Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Pop a pill to get smarter

Following my last post on learning being a health issue, I neglected the whole smart drugs phenomenon. Mark Oehlert has written a great post referencing a thought provoking article in The Escapist by Lara Crigger - a selected quote gives you a flavour:

But what if, instead, we could simply pop a pill to become smarter? A medication that could make us more alert, sharpen our concentration - even make learning easier.

But here's the dirty little secret: The pills are out there, just prescribed for different conditions. Healthy individuals are secretly taking drugs that fix ailing hearts and help kids with ADHD sit still in class, to make themselves smarter. It's a trend called "cosmetic neurology," a term coined by Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. And it's the future of thought. After all, when it comes to being smarter, who wouldn't want an extra dose of genius?

I wonder how prevalent this is already amongst UK/European students? More than I imagine, no doubt.

And I wonder what the implications are going forward for fair assessment/examination and indeed equal opportunities legislation as those with access to these cognitive performance enhancers gain the advantage in the workplace.

As Mark reflects in his posting:

Can you imagine designing a course one that has a drug prescription as one of the design elements? What if the "D" Divide ends up not standing for digital but for drugs?

A stimulating or sobering thought - depending on your point of view.

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