Ritalin or else

A New Mexico father who took his son off Ritalin was investigated for child abuse and neglect. ABC News reports:

When Chad Taylor noticed his son was apparently experiencing serious side effects from Ritalin prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he decided to take the boy off the medication. Now, he says he may be accused of child abuse.

When he stopped taking Ritalin, 12-year-old Daniel began eating and sleeping better, but behaving worse in class.

School officials reported Daniel’s parents to New Mexico’s Department of Children, Youth and Families.Then a detective and social worker made a home visit.

“The detective told me if I did not medicate my son, I would be arrested for child abuse and neglect,” Taylor said.

. . . John Francis, a detective for the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety, said that Taylor was not threatened but told KOAT-TV that parents could be charged in situations like his.

Whether the benefits of Ritalin are worth the side-effects is a judgment call that should be made by parents.

About Joanne


  1. Hunter McDaniel says:

    I would agree that the cost/benefit decision needs to be made by the parents. OTOH, I think the schools should be free to put the child in a sidestream program if his behavior is disruptive. But that should be based strictly on his behavior, not whether the parents are following their prescriptions for treating it.

    There are many other analogies to this situation. Once we make society responsible for something (say, our health) then society wants to tell us what we can’t do (smoke, ride motorcycles, eat at McDonalds).

  2. Maybe the ultimate problem with the kid (behaving worse in class)is the lousy education he is getting at the hands of his government-run school. I am more surprised that more children aren’t going insane with that slop they pass off as curriculum… what percebtage of kids are on Ritalin, again?

  3. There are other drugs besides Ritalin. Why didn’t the kid’s doctor just switch him to something else?

  4. Rita C. says:

    And whether or not they’ve too disruptive to have in the classroom is a decision that has been taken away from the schools. I’ll take money bets none of you would want your precious darling in the same classroom with some of these kids.

  5. While I realize that there are some kids who truly do have behavioral disorders (as opposed to behavioral problems), I’m concerned that people are over-medicating kids who are actually normal. To complain that kids are rambunctious or they can’t sit still — c’mon folks that’s normal for kids. You can’t expect a 5-year-old to sit still and be quiet for hours at a time.

    Reaching for the drugs should not be the first reflex the first time your kid does something that annoys you (or annoys others).

  6. Rita…I suspect the chain of causation runs something like this: (1)Deny schools to ability to expel or seriously discipline troublemakers (2)With this ability gone, something else must be done–so keep the troublemakers medicated.

    Not to argue that medication is not helpful in some circumstances, but it definitely seems to have become too much of a first resort.

  7. re-read the story and substitute the “insulin” for Ritalin and “diabetes” for ADHD it reads differently. And on the other hand, there are a variety of treatments (as well as a range of misdiagnoses)

    What was significant to me was note of doctor, rather than teachers. Of course, as a parent, I can and should always get a second opinion.

    for the record, I fall in the camp that Ritilin is over-used

  8. I’ve seen the ticks.

    It all goes back to the credo of not spanking children for misbehaviour. In my day you got outta line they paddled you. Not sent you to a counselor that advised your parents to medicate you into submission.

    Paddling in schools would be good for both students and teachers. Along with being the fiscally sounder method.

  9. Rita C. says:

    How do you know it is the first resort? EVERY kid I’ve gone through the process with has gone to a drug (if they went to a drug) as the last resort.

  10. As I’ve noted before, my former boss whose kid is ADHD spanked him until she was afraid to touch him anymore. You can’t beat them to death. Well, you can, but that’s kind of a harsh cure.

    What I noticed in the article was that the teachers saw his symptoms returning and THEN found out he was off his meds. It’s not like they were saying “You must drug your kid” without any attention to his behavior.

  11. We don’t know enough about this. All of us are judging this on the basis of kids we have known. The doctor may have been spot on in his diagnosis; on the other hand, he may be a GP who is way out of his depth in prescribing this category of medication.

    For one thing, I doubt that the school officials, detective, and social worker are trained pediatric psychologists. I don’t think that threatening the father with arrest for child abuse would make him more willing to trust the good judgement of the authorities.

    In this context, I was taken aback by this sentence: “Preschoolers up to age 5, the study found, were the fastest-growing users of prescription antidepressants.” Are all these prescriptions written after an exhaustive process of diagnosis? This child is twelve. That means that his parents are responsible for his welfare, and have the duty to speak up for him, and to act when they believe that a drug is not helping him.

  12. mike from oregon says:

    My experience (mostly from friends) was that ADHD is diagnosed way too quickly (at least it seems to be around here). The child acts up, the teacher sends home a request that the child be looked at by a doctor due to behavior problems (often not a continual series of them, it can just be one or two). Just as often, they either suggest a “school doctor” or a “doctor who often works with the school” and BOOM – the kid is on the drugs.

    While I haven’t heard of a parent being threatened with arrest if they took their child off the drug; if behavior changes back from the docile lump sitting in the chair, the refuse the child admittance to the school.

    On the one hand, with over crowded class rooms and a lack of authority and displine, I can’t really blame teachers. By the same token, it’s really NOT the solution and I’m ashamed that the educational institution has taken this easy way out.

