Friday, July 24, 2009

An Ann Arbor Porch Moment

The other day I was sitting on my porch with a couple friends, taking in the evening, when the discussion turned to education. I started answering questions, explaining issues and theories, and listening to my friend's opinions. We hit one of those silent moments, when everyone finds themselves thinking and staring across the street at the same time. Then, Mary said, "Meghan, you got schooled!"

These past six weeks have gone so quickly. I didn't fully understand how much we had learned until that moment. I was able to intelligently discuss my future field. What most surprised me was that I actually did use terms from the taxonomy table. It is kind of hard to describe the aim to create critical thinkers without explaining what critical thinking is and how one arrives at that point. I know that the terms are sometimes hard to differentiate, but there does seem to be applicable purpose. At the same time, I just finished a chapter by Jonathan Kozol, in Letters to a Young Teacher, which criticized those terms to no end. So, I have been schooled, but know I still have a long, long way to go in fully understanding the complexities of educational issues. Can't wait for part two of SMAC!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two Bits and One Rant about ADD

First, I want to say I was wrong about twitter. Since my last blog, I have see twitter come up in everything from Elle Magazine to Business Weekly. It is a valuable resource. Our students would benefit from being fluent in tweeting, so I feel, as a future teacher, I need to be fluent in tweeting.

Second, I love Delicious. I cannot believe it took so long for me to discover such an amazing resource! I live by my saved tabs. I love organizing my list of web resources. So, this discovery is amazing.

Finally, a word about a reoccurring topic.

I wanted to use this blog to elaborate on a topic that has come up a few times during classes. I think a blog is appropriate because people are probably sick of hearing about it, but I feel I didn’t express what I wanted to say fully. So here goes my rant (based on my own experience, opinions and research presented in 649).
I understand that there is research that people who abuse ADD/ADHD medicine are undiagnosed. This follows from research that the stimulants actually cause a normal brain to be less efficient on the medicine than off of it. So, following that logic, people without ADD or ADHD would gain no benefit from those drugs and, therefore, not take them. I know that research is valid, but there is a social element among some groups that taking a stimulant pill is part of studying. I remember some people taking those pills, staying up all night, and accomplishing very little for the time they spent. That became their pattern to get through college, though, despite the glaring inefficiencies. Adderall and Ritalin flew around like Tylenol during my college experience—the abuse of which became a social norm. So, seeing that social element, I am hesitant to believe all of the abusers of stimulant drugs are undiagnosed ADD/ADHD folks.
The second aspect that concerns me is the ease with which students and doctors manipulated the system to gain access to the medication and time considerations. I vividly remember multiple conversations determining how to “pass” a diagnosis test. Whether the tests have changed since (that was eight years ago) is something I do not know. Regardless, there was a time when the tests were easy enough for many people I knew to actually get diagnosed. If those folks really have ADD is something I do not know. On the other end, some doctors encouraged this behavior. Maybe some of these doctors found their niche as the pill dispenser. Possibly, some of these doctors believed there were many, many undiagnosed ADD people. Either way, I know of a few instances of people who saw psychiatrists willing to write most prescriptions for them. As a bystander, the situation seemed unbelievably out of control and unethical.
These two aspects of my experience with ADD and ADHD lead me to believe it has been over-diagnosed among certain groups of people. If I am wrong, however, that means that a huge portion of the population has ADD or ADHD. If that is the case, what happened? Has it always been undiagnosed or did something happen environmentally or culturally to effect brain development? If there are that many people with ADD and ADHD, it seems we should alter our curriculum to account for their needs. By now, I feel I am beating a dead horse because I do not know if people can find the answers to these question without the past information. This issue seems pertinent, though, because there are so many questions, stereotypes, social stigmas, and misconceptions surrounding it.
I know I probably hit on a few misconceptions in this blog. Feel free to correct me. I am just trying to navigate through a difficult issue.

Friday, July 17, 2009


When I first heard about twitter, I thought it was ridiculous. Do I really care if one of my friends is feeling especially witty? Or wants to share that they are having fun shopping, eating jimmy johns, or doing homework? If it was that important, or had any direct effect on me, I figured one of us would pick up the phone. So, I pushed twitter off to the far side of my mind. It was categorized as “for teenagers,” “waste of time,” and “I don’t care.”
Until…I was required to make a twitter account for SMAC. I was shocked. Twitter? For educational purposes? Skeptical as I was, I went along with our professors and made a twitter account. After hearing their pitch, I could see a use for twitter in college classes, but still didn’t see a need for it in a High School. So, I pushed twitter to the side of my mind again. Then, the following week, it seemed like our whole class was twittering (tweeting?) to each other! Even people who initially shared my skeptical view were using it. It seemed to spread like wild fire.
So, maybe I was wrong. Maybe twitter isn’t just for teenagers. People seem to be having fun with it. If it’s bringing people together and helping to maintain networks, it isn’t a waste of time. I am glad I am in the twitter loop, but I still have some hesitations with it. First, I don’t know how I will be able to manage teaching, preparing lessons, navigating life in general, and keeping my blogs and twitter going. Second, I don’t really know how insightful one or two sentences on twitter can be. I am sold on blogs, but twitter is yet to be determined.