The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society

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The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society
By Jonathan Kozol

Main Idea:The negative affects illiterate people have on themselves, their family and society. Supporting Details:
Illiterate people often do not understand the bills they receive and are not able to write the checks to pay them. They often are in the situation of signing documents that they do not understand (230). Illiterate citizens very seldom vote. They are not able make informed decisions based on serious printed information (228). Illiterate people can not travel freely. They are unable to read a traffic sign or street name and while they learn to recognize symbols, they can not manage street names that are unfamiliar (232). Summary:

Jonathan Kozol discusses in depth the negative effects that illiteracy has on everyone. Illiteracy is unfortunately a common problem today and usually is more prone in lower income families and is passed down through the generations. When your parents can not read or write, you grow up without the importance of being taught these skills and then the cycle of illiteracy continues. I can only imagine the shame and discomfort someone feels in not being able to read or write. When signing documents you have to trust that the person reading it to you is honest, or you will be signing something you do not understand. “A submerged sense of distrust becomes the consequence to a constant need to trust” (233), because you don’t have a choice.

The political aspect of not being able to read would be voting for someone because of the way they look and the commercials on television. Without being able to research and read about the candidates you are basically taking someone’s word for the truth. Envision the panic or fear of being lost traveling somewhere unfamiliar and not being able to read a map or street directions telling which way to go. The damaging effects of illiteracy not only cripple you financially but emotionally. “Even the loss of home and...
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