  13. Rita C. says:

    It’s not a docile lump teachers want; it’s a kid who isn’t shouting out anything that comes into his head constantly, jumping up and around the room, screaming his way down the hall, cussing out anyone who crosses his path, and leaving holes in the wall when he decides to dance (no, I’m not making any of this up).

    Since we’re debating by anecdote: I have personally been through two special ed. evals this year that the parents requested and during which the child was diagnosed as not ADD/ADHD. These kids are expensive to serve, and it is getting harder to get the label.

  14. It’s a pretty false analogy to compare not taking Ritalin to a diabetic child not taking insulin… no one dies from not having enough Ritalin in their system.

  15. Also, some people seem to be under the impression that Ritalin is a tranquilizer.

    It’s a stimulant. If a stimulant makes you calm down and pay attention, you’ve probably got a bona-fide case of ADHD. If you don’t, Ritalin isn’t going to drug you into submission.

  16. Tim from Texas says:

    It’s getting harder to get the label,because most of those hard to manage children, hyper children, jumping-up-and-down children,short-attention-span children, destructive children are suffering from severe long term day in and day out sleep deprivation. When a child goes to bed very late into the night day after day the chemicals go into a state of imbalance, constantly in a state of flux trying to compensate for the loss of necessary sleep. It puts the child into the situation as an upper and downer drug addict. Now, by late, I mean later than 7:00 pm for any child younger than 8, later than 8:00 pm for any child younger than 13, and later than 9:00 pm for any child younger than 16, and everyone else, no later than 10:30 pm. Of course’ these are general guidelines, and the times would change somewhat during DST. Has everyone forgotten that we are not nocturnal beings? Daylight means awaken. Night means go to sleep. Yes, modern life makes this extremely difficult or perhaps “impossible” for some. However, does this “truth” about our physical well being have to be forgotten alltogether, especially when it comes to our youth?

    What the authorities, if they had the right to demand anything, should have demanded the child be put on an daily exercise and decent bed time schedule. Yes, this becomes quite difficult and strenuous on the parent(s), but if a strict schedule is followed for a year the child’s chemicals will return to a balanced state. In addition, many of these children are attention deprived or bad attention assaulted by their parent(s). Coupling these things is a recipe for disaster.

    Sleep deprivation is not just a problem with many of our youth. It is a problem for many adults as well. It is a societal problem.

    The many causes, I might add, are obvious. The main cause, in my opinion, is that modern society has bought into the very false maxim that “time is money”.I am going to qoute Ezra Pound here(not that I’m a follower, and by stating this, I hope to quell any frothing which might occurr by quoting such a controversial writer), but because I think he was correct in stating: “Time is not money. It is everthing else, but it is not money.”

    Indeed, I have harped upon this subject before, for many, to a state of adnauseam I’m certain. However, I do think that sleep deprivation, as a cause of ADHD and many other maladies, cannot and should not be overlooked or ignored.

    To close, I say this: Whenever one observes a person, be that person a toddler, child, youngster, adolescent or young adult, and that person is attentive, alert,calm,at task and continues to stay at task to a finish(I think one can get the idea here),that person has experienced an excellent sleep regiman. Yes,yes, other factors are involved also, but a good sleep regiman must come first and and must continue.

  17. Take him off the meds then the parent needs to home school the kid. He dosnt have the right to be a disruption to the rest of his class.

  18. Having breakfast with a friend, discussing where we were going to send our toddlers to school in the upcoming years, he said of his son, whom already knew how to read and write by age 4:

    I don’t want him in a kindergarden class where he’s bored because they’re covering material he already knows, like how to read … I’m afraid they’ll insist they put in on Ritalin because they want all good little boys to act like good little girls …

    That was a couple of years ago. I’ve got a 4 year old little girl who knows how to read and will get into trouble if bored … so while I’m not so sure of the second half of my friends point, the first point has me worried about he same situation as the father in NM.

  19. Roy W. Wright says:

    He dosnt have the right to be a disruption to the rest of his class.

    To be truthful, he doesn’t have a right to an education. I agree with many of the previous posters; if they didn’t want the “ADHD” craze (among others) shoved down their throats, the parents should have homeschooled.

  20. Cousin Dave says:

    Folks, I am getting the feeling that there is a backstory here that isn’t being reported. It turns out that the Rio Rancho school district has a history of zero-tolerance stunts. See today’s Taranto column on Opinionjournal, down near the bottom:


  21. Mitchell says:

    “To be truthful, he doesn’t have a right to an education.” Good point. How DARE children act like kids? Why can’t they be good little drones like their parents, never making waves, never questioning? Some teachers wanted to put me on Ritalin when I was a kid, due to behavioral problems. My Dad asked some Flight Surgeons at NASA about Ritalin, and they basically told him that it was a very bad idea. So he told the teachers to just give me more work. The problems were greatly reduced. People who think Ritalin is the answer should have a great big dose every morning before they start their day. They definitely should not be allowed to become parents…..

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why are there more boys on Ritalin than girls?


    We hear on the news that enrollment is shrinking; so why doesn’t the school district and teachers tell the parents to home school their ADHD children along with all special needs children?

    The answer is: because they get extra funds for those children. They don’t want to spend that money on the students, they want to complain and have parents charged with abuse.

