“Sit still with your eyes on me, and listen up everyone!” These are words told to children on a daily basis while attending elementary school. Why is it that these expectations exist among parents, caregivers and education system child? Why is it that the repercussions of defying this obedient nature are led to be a diagnosis of behavioural disorders such as ADHD? Social norms have constructed the nature of being anything other than an obedient child as deviant. ADHD has been the label to medicalize the act of not fitting in to the societal expectations of the good child. This research paper will explore how ADHD in school-aged children has been historically and socially constructed, with a reconstructive analysis to follow.
Knowledge, Power and the Self
Children in school are governed by the education system believing that any deviant behaviour is associated with the child as an individual rather than the school.
Foote and Frank (1999) speak on Foucault’s belief that the way we do things depends on a production of discourses that serve to justify and give reason to why we do such things. In school, if a teacher notices a child acting a certain why, perhaps not paying attention in class, disrupting their class mates, or the inability to sit still they will automatically assume something is wrong with the child. This could potentially lead to asking the child’s parents to get them tested for behavioural disorders like ADHD. The reason behind this reaction is because of the teacher’s power over the child in society with them being conditioned to believe this knowledge of the hyperactive child. Journalists, Shrag and Divoky in Smith’s novel expressed that “the tools used to identify, diagnose and treat hyperactivity ‘all serve ...
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...f disadvantage in communities affected by the ADHD phenomenon” (p. 130). It is clear that with this label, societal repercussions include stigma, since any type of unnatural “disorder” are deemed not normal. In Cooper’s critique of the ‘factory model’ in school systems in, it is argued that:
A key problem with the DSM diagnostic criteria is that they take for granted assumptions about kinds of pupil behaviours that are to be expected in properly functioning classrooms. Pupils are expected from an early age to internalize and behave in accordance with a set of rules that derive from constraints imposed by a teacher-centred, curriculum focused method of teaching pupils in age-related groups. Pupils therefore are required to be excerpt in following complex instructions and internalizing behavioural and cognitive routine. (As cited in Lloyd, Stead & Cohen, 2006, p. 222)
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