and finally seemed to help her get back to a normal life.

    Second case, myself. I began developing symptoms of ADD after my daughter was born. Long story short, but 2 years and 7 doctors later, I finally got diagnosed with hypothyroidism/thyroid resistance. Take my daily thyroid hormone meds (a naturally-occurring human hormone, just one that my body doesn’t have enough of), and I’m a normal human being again (alright, no sarcasm, please), holding down a demanding global job in a Fortune 100 company, where previously I couldn’t concentrate enough to balance my checkbook even with a calculator.

    Sometimes it may actually be a physical cause. But my worry is that, since ADD is a ‘disorder’ based mostly on either eliminating other causes or trial-and-error meds, then in some cases surely there are misdiagnoses. As Mad noted, diagnosing ADD/ADHD has become the illness du jour in some areas, and it’s an easy out for lazy or harried school and medical personnel.

    Second case

  39. The Mad Scientist has a “belief” based on no scientific evidence whatsoever, but we can’t question it because that’s his “belief.” Fascinating. ADD/ADHD is all just a bunch of slackers trying to get ahead via illicit means.

    Those who work hard and apply themselves are not at a disadvantage. They are doing fine and always will do fine. Mad, I hate to say it, but you remind me of this one freshman I have. He is academically talented, talented in sports, comes from a wealthy family, has involved parents — in other words, he has every advantage in the world and has never known a moment of hardship. He’s be a great kid except he has an enormous chip on his shoulder. Let another kid in the class get some privilege he doesn’t have — maybe they got to go the bathroom and he didn’t for some reason — and it’s a huge miscarriage of justice. He runs down anything I do for another student that I don’t do for him. Now, this student doesn’t need me to do anything special for him to have an A in my class. But Heaven Forbid I spend extra time explaining a concept to a struggling student. Or give an extended deadline to that kid whose house burned down over the weekend (true story).

    I think this kid is making his own life miserable because there is no actual misery in his life. Why are you so resentful? Your life sounds great. You have a smart wife, a great job, you make huge amounts of money. What do you have against some kid who needs to take Ritalin to make it through a day of high school?

  40. You may have nailed it, Rita.

    On the other hand, some folks are only happy when they are in Full Disapproval Mode. If only everybody were as wonderful as they are.

  41. Mad Scientist says:

    Me, resentful? I do not think so. Perhaps belief was too strong a word; suspicion would have been better.

    If you got the impression that I believe that “ADD/ADHD is all just a bunch of slackers trying to get ahead via illicit means”, then you are mistaken. I believe that some parents are too willing to chalk behavior problems up to the “Disorder du Jour” and fix the problem with a magic pill. This is simply treating the symptoms and is not nearly as effective as doing a little investigation and determining the root cause.

    I have seen too much of the type of behavior you describe of your privilged student. Some of the younger people at work believe the company is there to give them a well-paying job, but just don’t ask them to do anything. Some of the older ones do nothing but bitch about how they could run the company better than management.

    We basically handle the whiners by acknowledging that “It must really suck to be you”. That’s not to say real tragedy does not exist; there are plenty of reasons to cut some people some slack and you name a few of them. I have no problem with that.

    But for people who use up all their vacation and sick leave before then end of February, and then bitch about being written up because they needed some extra time off, well I (and the company) have got no pity for that.

    Take this (also true) example of what my sister, who is teaching a Freshman writing course at a local 4-year college has had to put up with.

    She had given her class a research paper to write, with a lot of prework, annotated bibliography, planning exercises, draft (for comments on what to work on), etc. One student kept expanding his topic although she told him numerous times to narrow it. He did not follow the correct form for the bibliography and was surprised that “You mean I lost points because I didn’t do it right?”. Finally, he goes to the writing center convinced his writing was above reproach.

    He called her at 9:00 PM the Saturday before the paper was due, whining that the writing center told him his work was utter crap. What could she do to help him? She basically told him to pull all-nighters until he turned in the paper.