    The school went too far in calling the Department of Children, Youth and Families, instead of talking to the parents. If the child was on an IEP, then the school and parents needed to revise it when the child was taken off Ritalin.

  23. There’s a school of thought, and a growing body of literature, to the effect that ADHD (the real thing, not a misbehaving child) is a brain defect. If so, this could explain why more boys than girls have ADHD, since there are other brain differences between the sexes. For example, males are more likely to be left-handed than males are, and are more likely to be found at the extremes (both high and low) of IQ.

  24. “males are more likely to be left-handed than males are”

    make that, “than females are”

  25. Anonymous says:


    In classrooms nationwide, girls are pulling ahead of boys academically. Recent federal testing data show that what starts out as a modest gap in elementary-level reading scores turns into a yawning divide by high school. In 12th grade, 44% of girls rate as proficient readers on federal tests, compared with 28% of boys. And while boys still score slightly higher on federal math and science exams, their advantage is slipping.

    Instead of pursuing sound solutions, many educators merely advocate prescribing more attention-focusing Ritalin for the boys, who receive the drug at four to eight times the rate of girls, according to different estimates.

  26. Roy W. Wright says:

    Mitchell: I agree with your points, though I don’t see what they have to do with my statement…

  27. Anonymous says:

    Mitchell, it sounds like you were a typical boy in school. BORED!

    One problem is that schools don’t let boys be boys anymore. There aren’t hardly any recesses and the kids can’t have balls because they might hurt each other. They can’t run, jump or play. I’ve seen them standing in the schoolyard doing nothing.

    P.E. is a joke in elementary school. Speed-stacking cups isn’t a physical activity.

    Of course, if the children can’t get some exercise, they are not going to stay on academic task.

    I will agree, if the students don’t sit still and be little drones and follow the bee rules, and then Ritalin is the answer for them. We must conform those children to their place in society.

    Roy, as for “To be truthful, he doesn’t have a right to an education.” “The parents should have homeschooled.” I suggest then that the school tell the parents that and quit taking the extra money they receive for that child. Also they can quit collecting the property taxes they receive from that family.

    Or the school can implement an IEP with a behavioral plan instead of Ritalin.

  28. andrew stillman says:

    attention infidels: If parents would train up a child in the way he should go, they would not depart from it. It is how they are raised…end of story. Children are not to be rationalized with, they are to be disciplined. A child that is consistently, lovingly disciplined, will not be disruptive, insubordinate or disobedient. America’s problem is LAZY parents that don’t give a damn! Stop letting video games raise your kids and take responsibilty.

  29. Tammy in Texas says:

    from Tim in Texas: Has everyone forgotten that we are not nocturnal beings?

    Hate to tell you this, but I could easily be a nocturnal being – so could my kids. I honestly function better late at night. Unfortunately, I live in a society that doesn’t so I have to adjust.

  30. Teachers are not allowed to recommend Ritalin or any other medication. If I ever recommended specific medications or attempted a medical diagnosis at an IEP, I’d be immediately cut off. So don’t start in with, “Educators push Ritalin.” Puh-leez.

    But what teachers in my district are often asked to do is give specific information as it relates to classroom behavior. This means filling out forms for doctors and parents who suspect ADD/ADHD already. But I’ve been teaching for years, years I tell you, and not once have I heard of any teacher *ever* telling a parent to simply put their kid on Ritalin.

  31. Here’s a supreme irony: if Daniel had been taking Ritalin on his own (bought a pill from a fellow classmate), the kid would have been heaved into juvenile court for illegally using a controlled substance, and his parents would have STILL gotten a visit from CYF.

    Also, if Daniel had experienced a “frank episode of toxic psychosis” (as the Physicians’ Desk Reference describes one of the worst side effects of Ritalin), and shot up the school, the kid would have also ended up in juvie and the parents would also get a visit from CYF.

    Some days you just can’t win…so when it comes to government schooling, many parents would rather switch than fight.

    PS: I wonder what would happen as far as legal liability if Ritalin and other kiddie psych meds were implicated in at least one school shooting incident?

  32. The liability question is an interesting one. If a school unreasonably that a child take a drug, and that child suffers serious side effects, what is the potential liability of the school? Any comments from lawyers?

  33. Matt Kurlander says:

    Observation: The majority of elementary and middle school teachers are women. The majority of children on behavior-modifying medication are boys.

    Is it possible that some (not all) boys who are “discipline problems” are simply failing to conform to the teacher’s unrealistic expectations?

  34. Anonymous says:

    Puh-leez, educators do too push drugs.

    When my child was in government school, a teacher suggested I get him on some form of meds. When I tried to talk to her about it, I was told that she’s the professional, she knows these things.

    All he needed was some breaks (recess)doing something physical like running, jumping, playing catch, etc.

    I know a family who was told that unless their child was on meds, not to bring him back to school.

    Matt, I’ve read articles pertaining to what you wrote and they agreed completely with what you wrote.

  35. “When my child was in government school, a teacher suggested I get him on some form of meds. When I tried to talk to her about it, I was told that she’s the professional, she knows these things.”

    Couldn’t this be construed as the practice of medicine without a license? Again, comments by lawyers (and also by physicians) would be welcome.

