Pick of the Day: Talkin' About School & Society

Brotheridge beat me to the punch with his cover story in our Nov. 5 issue on Ohbijou, so I thought I'd give a shout out to the second installment of this popular Faculty of Education series which is being held tonight at LaBodega at 7 p.m. I say popular, because when I attended the first one on Youth, Gangs, Dropouts and Racism in late September the room was packed.

The topic tonight promises to be equally interesting: Pathologizing Childhood & Adolesence. I'm not sure what direction, exactly, the discussion will take, but I do know that in recent years a veritable epidemic of Attention Deficit Disorder has apparently broken out among school age children. Boys seem to be particularly vulnerable, and have been prescribed ritalin by the mouthful to curb their disruptive behaviour. At least, that's officialdom's take on the "problem".
It might be true that behaviorial problems among children are more prevalent these days -- although, as I recall, kids back in my day weren't exactly saints. But is this truly a medical issue or, as the title of this discussion seems to imply, are we doing what we so often do in our society, which is to ignore root causes of issues and settle for reactive as opposed to proactive strategies to deal with them?

Take diet, for example. Judging by obesity rates, kids today are consuming way too much sugar. Even in adults, that can wreak havoc on body metabolism and adversely affect behaviour. Is the solution to medicate children, or promote better nutrition? Class size is another issue. If we underfund education, so that schools have to boost student-teacher ratios, then teachers are less able to cope with classroom disruptions than they otherwise could. Due to the woeful lack of child care options, parents, especially in double-income families, are also under increasing stress. Medicating kids helps everyone cope, I suppose, but at a huge cost to the child's physical and mental well-being.

The subject's more complex than that, I'm sure. If you drop by LaBodega tonight, you'll find that out. And for those who are heading to the Exchange to catch Ohbijou, here's the video for their song "New Years" (YouTube). And because she's so damn cute, here's Light's (a.k.a. Canuck synth-popster Valerie Poxleitner) video for her song "Ice" (YouTube). She's at the Distrikt tonight.

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