MirageI agree, to a point. Wish I could agree 100%Sun Jun 3, 2012 02:2822.214.171.124I've been involved in reading programs a couple of times, despite my dyslexia. Actually, my dyslexia was what qualified me. The kids I was asked to help were dyslexic, and the idea was to have older dyslexics who were doing well mentor younger ones. It was very rewarding for me, and they did improve greatly despite the fact that I wasn't really given any guidelines either time. I do wonder sometimes if it was more rewarding for me than for them, though. After all, I was being held up to them as a success story. They were being told they were failures, which is something I had been spared. When informed that I had learning disabilities, my mother just stubbornly insisted I could and would get past them. Then she went out and bought books on anything she knew desperately want to read. I very was lucky. She could afford them.
Recently I've been seriously fretting over this and related issues, and I don't have any answers but the questions I have are increasingly disturbing. First let me say that I do consider reading to be a marvelous thing. It can break all sorts of chains mental, spiritual, and philosophical. It can literally lift a person out of the mud. It can increase economic opportunity. As I become increasingly disabled, and reading becomes harder for me again, I appreciate it ever more. To be illiterate in a Western nation is to be marginalized and powerless.
Here is the dark side of literacy. Literacy has always been a dividing line between classes. It used to be that if you could read you were either wealthy, or you were part of a religious school, or you were a merchant and could read and write a bit but mostly in the context of business. Occasionally you were a servant or slave of someone very wealthy. The emergence of the middle class, and the changing religious situation has altered that picture quite a bit in recent times, but generally not in a positive manner for the poor. Now on top of literacy we have computer and specifically internet literacy being the hallmark of "people who count." And so, we get this:
What happens to people who don't or can't use the internet? Well in the US, many colleges and universities now require students to apply online. Assuming they manage to do that at a library, they are often required to own a computer. Increasingly public school students are expected to have a computer and internet connection at home, and communicate with teachers from home. There are a whole lot of other obstacles. In this apartment complex, residents are pretty much expected to have email, and pressured to pay their rent online. I don't want to do that, and they really make it hard if you don't. Some complexes here require internet auto-pay, like a subscription. It's only going to get worse. I am really worried about the people here who are not wired and more worried about those who cannot read even if they were. I am still more worried about the great divide between different ethnicities and cultures as to how likely a person is to read and to have any internet access other than cellphone. Woe betide those who do not even have access to electricity or cellphones! But who cares, right? They are "backward," and deserve what happens to them, or so I keep hearing. On the internet. As difficult as it was to obtain literacy in the past, books did not require stable electricity or wireless connections.
Realistically, I don't think that we will ever have a world in which the majority of people can read and write at a 4th grade level. I do not think we will ever have a world in which over half of the people can reliably communicate via any sort of distance technology. I don't think we can fix that. I just don't. So we really really need to do something else. We need to recognize those have-nots are not necessarily backward, nor barbarians. They deserve an equal voice, and I worry that what little voice they had before they are losing fast. I wish I had some notion of what to do about that. I fear there is nothing that can be done, that we have reached some point of no return already.
Today we seem to confuse literacy with intelligence and importance. When I think of that I also remember that it is rather disputed whether or not Jesus Christ would have been literate. There is one tiny reference to Jesus writing, but it does not say what was written which shamed onlookers. I don't know if Jesus wrote or not, but there are a number of famous historical figures who were almost certainly illiterate. Lack of literacy does not mean lack of importance, lack of ideas, or even lack of words. How easily we forget.
We also forget that in history there have been some shameful incidents of literacy being used to crush conquered cultures, forcibly assimilate them, and help erase their oral history. Interesting link below. I don't know anything about the site other than that it seems to be rather enamored of the the Perennial Philosophy and purports to be an East-West religious tolerance site. It raises some disturbing points for me. Here is The Bugbear of Literacy:
- One of the greatest good deeds ... Baruch, Sat Jun 2 20:46is to volunteer to teach people to read. So much more important than TV. My teaching Hebrew is a special form of that. Shalom
- I agree, to a point. Wish I could agree 100% Mirage, Sun Jun 3 02:28
- Require internet auto-pay? Baruch, Sun Jun 3 09:14Yes, I wouldn't like that. I avoided auto-deposit of my paycheck until last year. The paper check kept getting deposited late! I don't allow any auto-withdrawls from my accounts (with the exception... more
- Am thinking of some others Mirage, Sun Jun 3 09:23Irish, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, for example. Many lost languages and many lost cultural history.