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“Brain Gain” by the New Yorker investigates off-label Adderall usage

Here’s the link…

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/04/27/090427fa_fact_talbot

The article covers brain-boosting/neuroenhancement drugs in general, but highlights Adderall in particular (no wonder there…it’s the king).

Margaret Talbot, the author of the above-linked article, was also on National Public Radio (NPR) this afternoon discussing her findings

To those who have taken Adderall, it’s a pretty big “no duh” moment when a news reporter starts going hysterical over the “discovery” that kids are popping pills to get through exams and insane workloads assigned by colleges.

I can only hope that maybe, just maybe someone somewhere reads that article and thinks “Gee, maybe we need to take a look at our school system.”

Considering the structure and methods of the current educational system, it’s no wonder kids are popping pills designed to help them enjoy activities they would otherwise hate/have no interest in.

Colleges would do well to spend more time inventing some quality experiential learning programs and less time “testing short-term memorization of concepts”.

If school were more like it is in Harry Potter, I doubt we’d have such an epidemic of kids taking amphetamines just to get through classes….school would be exciting and enjoyable, the way it should be in a perfect (read: well-designed) system. When the bus comes to pick up the Harry Potter kids for their new semester at Hogwarts…they’re all excited and cheering…and sad when it’s over. How could we structure our educational system so that kids are literally excited to get on the school bus every day? There’s got to be a way.

I think it has something to do with encouraging individual paths and self-direction much earlier. Currently your personal interests and passions don’t even enter into the education question until you get to college and pick your major…and even then you don’t have major-specific classes until your third year. You’re 20 years old before you’re being taught anything that you actually half-want to learn — and only in a generalized, mass-appeal format. Natural aptitude and interest in particular subjects starts much earlier in life.

I have a blog with lots of articles on it (you’re reading it). Two blogs, in fact (not ready to publish the other one). Plus a book in the (early) works. Whether or not I am any good at writing, and whether I deserve to proclaim myself “a writer” as my sole and all-consuming self-identity is debatable…but writing is clearly a big part of my life and a big part of whatever the hell else I’m supposed to be doing here. So, that said..

Now, in second grade I was given this assignment: “Write a story from the perspective of a blind person.” I loved it. To this day that remains one of my all-time favorite assignments. 9 years old and I already had the writing bug…was already geared in that direction. Now imagine if I had the choice back then of saying “I want more assignments like this.”

But now I’m just venting. Read the article. It’s thorough and well-written. And it goes beyond just the college kids and into post-college workplace usage.

P.S. Incidentally, I am currently enrolled in college pursuing a Bachelors in Criminal Justice. I have a 4.0 GPA and perfect attendance (without Adderall). I know how to play the game; I just think most of it is bullshit.

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