"Ritalin Ain't the Answer"

by Matt Scherbel

Matt Scherbel was 14 and in the eighth grade at Thomas Pyle Middle School in Bethesda, MD, when he wrote this for his school newspaper, "The Pyle Print."

The system wasn't and still isn't made for the extremists. The perfect student isn't a genius; he only takes extra care and concern. A stupid kid obviously doesn't fit; he needs more time to learn and special attention that the system doesn't like. No, the perfect student is a schmo. He only hands in what is asked of him, therefore no special praise. He's quiet and speaks not a word of his own mind.

Schools don't like extremists who like to think and question. They are the dreamers. That doesn't mean that they are wrong. They just don't fit the norm, so they are labeled and damned, labeled as A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder).

So the doctors dope us up with Ritalin and control our minds with low doses of speed. The teachers pay us no mind until our minds are under control. It screws up our train of thought and makes us one-dimensional. We get headaches and almost depressed getting on and off it. It takes away extra imagination and flow of the mind, hence destroying the true, purest ideas of my mind. I can't think right, and for six hours of the day, I'm not me. I'm what the system would like me to be.

The schools should shape our education around our idiosyncratic minds, our quaint minds, our quirky minds, our crackpot minds, our curious minds. Where would we be without eccentric people? We need them. The system should not shape our minds with dope and low doses of speed; the system should be shaped around us.

Ritalin does not help me learn; it simply lowers my mind down between the selected lines in which we are taught. Who's going to get further in life, the schmo with the same textbook answers and ideas, or the "A.D.D. kid" who can offer ideas that have never been thought of or a new perspective on something?

I truly look forward to the day when Ritalin isn't an answer. To the day when every student is labeled "learner."