"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Are Cognitive Enhancement drugs over perscribed?

So I had a fantastic weekend at TED x Sydney. It's not often I take time out of life to think about things beyond my world and situation. The event showcased scientists, professionals from the education and medical profession along with with talented musicians and artists. There were speakers with disabilities who highlighted the point that they live in the same world we do and often have similar jobs to able bodied people yet they are often treated so differently even when they don't want to be. Judy and Tim Sharpe were super inspiring and I would encourage you to watch their talk when it becomes available. They were the only talk that received a complete standing ovation from the audience.

I guess two of the speakers that stood out most to me were Neuroscienist Cyndi Weickert and Philosopher Nicole Vincent. It was so inspiring to hear about the advances into a cure for Schizophrenia from Cyndi. Her amazing journey and clearly passionate drive is seeking to really make a difference for suffers of this really debilitating mental illness. Nicole Vincent's talk on Cognitive Enhancement drugs has still got my brain thinking and I had a lively conversation with my colleagues today. These drugs may include Ritalin, sleeping pills and other stimulants that help you to focus or stay awake. She, like many others have some real concerns about the long term impact of these drugs on young and developing brains as well as consideration as to how these drugs might be giving some students an academic edge over others. This was something I
Image by bigstockphotos.com
hadn't really thought about. If an elite athlete took drugs to enhance their performance they would be stripped of their titles and shamed beyond all measure yet we have kids who take drugs to help them focus and learn whilst other students don't take any cognitive enhancing drugs. For some children who find that Ritalin does help them focus because they suffer from ADHD this can be a life saving gift for them but does this mean that they will have to take it for the rest of their lives in order to keep a job or function in life? As a stimulant it would be concerning the long term impact this might have on their body.

Image by bigstockphotos.com
For some academics and professionals who travel around the world to speak many take sleeping pills to help regulate their sleep patterns so they will be fresh to give talks. Are we getting to a stage where we need to take drugs in order to do our jobs? Is this ok? These were some of the arguments that Nicole pondered and I think that having a debate about this is essential or otherwise taking drugs for cognitive enhancement will become the norm. I don't have any real answers to these questions but I do think a debate about this is necessary and not one to be taken lightly.

Connecting with people outside the realm of education was great and broad networking is helping me stay current in terms of what different industries are facing at the moment and it also helps my general world view on a range of topics. Talking to people with experiences from a variety of industry backgrounds means they often come to topics with a slightly different perspective to mine. It's refreshing to look at something in a new way.

All in all I know that thinking outside the box can deliver new ways of approaching a problem or present a new perspective on a topic that once appeared so clear but now there may be different options to consider. I'm enjoying the mental stimulation and have been thinking of ways of incorporating some of the ideas that were presented at TED x Sydney into my classes and into conversation with family, friends, colleagues and students.

Try a TED talk with your class today.

Until next week,


No comments:

Post a Comment