“Difficult children”: ADHD and hyperactivity

John 9 New International Version (NIV)

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Various experts on the mind, and in the field of human resources – such as Tony Buzan and Sir Ken Robinson for example – have made the point that every child is very different and that children need to learn in different ways. One child may learn better using visual methods, whereas another may prefer a linear approach. One personality- type may excel when learning is accompanied by movement (rather than when sitting still in a chair at a desk) another individual may find  that imagination, even daydreaming is one of the most important faculties for learning. After all, Einstein himself reminded us that imagination is more important than knowledge.

Unfortunately, our entire western model of eduction is still stuck in a mode of thinking and assessment appropriate for the industrial age, but not our age. This has been well discussed by many thinkers and has been comprehensively presented in Sir Ken Robinson’s Book: Out of our Minds.

Our age needs to recognise that children may need to be assessed by less one-sided models. The  model of multiple intelligences which was originally developed by Howard Gardner of Harvard University is far more suitable for the obvious diversity of talents that are needed in todays society and economy.

Many children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, may have simply needed an approach which let them use movement and imagination for learning. Our rigid model of education, a derivative of what has been referred to as the ‘illusion of academia’  would, presumably, not have been too highly rated by Aristotle, who liked to walk whilst learning. This great thinker was called a peripatetic philosopher (peripateo = “to walk around”) because he liked to lecture to his students while taking a walk.

At the Lyceum (Aristotle’s school), discussions were held while the teachers and students walked around the grounds of the school, earning it the name of the “peripatetic”, or walking, school.

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. Sometimes, it may be necessary to get a diagnosis, and sometimes, as a last resort, even use some kind of medication, but only if a change in approach to the ‘problem’ does not help.

The change in approach, very often requires a re-orientation of thinking and experience, which can, in many cases achieve wonderful results for all.