ADHD, Education, and the Church

Last night, I went to a Presbytery event that was on the emerging church/new forms of worship.  It was a very brief workshop, and we didn’t get very far into the topic, though the facilitator was engaging. Anyway, he showed a you tube video about Education Reform, and asked us to substitute “school” for “church” in our thinking. 

It was an interesting video. It begins with the premise that ADHD is a fictitious epidemic.  As someone who has seen children truly suffering with ADHD, that got my rankles up.  But as I listened farther, he never said ADHD was a fictitious diagnosis. I don’t think ADHD is over-diagnosed, but  I do believe that ADHD is over-medicated. There are children who need medication. And there are children whose parents or teachers want them to take medication before even considering anything else.  Selam has been tested for ADHD-twice. Interestingly, her pediatrician said, “if we get a diagnosis, then you have the bargaining tool to get some accommodations in the classroom that will help her succeed.”  The specialist said, “if we get a diagnosis, she can start medication.” (She didn’t get a diagnosis.)

Once I let go of the ADHD thing, what I got most out of the video was the emphasis in our educational system on individual achievement and mastery.  Throughout the schooling process, children are told to do their own work. They are evaluated as individuals. They are asked to sit down and be quiet and not share answers. Individual children make the honor roll. Individual children get recognized at special assemblies and events. Even in school sports, we award most valuable player awards, rather than the whole team congratulating themselves with a team win or a team accomplishment. I remember groaning-loudly-when the teacher would announce a group project.

Then they graduate, and in the world, and especially in church settings, we want everyone to be a team player. We want to do things as committees; we ask people to think of the least and the lost. But we’ve been socialized since kindergarten that the work that counts is individual.

Blah, blah. Clearly I have no particular point to make, but this is what I’m thinking about on a Saturday morning. What’s in your brain?


3 thoughts on “ADHD, Education, and the Church

  1. Oh, man! I wish I coulda been there. I have become an unwitting “expert” in education reform thru my work. And my son has ADHD. It never occurred to me to link those themes to church. But now…

  2. One thing about my girls’ school I like is that although my Selam was found to be “extremely active and distractible”, it was never once suggested I get her evaluated so she can be medicated. Having a son with ADHD, I do not think my girls have it…….they are merely “very active”. Another thing about their school….they keep saying that they are trained to be leaders…..I don’t know how that is when they are told to be quiet, listen, and do what they are told. Maybe because they are learning discipline? Not sure.

  3. I remember having a similar revelation when I realized that schooling, including Seminary, is a totally selfish pursuit until we get to a place where we start to use it. We work hard for our own grades, so that we can go on, so that we can get a good job and then get ahead in our field…

    Then, we get out into the world and, hopefully, experience a complete reversal into service. I don’t know how to “fix” education, but I do think a mixed experience is good for our kids and ourselves.

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