AMERICAN LITERACY STATISTICS ARE CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Most who stop to think about it, and certainly professionals in education and psychology, know language and thinking are directly linked. Vocabulary represents “ideas” we handle and manipulate in our minds. For those who have not realized it, we each have “different” vocabulary sets: one for reading, one for writing, one for speaking, and one for listening. Each set shares a lot of the same words, but each also has some that only are “available” during reading, listening, speaking or writing.
In any case, the important point here is that size of vocabulary (in any of the sets) varies with experience and training. All indidividuals have capacity to logic and reason, but not everyone has the same “size” or “amount” of ideas available for use in logic and reasoning. Many complex ideas are suggested by use of a single word. “Freedom” is such a word; Justice is another. A thinker who has explored either of these words with lots of questions, reading, and listening, will better understand complexities of the concepts of Freedom and Justice, than a person who has only experienced these words as “cartoons” of simplistic meaning.
Whatever good develops for us as a democracy will reflect our ability to think about complicated issues without coming up with over-simplified solution.
The link below will take you to a fellow citizen post on literacy statistics, and will give you opportunity to read thoughts of those who have added comment. The post also cites the source of the statistics offered.
Our fellow citizens – the few posting at this link – do a creditable job in exploring some of what our “failing” literacy means, where it might be ‘coming from’, etc. Their discussion is “ordinary kitchen table variety”, but good. Perhaps reading this will let you bring up the topic in your family or community — I hope so!!
New link found today is here: America’s Grim Literacy Statistics. In addition: browsing for ‘american illiteracy statistics 2011’ may bring more.
Note on ’causes’ of illiteracy: I note titles when browsing that may emphasize non-English home language, obviously this would contribute much to lack of literacy. But my teaching experience (in a high needs school) did not have that factor. Another ‘tired’ argument that may show up is ‘phonics vs sight reading’- some people (all ages) are more inclined to learn audibly, some visually – a blend of phonics and ‘sight words’ worked best at our school. The biggest factor was exposure, including parental involvement such as reading with children at home, time away from strictly image-driven activities such as television and other video. At school, all learning ‘strategies’ applied: exposure, encouragement, activities that included both reading and writing, including journals that were not ‘marked’ but gave practice. Our school developed a number of ‘family service’ programs that kept parents involved generally and gave them opportunity to contribute to school community, regardless of their ‘formal’ training. In addition, parents were given non-technical information (pamphlets, etc.) that offered at-home ideas for increasing a child’s language facility.
My comment: the popular bashing of today’s education treats “education” as if it “just happened” while we weren’t watching. We like to take an “it’s those guys fault” approach. I suggest any shortfalls in education have developed because we were not watching!
My Best to All — MaggieAnn