Lake WA 4Revision | Literacy | Psychology & Cognitive Science

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Lakeyta M. Lake English 101.002 Ms. Angela Kennedy November 5, 2010

The Importance of Literacy When I think about literacy I automatically think about one’s ability to read and/or write. But upon further research, I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t quite understand exactly what the meaning of the word was. So I took the time to break the word down so that I could fully understand it. Merriam-Webster.com defines literacy as “the quality or state of being literate”. I searched further. The site defines literate as, 1. “Educated, cultured, able to read and write” and 2. “An educated person, a person who can read and write”. I decided to search the word “illiterate” and the site defines it as “having little or no education, especially unable to read or write.” Literacy is very important if a person wants to be a successful learner and ultimately a contributing citizen of this country. Unfortunately, as important as it is, there are many who fall way below the curve. Illiteracy is a nationwide problem that needs to be corrected. Why is literacy a problem in our country? It is said that population and ethnic groups play an important role in America’s education trends. African Americans were more than 75% illiterate before the Civil War. It was only after the war that educational opportunities for African Americans became

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available. By the late 70’s the literacy gap between African Americans and Caucasians had decreased tremendously. Hispanic youth contributed to the low rates as well, mainly because they are learning English as a second language. I think that both African Americans and those of Hispanic background may play a large factor in illiteracy rates in America today, but considering the fact that they were denied so many educational opportunities, it makes sense. I also think that there are certain cities/states in this country that have been affected when it comes to literacy. Those states in the south, (i.e., Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia) have the highest rates when it comes to illiteracy and lack of education. My children and I lived in Memphis, TN for two years when I had to move there for work. The school system there has a program called “No Child Left Behind” which allows parents to transfer their children to a school outside of their district if the school is not up to par. Parents are invited to a citywide school fair where the schools within the public school system compete with each other like used car salesmen for business. They all have school report cards that are handed out to parents which includes the schools stats and their standardized test scores. It was explained to me that if you do not think that your child(ren) are receiving a quality education within their designated school, then you could have them bussed to another school still within the public school system that could offer your child a better education. Also, as part of the program, your child was entitled to free tutoring from one of many companies that offered tutoring at the expense of the public school district. It is important that children learn and become literate at a young age as most people who do not learn to read as youths often give up. They fear failure and become terrified of trying to learn so late in the game. They don’t understand that furthering /starting their education over will lead to better employment opportunities and maybe even a better life for them and their families. It also lets their children know the importance of education. Some say

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that only those who are going through some type of transition in their life are able to overcome this issue. Another group of individuals that contribute to the low literacy rates are those who are incarcerated. It is said that the prison population is the single highest concentration of illiterate adults in the United States. This may be the reason that so many released inmates re-enter the world and before too long, end up back in the system. I think that some of them want to do better but without the skills they need to do so, they end up right back where they started; back in the prison system. Today, youth do not seem to take literacy as seriously as they should. They don’t understand that once upon a time there were many of us who would have loved the opportunity to take advantage of what they take for granted. Literacy doesn’t just affect individuals as many may think. If fact, literacy affects our entire nation. Everyone should take it seriously. Studies show that 3 out of 4 individuals on welfare are illiterate. This is very hard on the economy. How likely is someone to become self sufficient if they are unable to complete an application? This is why it affects everyone.

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Literacy Interview: Q: A: Q: A:

Jana Jenkins, Educator

Can you define literacy? Literacy generally refers to a person’s ability to read and write. Do you agree that today’s youth is behind as is relates to literacy and if so, why? Unfortunately, yes, they are. Kids today are spoiled by technology. After elementary, it seems as if children are not expected to write like we did back in the day and this is a part of literacy. They are expected to do most of their work by computer and schools rarely even give out textbooks anymore. They text and the language that they use is incorrect and is making them lazy. I can’t tell you how may papers I’ve graded where I have had to subtract points because of the abbreviation and text language that these kids are using.

Q: A:

Why do you think America has such high illiteracy rates? I think that maybe it is a combination of education improving over the last twenty years and the lack of education opportunities that were available in the past. I think that it is hard for adults to impress upon their kids the importance of literacy and education if they are lacking themselves. For those parents who are trying to make it without an education, sure, they can tell their children how important it is. But for those that have settled for what they have without any intentions of trying to further themselves, it will more than likely become a never ending cycle.

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Literacy Interview: Q: A: Q: A:

Michelle Alamudun, Educator

Can you define literacy? Literacy is a person’s ability to read and write. Do you agree that today’s youth is behind as is relates to literacy and if so, why? Sadly, yes. I think this is because they don’t quite understand the importance of literacy and the role that it will play in the rest of their lives.

Q: A:

Why do you think America has such high illiteracy rates? I think that it is because in the past, there was not as much pressure to be educated and people didn’t realize that being educated would be as important as it is today. I know that for my parents and aunts and uncles, many of them didn’t go any further than middle school. I have found that if a child doesn’t read on a regular basis, they will lose what they have learned. They need to be given many opportunities to read and write. The problem is that most kids don’t want to do what they don’t consider to be fun or interesting and most kids don’t consider reading to be fun.

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Literacy Interview:

Charles Lake, Janitorial Supervisor

Q: A: Q: A:

What is literacy? Literacy is how well someone reads or writes. How has literacy affected your life? It has affected me because it wasn’t really important to my parents but in the end, it has determined the path that my life has taken.

Q: A:

Why wasn’t it important and how has your lack of literacy affected your life? They weren’t given the same opportunities as far as education goes. I was the first of 11 kids and I was made to work in the cotton fields. That was my job and to them school wasn’t important.

Q: A:

What have you taught your children? Not to do as I did but to do better. I have not been able to do my dream job because of my lack of education. The opportunities are endless for them.

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