Are We Dumbing Down our Innovators of Tomorrow?


I was just reading that nearly one in five American high school students has been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD. And how do we treat these kids who have trouble focusing? We dope them up with amphetamines – enough for every man, woman, and child in America to consume more than 80 doses of stimulants a year.

Is it just me or is that completely nuts?

Funny thing is, I don’t find any of this even the slightest bit surprising. It’s not as if we adults have proven capable of taking care of ourselves, let alone our kids. We’re all way too busy dealing with our own addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, reality TV, gadgets, buying stuff, Facebook, and Twitter.

So what if we treat kids who have trouble concentrating on their homework or are a bit disruptive in class as if there’s something terribly wrong with them and give them mega doses of speed?

I’ll tell you what. We’re potentially destroying the next generation of American leaders and innovators.

The situation with ADHD is bad enough, but this goes way beyond that. Let’s be clear about what we’re doing here. We’re essentially attempting to normalize our youth. And by doing that, we’re probably dampening whatever it is that makes them special, unique, and gifted.

Or am I to believe that nobody gets the connection between kids who are different and adults who are different – in a good way.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts? You don’t think for a minute that so many famously successful business leaders and innovators are just eccentric, do you?

If you’ll allow me to play amateur shrink for a moment, it wouldn’t be a big stretch to suggest that Gates may have Asperger’s Syndrome, Jobs was a raging control freak, Ellison is an adrenaline junky, Marissa Mayer is narcissistic, Larry Page is painfully introverted, and who knows what the heck is wrong with Zuckerberg.

Don’t even get me started on the hundreds of brilliant and talented people who have suffered from depression and other disorders.

What if their parents had normalized, anesthetized, and stigmatized them? Would there be no Apple, Google, or Microsoft, three of the most valuable companies in America? Would the world have been deprived of Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Isaac Newton, Mark Twain, Vincent Van Gogh, and who knows how many others?

If you stop and think about it, some of our greatest scientific advances, companies,technologies, products, philosophies, books, music, works of art, and maybe even nations, exist because those who created them were different. And not just a little different. A lot different.

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