The education system is failing us

By Alfredo Violante Widmer

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Ruby from the Cynics talks about her experience in dealing with ADHD at school and the importance to share our experiences so that we never feel alone.

Ruby: If you ask the majority of teenagers today whether they like going to school, the most likely response you would receive would be, no. The one lesson that I took from my eleven years in school was the need to reform our education system. I was always a pretty good student until I started secondary school. Sitting in a classroom amongst twenty-nine other students, for the first time, became a big challenge. I would find myself building in frustration and restlessness, feeling as though the four, grey walls were closing in on me. By year eight, I found myself getting into more and more trouble and receiving frequent punishments. It was at this point that I started self-harming because the physical pain was a feeling that I could comprehend. I was unaware at the time.

At the age of fourteen, after being labelled naughty, attention-seeking and selfish for two years, I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD. Regardless of that, the school refused to accept that I wasn’t choosing to be this way. I continued to get detention after detention, sent out of at least one lesson a day, numerous occasions in isolation and put on behaviour reports with inclusion officers from the council. 

In year nine, I realised that things weren’t going to get any better unless I moved to a new school. However, by the second day, I had already been temporally excluded. A few months in, after several more suspensions, the head of the year believed that there was more to the picture, and if there wasn’t, then they said that I wouldn’t be able to stay at the school. 

At the end of the same year, I was also diagnosed with ADHD, and I began taking medication. There are conflicting opinions on taking medication; however, I found that they really did help me feel better. But better still wasn’t good enough for them, and at the end of year ten, I was kicked out of the school. 

Fortunately, I was able to find a college that understood me. I needed to be in an environment where confidence is more important than conformity and obedience. From this experience, I have developed a determination to try and make a change. At my lowest points, one thing keeping me going was music. There is no better feeling than being amongst a crowd of people all singing the same words, at a live gig. To be able to have the same impact on other people, just like my favourite bands have done for me, is what I want more than anything. 

If even one person were to listen to my band and made them feel as though they aren’t alone – that would be incredible!

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