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ERIC Number: ED512973
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 296
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8981-7
Biomedicalizing Schoolroom Performances. Constructions of Attention Deficit Disorder and Reading Disability in the First Grade
Moss, John J.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz
This dissertation describes how the medical categories of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Reading Disability (RD) have become commonsense ways to understand educational problems. I explore historical precursors of ADD and RD followed by a report on fieldwork I conducted in a first grade classroom of mostly Latino and low-income children. I analyze of some rating scales used to diagnose ADD to show the normative assumptions this disorder imposes on children. Finally, I return to my field observations to describe two case studies: a boy who was diagnosed with ADD and a girl who was determined to have RD, both of which were diagnosed while I was in the field. These case studies are supplemented by data from 5 hour-long depth interviews of other first grade teachers. I show that early psychiatrists were eager to medicalize low school achievement and school disruption, but these psychiatric categories only became entrenched in schools after compulsory education was established. Today, these categories are always already existing frames to medicalize students who don't meet educators expectations in the classroom. My field observations suggest that the diagnosis of ADD could fit almost every first grade child I observed. This is unsurprising because the rating scales used to detect ADD assume that "normal" children should follow authorities instructions at all times. But data from my case studies shows that it was the three students who stood out in the classroom as consistently disruptive or who appeared consistently slower in school work that were eventually diagnosed. "Problem students" like these become sources of anger, frustration and worry to teachers, who are already under significant stress. These emotional reactions spurred teachers to "do something" in order to "help" the student when the teacher's efforts at education appeared to be failing. If appeals to parents doesn't solve the problem, teachers refer children and their parents to a committee of school authorities, which are called "school-based team meetings." The committee tends to focus on implementing new educational strategies and identifying health and psychological differences in children. Some of these children follow a pathway towards a diagnosis of ADD or RD. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A