The end of the first semester. Paper submission. I remember those crazy weeks… The time when your only home is library, when your best friends are books, when you are like Duracell Bunny, is impossible to forget. Joking apart, one can notice the same picture in many universities around the world. In order to pass examination or write excellent paper students spend days and nights cramming for tonnes of lectures, books, or looking for appropriate materials. The workload is so heavy that they resort to coffee, drinks like Red Bull or more recent tendency – so-called smart drugs.
If you watched the movie Limitless, you might be amazed thinking how dramatically one small cognitive-enhancing drug changed main character into the most intelligent person. Now this is no longer a fantasy. To combat their fatigue, to boost their academic performance, to improve their memory students found one decision – modafinil (name of a pill). As far as I know, this is not a case for Kazakhstan, however, in the USA and the UK this problem fuels hot discussions among researchers and educators. Modafinil’s original prescription is for people with narcolepsy, people who are always asleep. Dr. Barbara J. Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine in Cambridge, estimated that 90 percent of modafinil’s use is off-label, meaning that a doctor has prescribed it for other than its official purpose (Sparks, 2012, p. 16). It is quite clear that modafinil’s indications for use, i.e. “a sensation of natural wakefulness for hours at a time, without the jittery buzz and disrupted sleep” (Taylor, 2013), are perfectly suitable for the students who want to be those Duracell Bunnies. It is necessary to mention also that these brain-boosters are easily available on the internet. Such easy online selling is more likely to flourish ‘smart drug’ tendency among youngsters. Despite youth finds these pills helpful, they should remember that pills have only temporary effect. More important, as every coin has its flip side, ‘marvel pill’ is certainly to have its own. Alas, there is a finite research on the side-effects of smart drugs. Probably, illegal online selling, students’ fear or reluctance to confess or something else impedes research in this direction.
By and large, this question remains more than serious nowadays. In their race for ‘A’ grades, ‘pass’ in the examination, some students use smart drugs to sustain their active condition. As there is no concrete evidence what damage smart pills could bring, researchers and educators continue speculating on this issue. At the end of this post I propose you to enjoy a panel discussion on the topic “Are the drugs the answer to learning languages?”
And what do you think about it? Is it normal for students to take cognitive-enhancers during study? Would you try one before exam? Would you take a pill to perfectly know languages?
Sparks, Sarah. (2012, October, 16-17). “Smart pills” promising, problematic. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2012/10/24/index.html
Taylor, Ph. (2013). It’s exam time! Can smart drugs make you smarter at this testing time? [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.cmfblog.org.uk/2013/05/15/its-exam-time-can-smart-drugs-make-you-smarter-at-this-testing-time/