    This is a case where the kid in question screwed himself, and he was in denial that someone actually called him on it. Too harsh? I don’t think so. Neither did the Director of the writing program.

    As to your question: “What do you have against some kid who needs to take Ritalin to make it through a day of high school?”, I would just ask you to substitute “marajuana” or “booze” for “Ritalin” and see how lame that argument is. As I said, if there is a true medical need, then fine. But drugs seem to be the first choice, not a last resort.

    I still am waiting as to how one expalins the ability to focus on stuff they want to do. That question seems to be lost on you all.

  42. Mad, I told you to look for some research. It is out there, you know. The reason they can concentrate on things like video games and sports is that these activities are highly stimulating — and what their brain craves is stimulation. Sitting in a classroom listening to my lecture or class discussion is not highly stimulating (in the same sense — I’m a fabulously mesmerizing teacher, of course). That’s how Ritalin and the other stimulants work; they artificially provide that stimulation so that the student doesn’t feel like he or she has to move/change focus all the time to feel right.

    Naturally, these kids tend to be attracted to activities that make them feel right. If sitting and reading a book is hard work for them, are they going to enjoy it? Probably not. If soccer makes them feel right, do you think they’re going to spend more time playing soccer? Do YOU choose activities that bore you out of your skull or make you feel antsy? I sure don’t.

    This is not to say that these children should be playing soccer and video games all day, but it does explain what you have observed.

    I don’t have the cites (all my studies, etc. are in a filing cabinet at school), but that’s a quick explanation of how it works.

    And, yes, other things can mimic ADHD/ADD. Parenting style is one of them. I have a student right now who is classically in that category. Please note that I — the evil educational establishment — have not run out to get him diagnosed with ADD and put on meds. I just have him after school with me doing his homework. But just because I can talk about this one case, doesn’t mean I don’t have yet other students who are truly ADD/ADHD.

    I do question your assumption that drugs are the *first* resort. That’s not my observation in most cases.

    BTW, a lot of kids who seem to “need” the pot or alcohol to get through the day are essentially self medicating in the absense of something they need. Again, not that they should be abusing substances.

    As far as your sister’s experience goes, I empathize. I go through that all the time. Just part of the job.

  43. Mad Scientist says:

    And I say that since the stimulation overload is a trained behavior, then it can be untrained. Without drugs.

    Meditation to clear a mind is hard work. It requires focus and needs mental discipline. Better we should be teaching people that instead of prescribing drugs that substitute the stimulation of constant activity with the stimulant of medication. You are allowing them to substitute one crutch for another.

    Now try that same substitution (pot or booze for Ritilan) and apply it to your workplace. I don’t know about you, but I could get fired for either.

    Typically I do not chose activities that bore me out of my skull (I assign them to others – note sarcasm). But if I have to do them, I do them. In my job, that’s what I am paid to do. Around the house, I do it because I do not want to live in a dump. It is a choice.

    Teach them the discipline to choose wisely.

  44. “…the stimulation overload is a trained behavior…”

    I don’t think that’s proven in every case. In some cases I’m pretty sure it’s not. My former boss whom I anecdotally mentioned has two sons. The older is a very organized, focussed high-achiever. The two boys grew up in the same house with the same two parents. It’s not possible that the younger son had a sufficiently overstimulating environment to cause ADHD without the older one being affected at all.

    As for parents being too quick to medicate – I know that happens, I’ve seen it too – there probably are parents whose kids desparately need help with their ADHD and their parents either insist that they pull their socks up somehow without it or can’t be bothered to do what it takes to treat their problem.

  45. that’s *desperately*

    BTW, this same anecdotal child takes his ritalin every day, including weekends; he begged his mother to let him, because he couldn’t do anything that required prolonged concentration, i.e., put together a model airplane.

