Coffee heat rising

Student Performance: Is there any question?

Lordie! Yesterday I went to a workshop on how to identify students who are high or drunk in class, and what to do about it.

Thought I was pretty wise to the use of dope and booze among the kiddies. Wrong!

One side makes you bigger...

Some of the stuff people ingest for “fun” defies belief. A psychologist who specializes in drugs and a counselor who also has worked in caring for people with substance abuse issues—both full-time employees of the college!—gave quite an eye-opening presentation, complete with three pages of drug images and descriptions and an explicit PowerPoint presentation (refreshing well done, for a change) on the symptoms of the various kinds of drugs and combinations thereof.

Combination is the operative term. They said few people use just one drug; most combine their dope of choice with alcohol. Indeed, the specific reason I selected this workshop was that last semester a kid who was occasionally given to belligerence showed up in my classroom at 9:30 in the morning reeking of beer.

Asked how many students in a community college classroom, at any given time, are likely to be abusing some kind of drug, legally purchased or not, they said the figure is about 50 percent.

Fifty percent of students in a college classroom are using something, often more than one something. Think of that. Substances range from meth to over-the-counter cold pills and nostrums.

Among the newer fads, we learned, is a hallucinogen called ayahuasca, a brain-banger from South America.

And, my friends, damned if on the way home I didn’t tune in NPR and hear an adulatory story about some troubled soul who found spiritual peace and enlightenment by trotting down to Peru and ingesting ayahuasca to the beat of a chanting “shaman.”

Says the fool, “I thought something was missing in my life, in walking through the world. I have this job I hate. I feel miserable all the time. Everything is small and just how I related to people, everything was very superficial.” After a lengthy course of mind-bending herbs under the tutelage of a self-styled “shaman” from Los Angeles, who has set up a curative “center” (no doubt highly profitable) near Iquitos, our hero finds enlightenment: “There’s not this gigantic weight on my shoulders anymore, and I can sit up straight and breathe normally and just be alive,” he says. “The world is a significantly brighter and more beautiful place now.”

Tra-la-la la-la!

This  medicament causes you to vomit violently while you squirt diarrhea out the other end. Indigenous people use one of its two ingredients to rid themselves of intestinal worms. It induces hallucinations that can leave you screaming for hours.

Google ayahuasca and what comes up is page after page of woo-woo, replete with terms like “sacred vine,” “enlightenment,” “spirit vine,” “extraordinary healing plant,” “consciousness expanding,” and similar bullsh!t. We are told that worthies such as Sting, David Icke, Tori Amos, and Paul Simon have held forth on the glories of this magical potion.

Heaven help us. Is it any wonder that half the kids sitting in a classroom are busy frying their brains with drugs? Is it any wonder university juniors and seniors think Wisconsin is a Rocky Mountain State?

What became of common sense in this country?

Image: Psilocybe Cubensis by Rohan523. GNU Free Documentation License.