  36. Tim from Texas says:

    Matt and anonymous at 9:23 A.M., I agree, and we are not alone in this. The classroom, that is, the instructional portion, for the most part, has always been skewed against boys and has catered to girls. It has become even more so in the past 20 years. There are,however, many aware of the situation and many more are becoming cognizant of it. Evidence of this awareness, of course, is indicated by all the discussion of boys on Ritalin, and the fact that boys, as a whole, are doing relatively poor in academics today. Other aspects of this problem have been conspicuous all along. Example: Dress codes, and all that goes with them, have always been strictly enforced on boys , but not the girls. Example: Talking in the classroom, running in the hallways, and those types of things in general, have always been more vigorously enforced on boys. There are many more examples, of course. In addition, it is not only the women teachers who are guilty of this, men teachers are also, and in some respects, more so. As a somewhat aside here, it is my opinion, and I think there are some facts and revelations to back me, that co-educating our youth from the onset is a detriment to our boys especially, and to girls as well.

    Our school systems begin losing boys in every aspect starting with the 4th grade, some will argue it begins with the 3rd grade. As a matter of fact, the failure rate of 4th grade boys is one of the determining factors in predicting future prison populations. There is most definitely a very “smelly rat” in all of it and the problem needs solving.

    It is also my opinion that any boy who makes it beyond the 9th grade in our present system should be praised, and any boy who graduates from high-school should receive a metal.

    Tammy in Texas, I hate to tell you this, but you and your children can’t easily be nocturnal beings, and never will be nocturnal beings, that is, if you are human, and I am assuming you are. The reason you have to adjust is that your sleeping regiman got flipped and unnatural. Now, if you are functioning well in an unnatural state, then there is no telling how much better you would function in the natural state. But alas, many try to swim up stream, so to speak, and some make it quite a distance, but at what expense.

  37. The teacher may have “suggested” getting on “some form of meds” but that’s a BIG difference from medical diagnosis and attempting prescription, neither of which any teacher is qualified to do.

    When parents have come to me about their suspicions re: their child’s ADD/ADHD, I’ve described the changes I’ve seen when medication has been used. But this has been in the context of thoughtful, supportive conversations about a child’s specific behaviors and needs. It’s never been, “Put your child on Ritalin.”

  38. Mark Odell says:

    Bryce wrote: Here’s a supreme irony:

    Irony, or design?

    Prescription for Addiction
    Drugging Our Kids
    Totalitarian Medicine

    Mr. Taylor might consider moving out of the state permanently.

  39. Suzi,
    #1 you wrote, “Teachers are not allowed to recommend Ritalin or any other medication.”

    Then you write: #2 “The teacher may have “suggested” getting on “some form of meds”

    I do not quite understand your two posts. What exactly do you mean? What is the difference?

    I do know that a teacher isn’t qualified to diagnosis a child so even the suggestion was redundant.

    I never went to the teacher about “suspicions” she came to me. I took my child to a child psychiatrist of my choice and there was nothing wrong with him. Again, all he needed was some breaks (recess) doing something physical like running, jumping, playing catch, etc. One ten-minute recess in the afternoon and a few minutes at lunch didn’t cut it for an active child. Most seven-year-old boys can’t sit from 8:00 am until lunchtime. Matter of fact, I would say all seven-year old boys can’t.

  40. Tim,

    Thank you for the wonderful post. I had read some of those statistics awhile back. I just wonder what the very “smelly rat” in all of it is and the why? Do you have any idea or thoughts about it? I would love to hear/read them.


    Thank you for the links. I saved to my favorite list and will read them more this evening. I just skimmed through them quickly. How sad and tragic Drugging Our Kids was to read.

  41. Rita C. says:

    Yet, when somebody suggests changing “government schooling” methods to teaching styles that are more active, everybody here has a hissy fit and a half. Go back to drill and kill! Lecture! Be rigorous! We want a traditional education! If you’re saying little boys can’t handle traditional education, then what?

  42. Freezy,

    I apologize if my original post came across as sarcastic. As one of the few public school teachers who posts here, I have to wonder if I’m a masochist. Most everyone gets all googly-eyed at the chance to lambast my profession or the schools. It gets tiring.

    Anyway, if the teacher came to you and recommended medication without explaining why, or without your initial raising of concerns,then he/she was out of line. But when you say the teacher “suggested using some kind of meds,” that’s vague enough to cover all kinds of scenarios. You didn’t explain who initiated the conversation. You didn’t mention that it was the teacher’s initiative. It wasn’t clear what the conversation was about. Thanks for clarifying.

  43. Anonymous says:

    It’s the “government schooling” that has recesses to none or only one in the elementary grades. The one recess if allowed is only 10 minutes and that is in the afternoon. They are not allowed to run, jump or play. Again, speed-stacking cups in P.E. is not a physical activity or the so-called game of Junk Yard Dog.

    See the attached link:

    It’s quite interesting and states that extended periods of two hours or more of inactivity are discouraged for children, especially during the daytime hours.

    Little boys can handle traditional education, what’s going on now in the “government schooling” isn’t traditional and hasn’t been for years. There used to be two recesses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. There was a lunchtime when the children were allowed to eat without being rushed and then a lunch recess after lunch. Now the children are rushed to eat and get back to class.