  46. Just a tentative theory…but maybe the kind of concentration needed to play a videogame is very different from the kind of concentration needed to solve an algebra problem *or* put together a model airplane. The videogame pulls you along, whereas the algebra problem and the model airplane need you to push them.

  47. Tim from Texas says:

    Ritalin is a sophisticated form of speed. It is a stimulant-drug not a medicine, therefore, every measure should be taken to try to resolve the childs’ problems of short attention span,”hyper-activity”,and general unrulyness before any such drug is given to a child. All avenues and all ideas other than drugs should be given a very good chance to succeed first. Again, I repeat, Ritalin is speed.

    I must suggest here again that most of what is now called ADD or ADHD is caused in the majority of children,and adults for that matter, by sleep deprivation. When sleep deprived, the child requires constant stimulation and instant gratification. Sleep deprivation,in addition, makes it difficult for the child to ever complete a task and this begins a never ending cycle of dissatisfaction with any task that takes time and effort to get from point A to point B. This affects boys the most and anyone older than 25 shoudn’t need an explanation why here.

    Also, there is plenty of research out there which shows this to be true. It is not easy to find and it won’t be shown to you and won’t be presented to you as such a simple remedy, for constant stimulation and instant gratification is the backbone of huge profits made by providing constant stimulation and instant gratification. Moreover, sleep deprivation and what it causes is old knowledge. This very old knowledge can be found in many different kinds of writings and books. It can be found in the encyclopaedias as well.

    However, research it if you must, but even that isn’t necessary. Do this. First keep in mind that Ritalin is speed. Then ask yourself this question. “Why does a stimulant like speed help someone who is hyper, who has a hard time paying attention, who has difficulty keeping to task,who must have constant stimulation and constant gratification?

    Why, of course, there are anecdotes that will show exceptions to sleep deprivation being the cause of the “ADD/ADHD” malady,just as there are anecdotes which can be used to show many exceptions to a many a thing or idea. One could say that you could throw a dime up into the air and it would never land on its edge and stay upright. It has happened and it will happen again. But the question is: What happens most of the time?

  48. What’s the difference between a medication and a drug?

  49. Mad Scientist says:

    In reality, nothing. Semantically, medications are perscribed for a medical condition, drugs are illicit.

  50. Mad, you say ADD/ADHD is a trained behavior or you have read the research and made a conclusion based on that research?

  51. Mad Scientist says:

    The fact remains that the “disorder” is primarily a lack of focus. People can be trained to do a number of things without medication to improve their ability to focus, such as:

    Concentration Exercises

    Lack of focus is a sign of poor mental discipline.

    As has been pointed out, these people have no problem focusing on what they want to focus on. That is a choice they make.

    Focus on games – fun – do it.
    Focus on music – fun – do it.
    Focus on homework – not fun – don’t do it.
    Focus in class – not fun – don’t do it.

    How about having some consequences for not focusing when they ought to be – like taking away the games and music? If they behave, then give them limited privliges.

    Look, if you want a nation of people who cannot function without medications, good for you. I prefer not to have to deal with a nation of addicts because it is just easier to make all the “problems” go away with a little pill.

  52. I have a condition called essential tremor, which means that my hands tremble. It’s an inherited trait. I got it from my dad. My daughter has it too. Lots of people have this, and most people just deal with it, but I take medication for mine. Why? Because it’s a royal pain in the butt to try to do anything in the laboratory when you’re shaking chemicals all over the bench. Besides, it’s embarrassing when you can’t sip your drink without spilling it down your front or hold out a piece of paper for somebody to look at. So I take my low dose of primidone every day, and life is good. I guess Mad Scientist can add me to his list of people to disapprove of. I figure, better living through chemistry.

  53. Again, I ask, Mad SCIENTIST. Have you read the research?

  54. Mad Scientist says:

    Laura, that’s a demonstrable medical condition, and I see no reason not to take the drugs. Hell, I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol that are uncontrollable through diet and exercise.

    What I object to is the undemonstrable medical condition. I have said at least twice on this thread that medications should be used as a last, as opposed to first, resort.

