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Old 09-11-2002, 01:17 AM   #1
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Adult Illiteracy

I know I don't post very often here in FYM. But this is something I just feel very about.

Tonight at work I had a customer who needed help getting started using one of the computers. It wasn't because she didn't know how to use the computer, but she said she needed help because she couldn't read or write. She wanted me to sit there and do everything for her. We charge an extra fee to do computer work for customers which she didn't want to pay, so she went and found another customer to help her use the computer. She isn't the first customer I've had who couldn't read or write either.

I'm not at the fact that she can't read or write. I'm because of all the people in her life, friends and family included that have done everything for her instead of HELPING her to learn to read and write.

I just can't understand how someone can go 30, 40, 50 years or more without knowing how to read or write in today's society. It is just sad to see people like this and makes me
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Old 09-11-2002, 02:02 AM   #2
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I agree with you ABEL totally on this. I will get my butt tanned for saying this, but how the hell do teachers allow a student go through years 3,4,5,6,7,8,9... all of them without learning??? it starts as a teacher's responsibility. The parents send their kids off to school thinking they are learning something, yet so many adults these days cannot read or write. Unless you leave school when you are 8 years old, I dont understand how it happens.

Oh, thats right, the teachers have large classes, cannot give specific attention to all 30 kids....Please. That may be true, but do you not notice that little Johnny and Mary cannot read or write? Can you not refer them to a tutor to help them catch up? Can you not say to the principal, I think there are some students who have fallen behiond the learning schedule I set, we need to fix this? Can you not ring ther kid's parents and say Johnny needs you to spend 30 minutes every afternoon teaching him the alphabet?

How many teachers do we have during our school years? None of them notice this? Seems like some poor kids miss so much due to incompetence? Then school ends, what does the family think of Johnny or Mary not being able to read or write? I guess by this stage poor Mary or Johnny have become adept at hiding this for fear of shame. "I'll drive, you can read the map", "Could you please write a shopping list, I'll check what groceries we need", "What does that sign say? My eyesight is getting worse!!".

The shame some must feel at not being able to either read or write must be great. To be an adult and have the fear of looking stupid for something they simply never learned is a great shame. I wonder how many adults are thought to be lacking in intelligence simply because they cannot grasp letters and words? Terrible shame it is.
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Old 09-11-2002, 02:07 AM   #3
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'Hey, I am no longer illiterate!'
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Old 09-11-2002, 02:10 AM   #4
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I think you two are totally off base and insensitve about this issue. Please, if these people had gone to school then they would know how to read and write. They 90% of the time didnt have the opurtunity like us to go to school and have the chance to learn. Also put yourself in their postion, how embarresing do you think it is to be in your middle age and not know how to read or write. This must be very tramatic and probably be very difficult to admit to others. Now ABEL your customer might just be a exception but just think how see must feel, not being able to read or write is like being blind or deaf (with the obvius difference of being able to change the fact). But i would have to say this is probably a sickness in the person, a fear of admiting it. Have a little compassion. And please dont try to blame teachers there isnt any teacher in their right mind that would concously ignore a student that couldnt read or write plus everyone of their teachers would have to ignore the fact. These people are very good at hiding it.
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Old 09-11-2002, 02:24 AM   #5
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Actually bonoman, I mentioned the shame and embarrassment they must feel a few times. I also dont believe that not everyone who cannot read and write never went to school. You guessed it at about 90% of them never did. Who knows the real figures. I find it rare to find an individual who never went to school. It is unfortunately a lot more common to find an illiterate adult. You also mistook what I said to be a total lack of compassion. Not the case matie.
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Old 09-11-2002, 02:56 AM   #6
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bonoman, I am not saying this to be insensitive...I understand that there are reasons beyond their control why they never learned to read or write...as I stated,
Quote:
I'm not at the fact that she can't read or write.
I just can't see how in today's society they can go on for so long without ever having to learn to read and write...how do they pay their bills? how do they fill out paperwork? how do they get around? how do they do so many other things that someone who can't read or write can't do? Obviously someone has to help them do these things.

Quote:
not being able to read or write is like being blind or deaf (with the obvius difference of being able to change the fact). But i would have to say this is probably a sickness in the person, a fear of admiting it
I don't think that not being able to read or write is like being blind or deaf at all, because as you said, you CAN change the fact that you can't read or write. Yes it is a handicap, but a preventable and CHANGEABLE one.

I also think more needs to be done in today's society about illiteracy.
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Old 09-11-2002, 03:39 AM   #7
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No child in today's schooling is just allowed to slip through. There are MAJOR intensive reading programs that those at risk children are put on. Schools in Australia intensively work with at risk children and no child slips through because there are 30 kids ina classroom.
State schools all have support staff who work specifically with those children. Most of them get extra one on one work every single day to improve their reading and writing skills.
There are exceptional, trained teachers who work with English as a Second language, Non English Speaking Background, Learning Difficulty and Reading Recovery children every single day, not to mention all the Literacy that regular classroom teachers do with them. Every child is assessed intensively and there is no way a child in a primary school would slip through without teachers knowing they can't read or write. It just does not happen.
If an adult has gone through life without learning basic reading and writing skills it is because they haven't been in school, and obviously have a lot of problems that go far beyond not knowing their ABC's.
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Old 09-11-2002, 06:19 AM   #8
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It is a shame when a child falls through the cracks.