    Even bathroom breaks are on the school’s schedule. I’ve seen teachers line the whole classroom up to use the restroom. Three children in the restroom, while the rest stand in the hallway. That’s traditional? Pity the child who has to go after that break, they’re not allowed to or if allowed to they have to stay five minutes after school.

    This link shows a test from the eighth-grade final exam in 1895, from Salina, KS. It’s quite interesting and shows how there is no more traditional education now. I don’t think that many eight graders today, could pass it.


    What teaching methods to you consider active? I met a principal who thought walking to the library was active.

    I believe in drilling for certain subjects, math is one of them.

    I’m sorry for the above double post, I must have clicked twice. 🙂

  44. Suzi,

    It’s okay; posts can be misunderstood or not clarified enough for people to understand. 😉

    I was giving my experience as to what happened to my child. I’m sorry I offended you. That was not my intention.

    I believe that there is good and bad in everything.

  45. It is unfair to blame the schools for a child’s excess of energy. In the old days, i.e., my childhood, many more kids walked to school. After school, more kids were available to play. There were no Game Boys. In such a context, a morning recess and a lunch recess were not the only opportunities a kid would have to blow off steam. More and more it strikes me that modern life is not an unalloyed blessing.

    I have read of schools cutting recess to have more class time, a terrible trend. If most children are heading from school to day care anyway, why not lengthen the school day? Use the extra time for competitive sports and time to complete homework? If teachers were available to give guidance to kids who needed it, it would, in my opinion, come close to duplicating conditions which we take for granted in middle-class homes.

    I know that this idea will horrify many posters. I am not advocating that all schools lengthen their school day, but at some point, shouldn’t schools admit that we don’t live in the twentieth century?

  46. I’m an adult with ADHD. I have a 14 yr old stepson with ADHD and 2 preschool sons exhibiting signs of ADHD.

    The 14 yr old was medicated because of the laziness of his mother and strong encouragement of his educators. If he “forgot” to take his pill before school, they would send him home or have his mother bring him one. Basically, their implied statement was… No medication – No education. Following discontinuance of meds, he failed 2 school years in a row and is now in his 2nd year of summer school (which MY tax dollars pay for.) If he had been taught “coping” and “socializing” skills during those early adolescent years, I don’t believe his behavior and drive would have declined to where it is today.

    I assure you… if I experience the same attitude from my own childrens’ school, I will enroll them in private school and hire a civil rights attorney. The absence of ADHD meds is not life-threatening, abusive, or neglectful, and nobody, I mean NOBODY, has the right to make my kids into speed-freaks! Unfortunately, I believe lazy parents, lazy teachers and over-zealous law enforcement and government agencies have led us to where we are today.

    If anything, the “entities” trying to enforce the doping of our children should have criminal charges filed against them for forced distribution and consipracy to distribute controlled substances to minors.

  47. Richard Aubr4ey says:

    When I was in the sixth grade, the boys played a game called, I think “Red Rover”.
    Two lines faced each other, arms linked. We took turns running at the other line, trying to break it. The team which broke the opposing line more often won.
    It was big-muscle exercise, it was contact (“collision”), it was competition, it was joyful.
    We organized it ourselves, no help from adults. Recess is where you get away from adults, isn’t it? Them and their stupid rules.
    It settled us down.
    I don’t know if it would be allowed today.
    Falling down?
    Bloody noses?
    Boys having riotous fun without adult control…. terrifying.
    Not at all quite the thing, old chap.

  48. Julia,
    Isn’t it unfair that schools can say a child has to be put on medication to attend? Isn’t it unfair that they have the right to call Social Services if a parent chooses not to medicate a child? Isn’t it unfair that a parent can be charged with abuse for not medicating a child to conform to a set standard that a school expects? Isn’t it unfair that recesses are cut? Isn’t it unfair that the trend is not to let boys be boys and be active at recesses or P.E?

    C. Moore makes very valid points. She is one of many stories that we hear about. Who or what gives the schools the right to dictate who needs medication? We all pay taxes, some of which are spent to hire behavioral consultants,(Schools never had those when I went to school.) who can help children with social and coping skills. But, it’s easier to put a child on medication; the child is now classified as ADHD, which then brings in more money for the schools.

    As a parent who doesn’t work outside the home, and when I did, I do disagree with a longer school day. They spend enough time at school. Many day cares and the YMCA do have physical activities for the children to do.

    I wonder how many teachers would want to have a longer day?

    There are many families who aren’t middle class and those children go home to a loving and caring environment. Not all middle class families are wonderful roll models for the poor.

    Yep, I remember playing Red Rover and Dodge Ball even in P.E. Fun and activity wore us out physically. We were then mentally ready to learn afterwards.

  49. Steve LaBonne says:

    “Yet, when somebody suggests changing “government schooling” methods to teaching styles that are more active, everybody here has a hissy fit and a half. Go back to drill and kill! Lecture! Be rigorous! We want a traditional education! If you’re saying little boys can’t handle traditional education, then what?”
    In case other responses didn’t make it clear enough, the answer to this false dichotomy is that most of the “activity” should be taking place at recess- by way of a longer school day which has the same amount of (largely “traditional”) instruction time but more time for play and letting off steam. This seems to work well in Japan.

