Boys – Attention Deficit on the Rise or Is It!

Boys – Attention Deficit on the Rise or Is It!


By Hwaa Irfan

Data now compiled and reviewed by researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and University of Basel, Germany have proven what an increasing number of American parents suspect or believe to be true, i.e. that Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder, ADHD is over-diagnosed.

The data demonstrates that adolescent psychotherapists and psychiatrists use unclear guidelines to make their diagnosis instead of applying a recognized diagnostic criteria, and this applies to boys more than it applies to girls.

The data was based on a survey of a 1,000 adolescent psychotherapists and psychiatrists across Germany with 473 participants.  The stereotypical diagnosis includes:

  • Motoric restlessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Impulsiveness

However, these are but characteristics of students whzo are not engaged in the education process of schooling which approaches students as empty vessels to be filled, and is applied more by male therapists than female therapists.

The increased interest in ADHD in Germany is due to the jump of 381% in diagnosis from 1989 – 2001, but instead of looking at the education system, and the developments i.e. the learning environ, the students are considered to be the problem.  Instead of looking at the system of education, they look at the cost – German health insurance company Techniker “reports an increase of 30 percent in Methylphenidate prescriptions for its clients between the ages of 6 and 18. Similarly, the daily dosage has increased by 10 percent on average”.

Standardized Education

Schools today more so than in the past are an extension of state demands on the population. Schooling is a term used to describe modern standardized education, because of it has a factory dimension. If one has even worked in a factory, one gets the point on how soul destroying it is. What children learn according to education activist and former teacher, John Taylor Gatto is:

  • Massification vs. personalization
  • Uniformity vs. variety
  • Conformity vs. creativity
  • Fragmented vs. holistic
  • Theory vs. practice

One can decide for one’s self how true this is, but then one has to have a comparison or the scars to go with it. The result is:

  • A systematic approach by asserting that all students of the same age can learn one thing in one particular way causes harm (a feeling of  failure in one form or another).
  • All children are unnaturally forced to sit behind desks to absorb not learn as the learning environment has been eliminated in the process.
  • A child is forced to keep up in a class of up to 30 -50 other students is harmful (low self esteem, and likelihood of illiteracy).
  • The teacher is forced to control the classroom in a military like  fashion.
  • The teacher is expected to get the entire class through on a single method.
  • That single method is overly competitive setting up situations for intimidation, bullying, prejudice, humiliation, depravation.
  • A child is being forced to see the world through one particular view, which excludes their own view/experience
  • Everything a child does is monitored and directed.

The basis for Gatto’s summation of the situation in education today was as follows:

“I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.”

Does this sound familiar!

Just like cities, the individual in a large school loses their identity to something bigger and more demanding. It is impersonal and does not care about your potential or your likes and dislikes. The lack of familiarity breeds a community of strangers, which lead to the feeling of alienation, and being invalidated. Without that sense of belonging, in real terms there is nothing to really be accountable to except a series of laws and by-laws which do not even care if you as the pupil exists.

“Pupils will do things when they are not known, to people whom they do not know far more readily than they would to those whom they do know” is the conclusion of the 2002 Department for International Development report  “Towards Responsive Schools”

Boys and Schooling

With the increasing standardization of education the process of learning has become reduced to meeting standards that are devoid of the natural learning needs of students today. Schools have become less hands on, and more removed to become a mechanism of transferring “information” not knowledge from paper to the brains of children, which can be equated with programming computers. This is a natural result of the materialistic word we live in that approaches the human mind without involving the human spirit. Individuals are to fit into the system that is provided by their betters. This appraoch has extended its arm into kindergarten, whch on inception was about learning through play. Play, a vital experience in a child’s  development teaches self responsibility.

It does not take experts to tell us that boys are more physically active, and need more hands on experience to help evolve that energy through touch and movement. This taken out of the picture, leds to development problems further on in their education.

The American Academy for Educational Development in their 2005 “A Report in the Growing Crisis in Boys’ Education” found that:

• Boys were more likely to be referred to a school psychologist
• Boys represented 70% of the students with learning disabilities
• Boys represented 80% of the students with social and emotional disabilities
• Boys (particularly minorities) represented 70% of school suspensions
• Boys were behind 80% of the school violence, and were the main victims

What would have happened to Charles Darwin if he was schooled in such a manner! Born at a time when education was less controlled by the state, Darwin had his problems as a schoolboy:

“When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor low in it; and I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect. To my mortificationmy father once said to me, ” you care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family.” But my father was the kindest man I ever knew and whose memory I love with all my heart must have been angry and somewhat unjust when he used such words.”

All typical boys stuff that did not reflect his thirst for learning which was “put to sleep” by the schools he attended which practiced “Conformity vs. creativity,” something which our world leaders seem to be suffering from. Referring to one boarding school in particular:

“I could work into any subject. Much attention was paid to learning by heart the lessons of the previous day; this I could effect with great facility, learning fory or fifty lines of Virgil or Homer, whilst I was morning chapel; but this exercise ws utterly useless, for every verse was forgotten in forty-eight hours…

“The school as a means of education to me was simply a blank”.

Despite all the learning methods available in standardized education today, from paper to the brain is but a form of “learning by heart” becuase there is no direct contact with that information.

Darwin described himself as someone with…

“…strong and diversified tastes, much zeal for whatever interested me, and a keen pleasure in understanding any complex subject or thing.”

That thirst was met by a private tutor who taught Euclid

“I distinctly remember the intense satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs gave me.”

What would have become of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution incapsulated in the Origins of the Species, if he remained “asleep”!

Thankfully, his wise father took him out of school quite early, which might have had legal repercussions today.

Today we have the magnificent tool of neuroscience which provides verifiable evidence on how we truely relate to external stimuli. They have proven that the neurotransmitter in our physiological make-up, dopamine. Dopamine is crucial to to the way in which our brain controls our movements, but it is also extremely active in:

  • Memory
  • Attention and problem-solving tasks

And when released into our system is active in the way we experience enjoyment, and to be motivated to do something.  Dopamine is released when the experience is deeply rewarding. So if the learning process is not rewarding in any way, what can we expect!

Students are more able to understand what they learn if they play  crucil role in figuring it out for themselves,  when they have the God-given gift of choice. If there is one single reason why ADHD is on the increase around the world, look to the system of education, not the child!


Darwin, C. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin.”

Gatto. J.T. “Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why.”

Katrin Bruchmüller, Jürgen Margraf, Silvia Schneider. Is ADHD diagnosed in accord with diagnostic criteria? Overdiagnosis and influence of client gender on diagnosis.. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2012; 80 (1): 128 DOI: 10.1037/a0026582

Willis, J. “The Neuroscience of JoyfulEducation.” Summer 2007 | Volume 64 Engaging the Whole Child. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.…

Related Topic:

The Missing Link in the Education of Our Boys

Life Beyond Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Kids Who Get Out of Class Do Better in Class

Children Need the Outdoors Like Earth Needs Rain!

Knowledge Comes to Life Through Touch and Movement!

The Medicated Child

American Teachers: An Unhappy Lot!