Pills won't deal with social challenges

16th December 2011 at 00:00

Your feature on school children's capacity to pay attention ("The complex process of paying attention", TESpro, 9 December) is most notable for what it leaves out. The adoption of a relatively narrow, neuroscientifically informed viewpoint tends to generate vacuous observations like: "Research into drugs such as Ritalin suggests that they can improve attention ..." Yet in reality, such assertions tell us absolutely nothing about what "attention" consists in, and merely collude with a materialistic, "brain-centred" approach, the logic of which leads us to the nonsense of a pharmaceutical response to attentional difficulties that views messing about with brain chemistry as some kind of "solution" to what is quintessentially a social and relational challenge.

Dr Richard House, Senior lecturer, the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, Roehampton University.

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