  50. Tim from Texas says:

    Freezy, I do have some opinions as to “the smelly” rat in all of it. However, since it is such a complex and emotional subject for everyone, I prefer to express my opinions, piecemeal, so to speak, as future opportunities arise. I look forward to the possible discussions.

  51. Rita C. says:

    Active teaching styles: kids up out of their seats for certain activities (not all the time). If I recall, that’s called chaotic around here. My experience is that it isn’t, but whatever.

    The government schools I work for have not abolished recess. I’m not sure where that is going on. They don’t play tag or dodgeball, but the kids are running around, swinging, up and down and around the play structure, etc.

    No child has the right to derail the education of the other children in the classroom.

  52. Hey, nix on the red rover. You can get serious injuries to the young joints with bigger kids crashing through smaller kids. Other than that, the more exercise the better.

    ex PE teacher

  53. Tim,

    I’ll stay tuned in for the next discussion. I’ve had time to think and have done some reading up on it.


    I agree that no child has the right to be disruptive in class. Where I disagree is that schools have the right to dictate that children, typically boys, have to be medicated to attend. In this day and age where schools have psychologists, behavior consultants, counselors, and even social workers, why do the children have to be drugged?

    I also don’t understand why the traditional way of teaching isn’t being done. It’s been proven to work, whereas we know, for example, that the whole word concept doesn’t.

    Ex P.E. teacher,

    Red Rover is quite fun to play. I’ll take your word on it about the joints. 😉 Enjoy your retirement.

  54. Oh, not retired. Just finished my forty second year in this game. Now teaching environmental science. Ah, teaching in the 60’s. Now there was a time!

  55. Whoops, I wasn’t finished. I took a class of fourth graders on a nature hike around the school last week. One really ADHD kid in the class. I mean this kid is all over the place. Absolutely lovable kid, just that he defines hyper. Anyway, he decided to hop the whole hike. What the heck, two days left in the year, I just let him hop. 45 minute class and he hopped the whole way. At the end of the class I asked him what we had seen and discussed. He gave a very good account of the whole experience. Just watching him you would swear he couldn’t have been learning anything. So…you never know. Seriously though, in the contained classroom this kid does dominate the teacher’s attention to the detriment of the whole class’ progress. And this one crackerjack teacher.

  56. Rita C. says:

    Freezy, kids don’t have to be drugged. But they have to behave.

  57. Tim from Texas says:

    At school boys need plenty of exercise and play starting day one. They need a complete P.E. period each day, which of course, is structured and a full complete recess period which is not.

    For boys in high-school a daily P.E. period should suffice,and possibly for the 8th grade as well, but until that time boys must have both structured and unstructured activities.

    Beginning at Pre-k continuing through the 7th grade, the P.E classes will provide structured exercises,team and non team sports play, and their rules and techniques, which are very important.

    However, the daily, full recess period must be totally unstructured, that is, it should not be structured by the teachers or any other adult. Of course, there must be some observer-referee-mediators, it’s difficult to give title here, but my preference would be to call them “wisemen”. These wisemen would be there to put a “cap” on certain activities and play when they get way out of hand. When a cap or stoppage should occur is not an easy thing to discern, for a premature cap or stoppage, defeats the purpose of an unstructured recess. Hence, my preference for the name wisemen, or they could be wisewomen, for it is totally wrong to think that there aren’t women who could handle it. The only men and women who I don’t think should be chosen are coaches, yes, coaches for P.E. and sports, but not for an unstructured recess. For the very young boys Pre-K to 2nd grade, playground stuctures such as jungle-gyms, slides and the like will suffice. For the 3rd- 7th graders a large play area and various play equipment available,without the play structures is required., and let them go at it. This type of play at this stage for boys is vastly more important than P.E.

    I think for the most part our society has forgotten just how extremely important such unstructured play is to boys and their development.

    Yes, yes, I know ,I know. It will be argued that the school day is not long enough, but that is just not true. Moreover, it will be argued that in our modern society, for various reasons,it just would not be possible,well, that’s just not true either.

  58. Atlas,

    Wow! Forty-two years of teaching, amazing! I’m sure you have stories you could share about the 60’s and all the changes you have seen and been through. As I read your story about the 4th grade boy, you allowed him what he needed. You sound like a wonderful caring teacher.

    I do know that there are crackerjack teachers out there. 😉 Like I said before there is good and bad in all things.

    Take care.

  59. “Freezy, kids don’t have to be drugged. But they have to behave.”

    I did say I agree that no child has the right to be disruptive in class.

    I also said: Where I disagree is that schools have the right to dictate that children, typically boys, have to be medicated to attend. In this day and age where schools have psychologists, behavior consultants, counselors, and even social workers, why do the children have to be drugged?

    I noticed that you didn’t comment on the fact that schools have the right to dictate that certain children have to be medicated to attend.

    I also noticed that you didn’t comment on the psychologists, behavior consultants, counselors and the social workers, which all could help the children with behavior plans, instead of drugs.

