Literacy And Your Child -- Your Child's Life Can Be Ruined If They Can't Read WellWritten by Joel Turtel
It may seem obvious to many people why literacy is so important in our technologically advanced society. However, many parents may not fully realize emotional pain and life-long damage illiteracy can cause their children. Literacy, ability to read well, is foundation of children’s education.
If children can’t read well, every subject they try to learn will frustrate them. If they can’t read math, history, or science textbooks, if they stumble over words, they will soon give up reading out of frustration. Asking children who are poor readers to study these subjects is like asking them to climb a rope with one arm.
Kids learn to read in their most formative years, which is why reading can profoundly affect their self-esteem. When children learn to read, they also start learning how to think abstractly, because words convey ideas and relationships between ideas. How well they read therefore affects children’s feelings about their ability to learn. This in turn affects how kids feel about themselves generally whether a child thinks he or she is stupid or bright. Children who struggle with reading often blame themselves and feel ashamed of themselves.
As Donald L. Nathanson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Jefferson Medical College noted: “First reading itself, and then whole education process, becomes so imbued with, stuffed with, amplified, magnified by shame that children can develop an aversion to everything that is education."
Often, poor readers will struggle just to graduate from high school. They can lose general confidence in themselves, and therefore confidence to try for college or pursue a career. Their job opportunities can dry up. Their poor reading skills and low self-confidence can strangle their ability to earn money. They can struggle financially their whole lives. If they marry and have children, they can struggle even more.
Life for illiterate adults can easily degenerate into misery, poverty, failure, and hopelessness. According to a 1992 study by National Institute for Literacy, “43 % of Americans with lowest literacy skills live in poverty and 70 % have no job or a part-time job. Only 5% of Americans with strong literacy skills live in poverty.”
As Dr. Grover Whitehurst, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Department of Education, said, “Reading is absolutely fundamental. It’s almost trite to say that. But in our society, inability to be fluent consigns children to failure in school and consigns adults to lowest strata of job and life opportunities.”
By 1850s, before we had compulsory, government-controlled public schools, child and adult literacy rates averaged over 90 percent, making illiteracy rates less than 10 percent. By 1850, literacy rates in Massachusetts and other New England States, for both men and women, was close to 97 percent. This was before Massachusetts created first compulsory public-school system in America in 1852. What is literacy like in our public schools today?
Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson Never Went To Public SchoolWritten by Joel Turtel
Most of our Founding Fathers, including Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, like most average colonial Americans, spent few years, if any, in formal grammar schools of day, yet they knew how to read and write well.
Most voluntary local grammar schools expected parents to teach their children to read and write before they started school. Most colonial parents apparently had no trouble teaching their children these skills.
At least ten of our presidents were home-schooled. James Madison’s mother taught him to read and write. John Quincy Adams was educated at home until he was twelve years old. At age fourteen, he entered Harvard. Abraham Lincoln, except for fifty weeks in a grammar school, learned at home from books he borrowed. He learned law by reading law books, and became an apprentice to a practicing lawyer in Illinois.
Other great Americans were similarly educated. John Rutledge, a chief justice of Supreme Court, was taught at home by his father until he was eleven years old. Patrick Henry, one our great Founding Fathers and governor of colonial Virginia, learned English grammar, Bible, history, French, Latin, Greek, and classics from his father.
Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, and Florence Nightingale were all taught at home by their mothers or fathers. John Jay was one of authors of Federalist Papers, a chief Justice of Supreme Court, and a governor of New York. His mother taught him reading, grammar, and Latin before he was eight years old. John Marshall, our first Supreme Court Chief Justice, was home-schooled by his father until age fourteen. Robert E. Lee, Thomas Stonewall Jackson, George Patton, and Douglas MacArthur were also educated at home. Booker T. Washington, helped by his mother, taught himself to read by using Noah Webster’s Blue Back Speller.