Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Functional Illiteracy

While everybody learning to read is a worthwhile goal.  Yea Reading!   I question the timing of the goal in educational settings and I question the value of forced literacy given the digital age we live in.  But I wanted to examine the intense pressure we place on individuals who for whatever reason can't read and the underlying realties faced by people who are illiterate in a society that is based on the power of the written word.

I mention this because my hand writing is pretty much illegable - and that's if I am focused and really working hard.  Forget reading a note from me if I am busy or in a hurry.  Reading for me is a well won prize - but not when I am doing something else like say driving.  Many a time have I been lost from not being able to read the road signs because the driving needed to be focused on.  I prefer to have a navigator and I avoid a cell phones in the car like the plague...  I have always been convinced that they are too much of a distraction.

Literacy for me is based on two things desire and access to successful readers.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that successful young readers are more likely to have parents who read books in the house.   Children copy what they are exposed too and we know that.   We recognize that literacy in the United Sates is no longer in question.  The question is how will be behave towards those who can not or will not be taught to read or write.

I am a big fan of literacy campaigns and giving books away as much as the next fellow...  But can we get over any shame or embarrassment at being unable to read or write.  Maybe we could just assume that if some one can't write - it's not from a lack of trying.  That if some one can't read - it's not for want of desire.  Let us treat those left behind in the literacy wars as battlefield casualties.   Exempt form the needs of service they are the handicapped few who can with distinction serve our country or our people in other ways without the need to ever pickup a book, fill out a form or test.


Unknown said...

I now think of myself as fully literate, but for much of my life I would have classifide myself as functionally illiterate. Knowing how to servive not reading is a skill that isn't easily mastered. As a kid, I had enough savy to find ways to get buy. Still I often see other dyslexic's that were either less cunning or more discouraged who are falling into the disfunctionally illiterate pile. It would be good is some amount of "special education" geared towards dyslexic children and other non-readers was geared towards learning how to function without reading.

ll13595 said...

liked the post keep up the good work