  60. Tim,
    When and where I went to school, recesses were like that, one in the morning, one after lunch, and one in the afternoon. Recesses were 20 and lunch recess was 30 minutes, respectively.

    In elementary school, P.E. was three times a week for 50-minute periods.

    In the days when they had junior high schools, instead of middle schools, P.E. was daily. I don’t know for sure what it is now.

    In high school, P.E. was daily with a semester of health. Girls had the option of picking certain curriculum in P.E, such as soccer or gymnastics.

    P.E. was an hour, with the two higher schools allowing a small amount of time for changing of clothes and showers.

    At the school my boys went to, PE for them was 15 minutes for K, 20 minutes for 1st through 3rd and 30 minutes for 4th and 5th, twice a week.

    They had one daily, ten-minute recess starting at 1:00 pm with the grades separate, meaning that some grades’ recess were at 1:50 pm and school got out at 2:30 and 2:40, depending on the grade. Lunch break was 10 minutes also. They would sit in class for three hours until lunch.

    In all reality, it can be done, even with modern society.

  61. Rita C. says:

    Freezy, you must live in an extremely affluent district. While we do have a social worker, she serves over 2000 students. We have one psychologist for the entire district. We do not have any such thing as a behavior consultant. While these professionals work very hard to find the children that need help, they do not provide the help themselves. They screen and refer to other agencies. We are a school district, remember? We are in the business of education. If your child needs therapy, that is your responsibility. And before you start in on me, my child did need speech and occupational therapy, and I provided it. I now do occupational therapy with her every day. I have a hyper-active child (not ADHD — another disorder), which is why I get so many hyperactive children in my classroom. Parents like me because I walk in their shoes. I know how to deal with these kids. I know that many children do not need medication, but do need help learning to cope within the school environment. The parents and teacher should work together in that case to figure out what the child needs. Some children have severe ADHD and need medication. Regardless, it is the parents’ responsibility to figure out what is going on, not the school’s. But if the parent is not willing to work with the child in order to make him or her a functional member of the classroom, then the school has the right to say do something or keep him/her home. One child does not have the right to disrupt the learning of everyone else. That’s a fine line to walk as a teacher because I’m charged with the education of ALL my children, but I make that decision every day. Do I keep this child in my room because he/she needs to hear this lesson, or is he/she derailing me so that nobody will hear this lesson? That’s a hell of a moral decision to make in a split second. Again, it isn’t about medication if that’s not what’s needed, but if the parent isn’t willing to do anything, then what is the school supposed to do?

  62. Freezy, You know what the topic is when us old timers get together? We talk about what fun teaching used to be. The freedom to just take a class where it needed to go at that time. None of the young teachers I talk to now would ever say what fun teaching is. Satisfying, fullfilling, making a difference, yes, but never would fun be mentioned. I miss that.

    That said, I sure like having a full time counselor, nurse, media specialist, computer specialist, special education department in our little elementary school. Didn’t have anything like that kind of support back when.

  63. Counselor, nurse, media specialist? Wow, atals. I didn’t know those even existed at schools anymore.

  64. Sorry about the typo in my name. Atlas not Atals. A nickname from my poker playing buddies refering to my somewhat dimunitive stature. Taking their money is my revenge.

    Yep, my ‘government school’, has all that. We tax ourselves heartily to do it. We vote the taxes locally and elect our neighbors to the school board to establish policy. Money well spent.

  65. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think that I live in an affluent district, considering that they are always talking about cutting into the bare bones, and having to cut music, sports, etc. so they can educate the children.

    The point being that they have the money for psychologists, behavior consultants, counselors, and social workers. Oh, and as Atlas mentioned, media specialists, computer teachers, reading teachers, occupational therapists, and whoever else. (I do remember that teachers used to teach children how to read, not someone hired especially for that.)

    While these professionals work very hard to find the children that need help, they do not provide the help themselves. They screen and refer to other agencies. We are a school district, remember? We are in the business of education.

    I know that the schools have speech therapists and have for many years. I know that a child who receives speech therapy is considered special education. I know that they do have their own OT’s come into the schools and work with children. I’ve seen children with the behavioral consultant. I know that services are provided through the district. I know that every child that has been labeled as ADHD and other labels are considered special education and the district receives extra money for that child. I also know that all special education children are allowed a free and appropriate education, under IDEA. Under free and appropriate, services are included. Who decides what is appropriate? It’s mainly the district and teachers. If the parents disagree, then it’s the schools right to tell the parents to keep your child at home?

    If your child needs therapy, that is your responsibility.

    As a teacher, are you saying you don’t know about IDEA?

    The parents and teacher should work together in that case to figure out what the child needs.

    What if the parent disagrees with what you suggest or want? Are they bad or unconcerned parents?

    But if the parent is not willing to work with the child in order to make him or her a functional member of the classroom, then the school has the right to say do something or keep him/her home.

    Since you think the school has the right, I suggest then, the school let the parent opt out of paying their taxes to the district so that they put their child in a private school or help off set homeschooling.

    I think the districts/schools forget that they work in a “PUBLIC” school. It’s a service they provided at taxpayers expense, they want our money, but they want things their own way. Parents need to take their rights back for their children sakes.

    One child does not have the right to disrupt the learning of everyone else.

