Problems with American Education System for ADD ADHD Children

Problems with American Education System for ADD ADHD Children

The education system is not designed to allow for ADD ADHD children to flourish. They are often mislabeled and pressured into taking ADD ADHD drugs.

Dr. Mate explains why standardized testing penalizes the best teachers.


AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Gabor Maté, there’s a whole debate about education in the United States right now. How does this fit in?

DR. GABOR MATÈ: Well, you have to ask, “How do children learn?” And learning is an attachment dynamic as well. You learn when you want to be like somebody. So you copy them, you learn from them. You learn when you’re curious, and you learn when you’re willing to try something. And if it doesn’t work, you try something else.

Now, here’s what happens: caring about something, and being curious about something, and recognizing that something doesn’t work, you have to have a certain degree of emotional security. You have to be able to be open and vulnerable. Children who become peer-oriented —because the peer world is so dangerous and so fraught with bullying and ostracization, and “dissing,” and exclusion and negative talk- how does a child protect himself or herself from all of that negativity in the peer world? Because children are not committed to each others’ unconditional, loving acceptance. Even adults have a hard time giving that. Children can’t do it. Those children become very insecure, and emotionally, to protect themselves, they shut down. They become hardened, so they become “cool.” Nothing matters, “cool” is the ethic.

You see that in the rock videos: it’s all about cool. It’s all about aggression and cool and no real emotion. Now, when that happens, curiosity goes because curiosity is vulnerable. Because you care about something and you’re admitting that you don’t know. You won’t try anything because if you fail, again, your vulnerability is exposed. So, you’re not willing to have trial and error. And, in terms of who you’re learning from, as long as kids are attaching to adults, they are looking to the adults to be modeling themselves on, to learn from, and to get their cues from.

Now, kids are still learning from the people they’re attached to, but now it’s other kids. So you have whole generations of kids who are looking to other kids now to be their main cue-givers. So teachers have an almost impossible problem on their hands. And unfortunately, in North America again, education is seen as a question of academic pedagogy. Hence these terrible standardized tests. And the very teachers who work with the most difficult kids are the most penalized.

AMY GOODMAN: Because if they don’t have good standardized test scores in their class, they could be fired. They are seen as bad teachers, which means that they’re going to want to kick out any the difficult kids.

GABOR MATÉ: Yes. That’s exactly it. The difficult kids are kicked out and teachers will be afraid to go into neighborhoods because of troubled family relationships- that kids are having difficulties, that kids are peer oriented, that kids are not looking to the teachers. And this is seen as a reflection. So actually, teachers are being slammed right now because of the failure of the American society to produce the right environment for child development.

AMY GOODMAN: Because of the destruction of American childhood.

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