Illiteracy in the United States

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In today’s society, we receive news through reading blogs, twitter updates, facebook posts, and instant messages. Imagine if we couldn’t read, how would we be able to catch up with friends? How would we be able to know what’s going on in the world? We wouldn’t. Literacy is a necessary skill that we use everyday and take for granted. Literacy is a freedom that allows us to learn and expand our knowledge. Levels of low literacy contribute to poor health, lack of employability, and many more national issues. In the seventeenth century many settlers left their home countries, which had printing presses that were printing off books, to seek their fortune in America. Though they left these literate nations, they took their understanding and importance of literacy, and wanted to promote it in the new American colonies (Illiteracy: A National Dilemma 25). As for many, their motives for being literate were mostly religious reasons, but being literate was considered to be a valuable personal skill to possess (Illiteracy: A National Dilemma 25). Those who were literate were powerful figures in their community; people who were illiterate came to those who were literate to decipher messages for them. Literacy has been proven important in history when a person’s literacy was used to separate people, appoint positions of power, appease unrest and revolution, and used as a determining factor in deciding who had the right to vote after the civil war ended (8). In the 1950s, the nation learned that people who left school in the fourth and even the fifth grade could be illiterate (Illiteracy: A National Dilemma). These students may have left school because they felt that they were weak reading as it was or because the importance of education and literacy was never established. There are many variables that influence a person’s ability to read, one of them being bad methods. Bad methods are a direct contributing factor to person’s derisory literacy skills (4). If an individual does not have a strong base to build their literacy skills on, they are already at a disadvantage in the effort to become literate, and if they do not understand methods of how they are being taught to become literate, all is lost. Other possible causes of illiteracy include mental or emotional problems, immigration from foreign countries, ineffective teachers, or not being ready for when reading was taught. Another contributing factor to illiteracy in the United States are parents. A person’s illiteracy does not just begin with the way they are taught, but with their home life; a good deal of parents who are illiterate will have illiterate children (2), because the importance and advantages of being literate are not accentuated. Illiteracy follows a parent child pattern, in a constant cycle making it an inter-generational problem. A parent who is illiterate and does not take the necessary steps to help themselves become literate, does not comprehend the importance or value of literacy, and thus will install the same mentality and opinions of literacy into their children. Some common attributes children of illiterate parents have are poor achievement in school and dropping out of before completion (10). These children achieve poorly as a result to their literacy skills, and suffer from them. Because they are unable to read, they cannot read instructions on their assignments which results in getting bad grades, which leads them to feel inconsequential, thus making them feel discouraged, causing them to dropout of school before completing their education. A person’s environment also helps contribute to their illiteracy. As people, we are affected by our surroundings; it has been suggested that in a community where literacy is not valued, encouraged, supported, or embodied as a sufficient role within the community, is an illiterate community (Illiteracy: A National Dilemma), and is the ground problem of this whole national...
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