Drugs and Learning

Drugs and Learning. NOT a Happy Relationship

Doing drugs is an accepted way of life for many high school students. A weed-weekend is often as common as traditional weekend of snowboarding or going to visit Aunt Mary used to be.

Hearing students talk about a “420-Friendly” party with the same nonchalance as if it were a fifteenth birthday party is rather disconcerting, and even quite scary. Their misconceptions about the powerful influence that the psychological or physical dependence on drugs reaffirms the ignorance they have about the results of their actions.

As a classroom teacher in five decades, there are some things that don’t change.

Often I’ve had the same students for both a morning and an afternoon class. It’s amazing, but not surprising, the obvious change in attitudes and actions for those students between the early and late classes, especially if lunch had a joint for dessert rather than a piece of Mom’s apple pie.

What’s almost laughable (if it weren’t so serious) is that they think nobody can tell the difference.

Though I haven’t done formal research, it’s intuitively obvious that attention spans decrease, talkativeness either increases or decreases depending on the drug of choice, and physical appearance often sends the signal of a happy-time lunch.

Simply stated, learning efficiency and retention levels both get smacked right in the head. As a result, grades go down, motivation decreases… but interestingly, the drugs frequently produce a “who cares” attitude.

But Ah, Ha!

There’s an equally insidious killer of quality even more rampant in our schools, but with even more disastrous results when it comes to learning.

Cell phones and the death of critical thinking.

I call them EED’s, those terrible Electronic Entertainment Devices. Terrible, yet so amazingly enjoyable.

Cell phones, mp3 players, video players and video games all hold the double-edged sword of great function yet disabling distraction.

When I tell my students, “I’m glad I’m not you.” they think I’m either mean or kidding. When I explain how hard it would have been for me to pay attention in high school if all those electronic devices had been available, they understand.

They understand, they agree, and they stay enjoyably on the path of multitasking their way to mediocrity.

Some suggestions for curtailing the use of these EED’s are as follows.

  • Confiscate the offending device. The kid gets it back only on eBay.
  • Call the parent on the phone and tell them to expect it in the mail… postage due.
  • Clip the earphone wires with your needle nose pliers.
  • Trade your old boom-box for the new iPod.
  • Put the EED in storage until the technology is no longer state-of-the-art.

Oh, wait, I forgot. We live in this age of “student rights” and to inflict any sort of natural or severe consequence would initiate some form of action from a group that is there to protect almost any civil liberty.

Finally, the challenge isn’t necessarily how do we get rid of these devices, but how to we minimize their distraction and turn their use into a positive learning event.

Any suggestions?

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