Jeremy Blachman, Are You Having Trouble Paying Attention to This Post?:
“I heard a story about someone at a fine law school that is thinking about starting to take Ritalin (or something like it). Apparently he feels like he hasn't been grasping the material as well as some of his classmates, and hopes that this will help him concentrate better and give him the competitive edge he needs. Or at least restore parity — he apparently says he knows lots of people taking it, and feels like it's not fair for them to get this drug-induced edge, and not him.”
Great. Something new that maybe I should be worrying about. I have no problem with people taking Ritalin if they have a genuine disorder — and know at least one serious person who genuinely believes he does have ADD and the drug helps him. I do worry that the disorder is over-diagnosed, and that some people will shop for doctors willing to prescribe stuff they might be better off without.
Mr. Blachman worries about the morality of it all, expressing dismay
“at the thought that we live in a world where this becomes a choice that people feel an incentive to make. That the pressure to succeed, the pressure to get the slightly higher grade, the pressure to go beyond what you can do on your own — is great enough that someone feels it's worth it to medicate themselves and try to correct for what is perhaps just a natural variation in attention span and concentration.”
Of course, from my point of view it's potentially an even more personal issue: what if I am part of the pressure-inducing problem? Am I helping create a generation of drug-dependant lawyers? I run a tough class, I push people, I demand precision. Would adopting a more touchy-feelie approach be healthier for students? And, just as important, which will be better for their eventual clients?
Perhaps comfortingly, though, as Mr. Blachman describes it, the main pressure seems to be competition with other students. So, so long as I'm even-handed in my pushiness…