I guess the difference comes down to “won’t” versus “can’t”. There’s children who “won’t” behave appropriately in the classroom. They have the fundamental physical capability to do so, just not the desire. Then there’s the children who just physically can’t behave appropriately in the classroom. Their brains just aren’t organized that way. They want to do right. But they end up doing something impulsive or spontaneous and end up looking like a hound dog that’s been kicked too much.
Half the kids who are on drugs probably don’t need them because their problem is one of parents who aren’t interested in teaching proper behavior and are willing to take the easy way out of drugging the kid rather than teaching him how to behave properly. but there’s also number not on drugs who do need them. If you say “we’re not drugging our kid!” for a kid who really does need the drug to function well in a classroom environment, this leads to an unhappy kid who isn’t learning as much as he could, a frustrated teacher who is spending more time on your kid than on all the other kids combined because he can’t stay on task (*physically* can’t stay on task, it’s got nothing to do with him not “wanting” to stay on task, his brain just isn’t wired right to stay on task), and a classroom environment where less learning is taking place than could be taking place. Theoretically speaking, a kid with severe ADHD can be taught effectively with a strong behavior modification program that basically reprograms the way his brain responds to common classroom scenarios. But practically speaking, a teacher with 35 kids in her classroom just doesn’t have *time* for that. Maybe in a special education environment with six kids and a teacher plus aide, but school districts are already spending 25% of their budget to teach the 8% of the kids who are in special ed, and proposing to spend *more* budget… where is the money going to come from? Are we going to take yet *more* resources away from regular classroom teachers and the children in those regular classrooms?
In an ideal world schools would be organized differently with better ways to cope with kids who aren’t developmentally on the same path as the rest. But that isn’t the world we live in *today*. A kid suffering because of a theoretical utopia that might exist at some point in the future is still a kid suffering.
In short, any answer to “are we drugging our kids too much?” has to start one question: Which kid?. Trying to say there is one answer for all kids results in a disservice to both the kid and to society as a whole, which ends up with one less person living up to his full capabilities.
– Badtux the Education Penguin