Case in point: There was this kid that I went to school with that everyone liked...he had a lot of charisma, his peers liked him, his teachers liked him, he was a charming guy. However I ran into him at the store one day after graduation and was writing a check, and asked me how to spell "five." I thought it was kinda odd, because, while he was no genius, he always got decent grades. Come to find out later that he has a 3rd grade level reading ability. In hindsight, I'm guessing that he had a form of dyslexia, and the teachers didn't pick up on it. To compensate for his disablility, he used his charm to win favor with the teachers, who gave him passing grades, because he was such a sweet guy. They ended up doing more harm than good.
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Old 09-11-2002, 05:30 PM   #9
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Well, i have dealt with a lot of iliteracy in my family. I always help my grandmother out with her stuff because she never went to school because she ended up having to take care of her family when she was little. She didn't come to the states until she was in her thirties. She is really good at math (self taught) and she understands English but she can't read or write in either language. My mother didn't speak or read or write English. I started to introduce her little by little to basic English like going grocery shopping, she would tell me what to get in spanish and I would bring it back and respond to it in English. It's more of an embarrasing moment to them to admit they can't read or write. My grandmother however, is starting to accept it and has since been trying (a slow progress, but trying).
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Old 09-11-2002, 07:06 PM   #10
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The TDSB (toronto school board) hit an all time low at about 50 feet below rock bottom the other week. Not only do they keep cutting money from school but they are no longer allowed to fail students in courses or grades untiol high school. In my middle school you couldnt get a mark below 40% so your "feelings" wouldnt be hurt.They no longer keep kids behind in elementary school either. Some people in my grade (10) can barely read.
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Old 09-12-2002, 06:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cowgirl
No child in today's schooling is just allowed to slip through. There are MAJOR intensive reading programs that those at risk children are put on. Schools in Australia intensively work with at risk children and no child slips through because there are 30 kids ina classroom.
State schools all have support staff who work specifically with those children. Most of them get extra one on one work every single day to improve their reading and writing skills.
If an adult has gone through life without learning basic reading and writing skills it is because they haven't been in school, and obviously have a lot of problems that go far beyond not knowing their ABC's.
This may be true in Australia, but in the United States, where the incident that ABEL is talking about took place, doesn't really have these types of programs, and children are constantly falling through the cracks. It is not all that unusual for someone to graduate from high school and still be unable to read here. I'm glad that you have such programs in Australia,but you must remember that America's educational system is ranked pretty low among other industrialized nations.
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Old 09-12-2002, 05:27 PM   #12
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OK yes Australia's literacy recently has been proved to be one of the best in the world so I am talking about what I know and do.
So tell me, as I'm now interested, what funding goes into Education in the States?
Is it in fact that the teachers are not adequately trained, lack of staff and people in the jobs, or other reasons?
Perhaps some of those billions that are spent on making movies every year should be given to Education instead.
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Old 09-17-2002, 01:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem
I agree with you ABEL totally on this. I will get my butt tanned for saying this, but how the hell do teachers allow a student go through years 3,4,5,6,7,8,9... all of them without learning??? it starts as a teacher's responsibility. The parents send their kids off to school thinking they are learning something, yet so many adults these days cannot read or write. Unless you leave school when you are 8 years old, I dont understand how it happens.

Oh, thats right, the teachers have large classes, cannot give specific attention to all 30 kids....Please

I am a future teacher. I finish school in the spring. I can't wait to teach the Social Sciences to high school kids. I could not disagree with you more.

HOW THE HELL CAN A PARENT IGNORE HIS OR HER CHILD'S INABILITY TO READ?! It doesn't matter how many phone calls a teacher makes home unless a parent is willing to work with the teacher to help the student, progress will be slow. We are not miracle workers, we can hope that students will use the tools that we give them. We can not do the work for them. Do you know how much time goes into a lesson plan? Do you know how much you have to love what you do to be a teacher? Don't give me "Please"
While I agree it is it horrible that some students continue to stuggle with basic reading skills all their lives, it is not only the teachers' fault. To suggest this is just "passing the buck."
More programs are needed to help these students however school budgets continue to be cut every year. Illinois is facing a budget crisis this year. The need for teachers may be great but the budget to hire them is just not there. I won't turn this into a political debate by expanding on this but this is part of the problem.
What I would like people to think about is that illiteracy is not a problem that can be solved by one person. Pay attention to your kids, your neighbors kids, whoever. Read to them at a young age, encourage them to read as well. Support literacy campaigns and stop blaming, start helping.
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Old 09-17-2002, 03:14 AM   #14
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money is not the real issue, more and more money is spent every year, but money does not make problems disappear. many low-income sections of the US are plagued by hostile or apathetic learning environments, and unqualified teachers and staffs, while perfectly good programs are either poorly run or unutilized. meanwhile education standards continue to drop. private schools are extremely productive because they have to be, public education can range from excellent to average to downright terrible, and teachers' unions are highly culpable. but please remember, when considering anything regarding the US, that it's nearly impossible because of our size and diversity in geography, population, culture and income to bring uniformity to anything, whether it be educaton, culture, politics, income, etc.
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Old 09-17-2002, 03:33 AM   #15
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Thats fine you disagree WildHoneyAlways. I just dont happen to believe teachers are totally without blame, nor parents are totally without blame. Education starts at school in most academic situations. Anyone can only do so much to teach someone to read and write. It is a long process, takes years to master, and requires a certain amount of dedication on the student's part, and some with the parent AND teacher. I have no doubt you will be a good teacher. I have no doubt manda is a good teacher. I wouldn't really know, as I have never seen you guys in a classroom. Sadly though, great teachers are not as common as we would all like. Kids can slip through the cracks in many ways, and you can only be so diligent. I do wonder how at students who are found to have such basic English skills at such an advanced age. It does happen. To call 'blame' as such passing the buck to me seems a bit reactionary. Before any problem can be resolved, the cause must be identified. Too many teachers these days are without good enough resources, qualifications, over crowding, even funding. Combine that with a parent who does not seem to care, or does not listen, and you have these issues.
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