I’ve been ill. Well, strictly speaking my left tonsil is still pretty unpresentable. There are good points and bad points to illness. I don’t suppose I need to go into the bad points; you’ve all been there. The good points are Radio 4 all day long and choosing bits of today’s paper that I want to read and curling up around my cat and sleeping (although that one is in a grey area as he wanted the lion’s share of the bed!)
There was one article I read with interest. It seems that perfectly healthy students are taking drugs for ADHD sufferers and narcoleptics because they are enable them to stay up longer and learn more. The bonus of drugs like Ritalin and Modafinil is that as of yet, no harmful side-effects have been discovered. So there is this perfectly harmless drug (supposedly) that enables you to think better, is non addictive and you can buy it over the internet for as little as £3 a dose. So would you take it?
As a student I did, come exam time, regularly dose myself up with ProPlus. Side effects of ProPlus were harder on whoever was sitting behind me in the exam as I started to act as if I was ADHD. I couldn’t sit still on the stuff, but I did stay awake; for days on end. Was it cheating? Or was it just one of those rites of passage that you go through as a student. Ritalin and Modafinil on the other hand have been proven to enhance the ability to learn. Trevor Robbins, professor of neuroscience at
“...analogous with doping in competitive sport. But what can you do? Even if you do drug tests in the exam hall, people might have used modafinil to improve their learning on a course in November, for instance, then taken the exam in July. How are you going to test it by then?”
But there is something that’s niggling at me and it’s not the ethical question of whether it’s cheating or not. It’s the question of time. When did we get so busy that the hours in the day are not enough? Even I’ve been feeling it this year. I can’t find time to make an appointment with a physiotherapist; I have to choose whether to do this or that. And if I had a wee relapse this week it’s because I didn’t give myself time to get better the first time round. And this is me who on the whole is pretty good about clawing back some of those minutes for me time. The head cannot create if it is not given empty space.
So what about today’s kids? Earlier this week as a bunch of us reminisced about how we would go out in the morning and come back in the evening. I also blew my colleagues theory out the window that is was city living that engendered this over protective upbringing as I grew up in city. So what’s changed? Apparently according to the article parents are pressurising their doctors to prescribe Ritalin and modafinil to their healthy kids. These kids are ferried around from ballet class to music class and extra this and extra that. When I was a kid I did Country Dancing and then just played and stuff. I don’t think I turned out too stupid either. It seems to me that the side effect of this drug is the death of the creative soul. We’re so busy filling these poor little people’s heads with facts that we are turning them into robots who can’t actually think. And maybe I’m burying my head in the sand and ignoring the world outside, but sometimes it’s good to just listen to the radio or read the paper.