You know I've been reading about studies that have been done on the subject of memory and find it interesting that what we're finding is that the human memory doesn't work as the education system thinks it should.
The education system, at least in my neck of the woods, seems to be under the impression that you can just beat something into the brain, but recent research shows that's flat out not true. Where the schooling system believes that you can tie someone to a chair, repeat a bunch of boring information and then make the student regurgitate it under the threat of punishment the truth is that the memory is actually far more artistic than that.
Research is showing that simply trying to memorize something rarely works and when it does it doesn't work particularly well. It is far more likely that someone can remember something if that something was given to them in an artistic format such as a song, a rhyme or a story. Armed with this information it's far more likely that a person can learn more from an hour of the History channel than a year of school.
Personally I believe there is no such thing as ADHD, there is nothing wrong with the children, the problem is an education system that itself does not learn.
The education system has completely failed to apply any of the lessons learned from educational devices such as Leap Frog or shows like Sesame Street. It would seem that when it comes to our youngest students we're applying a few of the lessons learned through recent research, but older students are still subjected to the same archaic forms of education that we know full well do not work.
When it comes to ADHD the mistake we're making is trying to conform the person to our ideal of education rather than trying to conform our ideal of education to the person. You cannot change the manner in which a person learns, but we can change the manner in which we teach.
The biggest problem isn't that a student's mind tends to wander, but that the form of education is flat out boring and uninspiring. I find that I learn best when I'm learning what I want to learn and in a manner in which I want to learn it. For instance I rarely performed well in a mathematics course, but I'm actually pretty good at math. The thing is that I simply don't care to sit in a chair and have a bunch of seemingly useless numbers thrown at me, of course the formulas are not at all useless, but in such a situation they are.
I enjoy writing programs and when it comes to programming languages mathematics plays a major role. Where I don't care to sit and learn math I'm more than happy to write a computer application and learn the math as needed. The case here is that I enjoy programming and therefore enjoy learning not only how to program, but also the necessary requirements to meet whatever goals the application needs to reach.
There's no sense of accomplishment when simply learning a few math problems, but there is a great sense of accomplishment when applying those math problems to something I desire to create.
It is as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink it. You can strap a child to a chair, tape his eyes open a stick a text book in his face, but you can't make him read it. The horse will only drink when he's thirsty, so too will the child only learn when he needs and/or wants to learn.
We're giving our students failing grades, but in truth the student is not the failure. It is not they who are failing us, but we who are failing them.
P.S. When it comes to educational tools such as Leap Frog I think it obvious that older students aren't going to take terribly well to that type of entertainment. As we grow so too do our tastes, older students would respond well to something a bit more in-depth.
I find that any game has at least some educational value to it. A game such as Civilization, my personal favorite, teaches not only history, but also time and resource management. Strategy games can be excellent learning tools for future managers and even presidents. At the same time something with a bit more action such as a first person shooter can teach a little bit about resource management, but also teach about making quick decisions in the heat of the moment. An action game would be better suited for someone such as an emergency responder or even a doctor, someone who might often find themselves needing to make important decisions without the luxury of time.
In years past it was commonly believed that video games and television rot your brain, but I find quite the opposite is true. Entertainment can absolutely serve as one of the premier forms of education.