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some things to bicker over. courtesy of temple grandin and jonah lehrer.

March 29, 2011

"cognitive genius" jonah lehrer discussing his book how we decide on the colbert report.

there’s this article by jonah lehrer that was published in both wired magazine, and also in the wall street journal, take your pick.  it’s entitled “against attention” in wired and “bother me, i’m thinking” in the wall street journal.  go read it and then come back and let’s talk about it.  for me it brings to light a lot of…stuff.  rumblings and grumblings that have been messing around in my head.

the points it raises for me are:  1.  computer trades (skills) are going to be paramount in virtually every discipline.  gis is no longer solely the territory of geographers, you’ve got planners and surveyors and biologists and anthropologists and economists and sociologists…everyone.  there’s heaps of cad design programs for engineers, architects, etc.  for music you’ve got pro tools and fruit loops and serato and ableton and on and on.  they’re great tools, and people are going to be forced to be very familiar with the hardware and software in their field of study.  2.  u.s. is losing.  charlie sheen might want you to think otherwise, but we’re losing.  we’re losing a lot of battles, but in particular we’re losing the battles of science, resourcefulness, ingenuity and creativity…at least on the world stage.  we’re being outpaced.  perhaps it’s time we stopped basing our education on success on standardized testing…seeing as how it tests none of the above skills.  and yes i believe they are skills…some are more naturally inclined but i believe ingenuity and creativity can be cultivated, taught, learned, they can become habits.  3.  whether or not i agree with the article…we are living in a country of over diagnosis, excuses and dependency.  ritalin and adderall.  i don’t believe it’s solely a big pharma conspiracy.  it’s also a lot of people (particularly parents) looking for excuses.  crutches.  as the article states, no teacher wants a picasso in their class.  but that doesn’t mean he needs to be medicated.  i’m with temple grandin and in support of neurodiversity.  (head over here for a really quick little run down of thomas armstrong’s 8 principles of neurodiversity.)  stop diagnosing 16 year olds with odd (oppositional defiant disorder).  it’s a common symptom of being a teenager, not a disease in need of medication.  just because you’re a bad parent or a bad teacher or because your kid might be having a tough time in the cut throat world of teenage life doesn’t mean they need to be medicated.  adderall makes pretty much anyone more productive (it’s a performance drug…steroids for your brain), whether they have add or not (there’s a reason it’s sometimes referred to as the ivy league crack.)  i’m a whiz kid on adderall.  but that doesn’t mean i should be prescribed it.  for many people it’s a crutch, it compensates for laziness and lack of discipline.  learn discipline, learn to meditate, put the responsibility on yourself instead of relying on a drug.  some people genuinely can’t function very well without it i’m sure.  but for the rest of us…nut up.  (i’m speaking of prescribed adderall.  i realize it’s used recreationally and that’s a whole different, and often, strangely, more honest conversation.)

i don't necessarily agree or disagree with the cartoon. but it's food for thought.

and this goes for parents and teachers too.  don’t throw your kid on drugs just because you can’t seem to control them or relate to them.  also, according to the article, adderall type productivity and focus might actually be detrimental to the creative cause.  this is not intended as a rant against adderall (i don’t believe it is inherently bad or evil by any means), and it is not to say i don’t think some people genuinely need help, and that sometimes the best help is medication.  i concur.  but it is a rant against the rampant over-diagnosis and over-medication currently taking place in our country.  it often lets us off the hook as parents, family, friends, teachers, individuals, institutions and, perhaps most importantly, as a society.  and impairs our creativity and our neurodiversity.  below i’ve included a quick little ted video from temple grandin discussing the idea of neurodiversity.  check it out.

agree with jonah?  what about with temple?  did i offend you?  get you riled up?  apathetic?  i encourage you to think for yourself and then talk amongst yourselves about all of it.  and have a great day.  cheers.

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