    Rita: No. And I do not intend to. Most medical research as reported by the popular press is junk science, plain and simple. Besides, as I am a lay person (in this field) I do not have the expertise to pass judgment on the validity of the research methods or interpretation of the data. Happy?

  55. Tim from Texas says:

    Please, have a look at it this way. Push sodas-caffeine,terrible tv programming and movies which glorify-partying-beer- booze guzzling,
    cig.smoking,marijuana smoking, cocaine,drugs-meds
    of all kinds,in-your-face- T&A- bouncing- and- shaking,sex acts of any kind,agressiive acts of all kinds,blood-lust-violence,mendacities of every order,topped off every day with junk food,and junk beverages and topped off every weekend with a round or two of shopping till you drop and more junk-food-drink consumption,little to no socializing with the youth,i.e. recreation,physical activities, and positive learning activities,ended everyday deep into the night and then both parents going to a very long work day trying to make as much money as possible to purchase as many more rounds of same,and then we expect our youth to mirror something else. Then, when they don,t, we whine and complain,and look for the easy way out with drug-meds or any kind of remedy which can be bought.

    Of course, I left out many other situations such as high divorce rates and all that goes with it, not to mention “little things”, such as poverty, hungry to starving homeless adults and children,(all of this in an extremely bountiful country), not to mention a myriad of subtle influences, all of which impacts the behavior of our citizentry, adults and youth alike, esssspecially the youth. Of course, we have the wise-very successful,wealthy to obscenely rich, some of whom, try to do good things,but most of whom go through their day clutching their miser bags,then return at the end of the day to their walled-up-gated “hoods”.

    Now, to close, I would like you to know that I’m not approaching this as a dreaming Utopian, nor as a prude, nor as a hautier, for I like my beer,
    wine, cocktails, a good party, and other diversions that we humans must need, not to mention those drives which nature has made so enjoyable. However, what I am arguing here is that our approach, the system we have allowed to develop, the way we are doing things, is pathological,psychopathic and bordering on outright insanity.

    P.S. Yes, there are persons with maladies and biological problems,both physical and mental for which drug-medicines certainly help and sometimes cure. We should, I think, be extremely careful with the use of them with our youth,especially drug-medicines like Ritalin,Dexadrine, and other such/like stimulants.

  56. Mad, you can read medical research that is not reported by mass media. ADHD is being linked with Parkinson’s disease by medical researchers. Here’s one article published by the Medical College of Wisconson, and you can find more if you look. http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/?id=NEURO.MCW

    Years ago, my dad went to a doctor about his tremor. The dr. told my dad that it did not reflect a health condition that needed treatment (true) and that therefore he should just suck it up. I think my dad thinks I’m kind of a sissy to want to treat mine.

  57. Mad Scientist says:

    Laura: Any idiot can read medical research, but unless you are trained in the field and know how to interpret the data, you cannot tell me you can come to an independent conclusion that the research is valid.

  58. Calm down, Mad Scientist. I’m a 43 year old sales professional who graduated 24th in my class of more than 500 students in 1979. I have two undergraduate degrees and I’m preparing to enter graduate school. And, by the way, I’m female.

    I have ADD. I started taking Adderall about 10 years ago, and it’s an incredible aid. I can’t say enough good things about it. Yes, as an adult, I do have the right to decide whether or not I want to utilize this form of treatment; yes, I did utilize “good strategies” for years prior to using Adderall, with mixed results; and yes, I did succeed without it. But the difference is amazing. I take a low dose of the medication 5 days a week before work, and it’s great. If you don’t have ADD, it’s difficult to comprehend the stress, struggle, and frustration of trying to accomplish the simplest tasks that are relatively easy to complete while utilizing the medication. Sure, I can work, study, and live without Adderall–but why not utilize it? I wish I’d taken Adderall in school and college. Used properly, it’s very effective and worthwhile.