About our obsession with labels

Almost every day I hear from parents, news and social media about children’s difficulties in school and generally in life.

It feels rather bizarre, but parents seem to feel relived when their children receive a diagnosis of ADHD, dyslexia, autism or other “neuro-developmental disorder”. It gives them an explanation for their children’s struggles and somehow reduces the pressure on performance.

This obsession with labels is now becoming the norm in schools and in our day to day conversations and children’s behaviour and academic performance is heavily analyzed.

Responsible for this is partly the science of psychology, which taught us to measure and analyze mental processes like attention,  memory, language, motivation, etc. and is forcing us all to compete and become “better and better” each day.

Nowadays, thousands of specialists around the world spend extensive time doing assessments in schools and hospitals, looking to cluster children in various categories based on ridiculous assumptions and expectations.

They force children to behave certain ways and push them fit into a specific profile. When they don’t, children are considered having cognitive deficits and are put under more pressure to “improve’ and “perform”.

At no point the school, the families and the society at a large has decided to take a break and ask if this standardization is helping children become happy and fulfilled adults. I am personally yet to see a clear and convincing connection between performance in school and later success or happiness in life and I cannot see how fitting a profile helps people achieve or maintain a sense of wellbeing.

The reality I am seeing very clearly is that, as long as children are molded into what they are not, they will disconnect from their real selves and will accumulate high levels of frustration, insecurity and fear.

Children will lose sense of who they are and will focus all their attention on becoming who the adults running the world are telling them to be.

In the end, everybody is at a loss. Parents waste their lives trying to create the perfect children out of their offsprings. School is wasting extraordinary resources trying to create an universal pupil, stuffed with unnecessary scientific knowledge, but lacking basic understanding of life.

The society as a whole is losing in time, money, human pain and suffering, and all these because of our obsession with labels and categorizations.

I wonder what would the outcome be if we invested our time to teach our children about self-care, self-compassion, acceptance and tolerance? What if instead of searching for differences that lead to labels like ADHD and dyslexia we would focus on similarities and unite children in their wonderful beings?

How would the world look like if we could make school entertaining and informative and see children graduate with good knowledge of human relationships, great understanding of human mind and human nature, feeling happier and more fulfilled?

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