How does the “ADHD label” justify the new epidemic of laziness in the American school system
Since 2003, ADHD diagnoses have been increasing, and more students in high school are placed on special accommodations doing much less work than regular students. In 2022, there was a significant increase in ADHD medication usage among 12th graders. [Jama]
Individualized programs for ADHD students are very helpful in helping them move forward. However, about a third of these students may be incorrectly diagnosed, and accommodations are encouraging even more laziness.
Approximately 1 million U.S. children may be misdiagnosed with ADHD, according to a Michigan State University economist’s research. This could explain why those allegedly with ADHD can focus on pleasurable activities, such as video games, but not on academics. [MSU]
1. ADHD: The broad stroke to justify laziness
It can be more than neurobiological
ADHD can stem from societal changes, teaching methods, or reduced outdoor activity. In other words, ADHD can be more than a neurobiological condition, according to Dr. Thomas Armstrong of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development.
In the past, students who did not do their homework or failed to study were called lazy, but today, ADHD appears to have become the broad stroke to label poor academic performance.
ADHD students struggle with motivation. They are easily distracted and usually chronic procrastinators. But interestingly, they have the ability to focus on video games and be on the dot for pleasurable activities.
Not everyone is an Einstein with a quirky brain
There have been countless ADHD students, because their brains are wired differently, turned out to be geniuses. These students find academic discipline boring and useless. But not everyone is an Elon Musk or Albert Einstein.
Therefore, the issue is not whether they’re smart or not but following simple class rules, such as submitting work on time.
The controversial Milgram experiment illustrates that individuals tend to comply with authority figures, even when it contradicts their personal conscience.
ADHD is rare in Asian countries
Asian American kids now rank higher than Americans in math and science. Asians excel and take on more responsibilities than any other racial group, the reason they have better academic performance and can get better jobs.
A study of U.S. children across ethnic and racial groups found that Asians were least likely to receive therapy for ADHD, compared with White children – who had the highest odds of getting some treatment over other groups. [M.D. Edge]
Respect for authority is ingrained in Asian culture. Hence, most Asian kids, especially those from conservative families, tend to follow teachers’ instructions diligently and do better in class.
These kids not only fear their parents, but filial piety runs deep in nearly every Asian country. Hence, Asians excel not because they’re smarter but because they’re more submissive to authority.
Racial Disparities of ADHD or Learning Disabilities:
Black children – 17%
White children – 15%
Hispanic children – 12%
Asian children – 6%
2. Downgrading curriculum to accommodate the growing number of ADHD
Special classes for ADHD students
A 2022 “Character survey” and Harris Poll revealed high levels of dishonesty, disrespect, and laziness among kids today. Most of these kids are diagnosed with ADHD and are placed in special classes with lowered academic standards.
In a special education class, most students have low motivation and have difficulty focusing or submitting class work on time. However, they become highly motivated when playing video games or using interactive quiz apps like Quizlet or Kahoot.
In other words, they focus well on pleasurable things—just as the rest of us would if there were no consequences—such as losing our job.
Therefore, more often than not, the issue lies in perseverance, which can be addressed through discipline, not more accommodations or entitlements.
Accommodations and entitlement
The American high school curriculum has been adjusted over time to make learning fun and easier. In Asia, not only does the curriculum have higher standards, but class hours are also longer with fewer accommodations.
In most Asian colleges, the minimum number of required units is 21, compared to 16 in the United States. However, despite these accommodations, more students in the USA continue to perform much poorly than Asian immigrants.
College readiness has also been declining even before the pandemic. [ACT 2019]
The point is that lowering curriculum standards has led to even more laziness. After all, kids are smart to know they will pass with “minimal effort.” Along with other “benefits,” the leeway given to students to solve high failing rates is not working.
3. No-fail policy and blaming budget deficit
The Philippines’ Department of Education rejected the “No Fail Policy” pushed by liberal groups because it would undermine student motivation. The same approach is common in other Asian countries.
In the USA, schools have no choice but to pass students by all means possible to maintain budget funding.
The “No-fail policy” or “social promotion policy” in high schools contributes to laziness as it exempts students from effective accountability. It’s an incentive that demotivates students to study harder because they know they will pass regardless.
Asia’s emphasis on discipline and instituting fear of repeating grade levels helps counter laziness.
Low-rated schools cite budget constraints as a primary factor in consistently producing underperforming students. Ironically,
4. More rights and privileges are pushing back discipline
Many students diagnosed with ADHD can focus well on pleasurable things, such as video games or using social media. These are not symptoms of attention disorder but a lack of discipline.
For example, if a student struggles with listening to the teacher, a common solution is “time-out.” Perhaps the student is having mental anxiety that he cannot control. But in most of Asia, teachers address the issue with a stern warning.
Innovations or deterioration?
The education system continues to evolve, with shifts toward shorter class hours and “no homework” policies. These are supposed to be innovation that replaces outdated traditional strategies.
In China and India, longer study hours and rote memorization are widespread, but not in the USA, where it’s outdated. Maybe so, but rote memorization develops focus and discipline.
In college, professors will dump a lot of reading and assignments.
Teachers have feelings too
As much as teachers would want to enforce discipline, more of them are discouraged and demoralized by a growing culture of disrespectful students. A 2023 survey indicates student misbehavior continues to rise. [EdW]
Today, it is common for some public high schools to stand up, respect, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance or allow female students to wear revealing clothes and not get in trouble for it. Standing for the flag in Asia is mandatory, and school uniforms are enforced.
How can we expect American kids to respect the teacher’s authority?
The shift in authority in American schools, granting more individual choice and autonomy to students, can lead to failure in maintaining discipline, which, in turn, contributes to poor academic outcomes.
Understandably, all these are rooted in America’s constitution, where individuality, rights, and freedom are more important than an institution.
In other words, individuality is more important than submission, and feelings are more important than discipline.
Correlation between ADHD and Laziness in the Bible
The epidemic of laziness has been constant in all of human history, and the Bible labels unmotivated, or people who refuse responsibility with a “downcast soul,” a sluggard, or simply lazy.
Laziness is a sin—the reason there are at least 21 chapters that rebuke “unmotivated people.”
He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.