16 March 2011
Jonathan Kozol’s essay on The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society (1985) claims that based on the beliefs of Socrates and James Madison, illiteracy is a moral dilemma. Kozol supports this claim by speculating what a number of tragic outcomes could be as a result of illiteracy. His purpose is to show how a person’s daily life is affected negatively by being illiterate in order to prove that illiteracy in a broad sense is a moral dilemma. Kozol’s intended audience in writing this essay would be the public. The essay made me aware of how little I initially thought about this issue in the context in which he put it. Kozol made the dangers of illiteracy, in my eyes, very clear. Not being able to do everyday task that require one to read in order to know could be a very hard way to go about life. I can’t imagine not being able to read a menu in a restaurant, not being able to know what the side effects of a medication that I am taking are, or who to trust or not to trust when it comes to informing me of my rights or necessary deadlines for payment of bills that are due. To me living in this world being illiterate is like being sentenced to solitary confinement in prison. You are so limited in your daily movements about life because you cannot read; just like you are limited to daily movement because of your confinement. I hold heartedly agree with illiteracy being a moral issue in that how can it be just to allow people to miss out on all that is to be offered in life because illiteracy gives them no choice. Kozol states that choice, in almost all its facets, is diminished in the life of an illiterate adult. In this essay Kozol speculates just what he thinks the negative results are that stem from being illiterate. He tries to inform his audience of the normal daily tasks that are not able to be accomplished due to illiteracy and how subsequently, one may feel as though they are...