    I have agreed to that, but there are other alternatives besides drugs. Again, a behavioral plan can work wonders for ADHD and hyperactive children. A good plan would allow for more physical activity, which has been proven to work. It just takes a little extra time, or is it easier to hand out the drugs?

    A behavioral plan may not even be needed if there were decent recesses and P.E. But then the districts/schools would lose money without that special education label.

    Something to think about if my information is correct: ADD exists in the U.S. and not in Scandinavia, The Netherlands, France, Fiji, and in Japan.


  66. Atlas,

    I understand what you’re saying.

    Did things start changing around 1965? Isn’t that when the school administrative system changed?

    I get tired of hearing how it’s the parent’s fault, whereas I’m sure that the teachers get tired of hearing how it’s their fault.

    If you’d think about it, neither the teachers nor the children have any fun or freedom anymore.

    How can a teacher teach, if there is no freedom or fun? How can it then be satisfying and fulfilling? Are good teachers telling themselves they’re doing the best that’s allowed?

  67. Rita C. says:

    Freezy, of course I know about the IDEA. If you had read my post, you would have realized that my child falls under the IDEA. The IDEA is a good idea and has led to some good reforms, but as a classroom teacher, I cannot spend all my time catering to one kid. Is there something about that you do not understand? I know all about behavior plans, etc. I create them every year. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. I have more strategies than you could possibly imagine for hyperactive teenagers. Mostly, I create them on my own because the parents don’t give a flying you-know-what about the kid. So don’t keep telling me I’m pushing drugs and I’m the big bad guy. I’m trying to do what I can for kids. But, I don’t care what the IDEA says, no child has the right to take away the education of other children. That’s the “appropriate” line in the sand. That’s when the “appropriate” education is a self-contained class or alternative school. And, btw, ADHD definitely exists in Japan. That’s the only country I bothered to google. Get your facts straight.

  68. What Rita said. And teachers never “hand out the drugs.” At my school, student medicines are kept under strict lock and key in the office.

    And to reiterate: Teachers cannot recommend drugs. Teachers cannot prescribe drugs. Schools and teachers cannot diagnose or treat illnesses. It’s against the law. So if a teacher or school ever explicitly urges you to put your child on Ritalin or any other drug, don’t complain here: take it to court or to the superintendent.

  69. There was no ‘world trade center moment’ in education where things changed. Why Johnny Can’t Read was published in 1955. Sputnik went up in 1957 as I recall. Maybe the corner slowly started to turn around then. But it takes at least a generation for things to move very much in education, or any other enterprise that large.

    Of course now lawsuits fly at the drop of a hat. That has people looking over their sholders a lot. Parents too. We have parents coming in and demanding tens of thousands of dollars in special education services for kids that have rather minor problems. All these things gradually change the climate.

    I could never get a job now using the skills I graduated with in 1962. Teachers now are much much much better prepared. We know so much more about how learning happens and how to set up the experience. I got a lifetime credential when I graudated. Now credentials are good for 3 to 5 years or so and require coursework for renewal. This varies from state to state of course.

    Well, I seem to have hopped all over the place here. Maybe I should lay off the coffee a bit

  70. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I read your post. Again, I know that teachers cannot spend all their time with one child. My children were in public school; I know what goes on in the classrooms. It was suggested by a teacher that my child be put on medication. Like I said I took my child to a private psychiatrist of my choice, when she brought that up. To continue, his diagnosis wasn’t good enough for the teacher; I was told that she wanted the school psychologist to test him. Believe it or not, I wanted to work with the school, so I sign the papers and had him tested by the school psychologist. Of course, what he comes up with is totally different that the psychiatrist that I paid for. You know what I was told at numerous meetings? The school does not have to accept an outside evaluation. I suggested a behavior plan, but that’s not acceptable, they want me to take my child to a medical Doctor with their evaluation. As a concerned parent, I took my children out of school.

    There are concerned parents out there.

    I cannot spend all my time catering to one kid. Is there something about that you do not understand?

    I understand that a teacher cannot spend time catering (your word) to one child. There are other options as I had suggested.

    But, I don’t care what the IDEA says, no child has the right to take away the education of other children. That’s the “appropriate” line in the sand. The fact is that children called be pulled only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. When is the line drawn, for trying different services and aids instead of insisting medications?

    So don’t keep telling me I’m pushing drugs and I’m the big bad guy. I didn’t know that I personally named you. As we seem to have a problem, I’ll skip reading your posts.

    As for the facts, I did write if my information is correct.

    I know that nurses dispense medications at school.

    don’t complain here

    I thought the title of this board was Ritalin or else. I didn’t know that parents couldn’t post their opinions or what happened to them.

    take it to court or to the superintendent

    I read and hear how schools complain that parents are sue-happy and then you tell a parent to sue.

  71. amy jean says:

    a young mother of three in my massage therapy school i sbeing told her son must go on ritlin or be homeschooled, which she definately does not have time to do. I’m looking up some info for her now, but i feel that statistics are most convincing. If anyone knows where i can find numbers about kids in Japan, kids who get recess, kids who go to shrinks, etc. and how many of them have to go on meds as compared to kids in present day lazy america, puh lease email me. thank you so much


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