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If you can, you can do what one person in five CANNOT do. Worldwide, one in three adults cannot read the simple words on this page in any language. But that may not be the worst of it. Younger groups in many societies are forming a growing percentage of illiterates. In 1977 Joe Fobes, deputy director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), estimated that, if the present trend continues, by 1985 the number of children six to twelve years old who do not go to school in Third World countries will reach about 134 million. Even in countries where more young people are going to school they seem to be learning less. In the United States parents have been known to sue school systems for graduating students who cannot read or fill out an ordinary job application form. What Is Happening to Education? In trying to account for what is happening to teaching and learning, the magazine U.S. News & World Report reviewed two decades of experimentation, during which billions of dollars were poured into improving one of the world’s biggest educational systems, that of the United States. Old -fashioned methods of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic we re largely abandoned in favor of “picture word” methods of learning. “New math” replaced the multiplication tables. In classrooms at Westport, Connecticut, students read Mad Magazine, listened to Beatles records and watched television. They made up their own courses: “Vampires Unlimited,” a study of horror stories meant to terrorize; “Whittle Your Way to a Bikini,” a dieting course; and a host of way-out subjects that only unguided teenagers could dream up. What was produced from this sort of “advanced” education? In a generation of twenty-six- to thirty-fiveyear-olds many are so uneducated they cannot compare prices in a grocery store, decipher a recipe in a cookbook or balance their checking account. Stung by criticisms, some schools and colleges have begun to discard “innovations” and swing back toward traditional goals and techniques. Educators are caught in a “chaotic swirl of pressures and trends” in a “tormented field where armies of theorists clash.” But part of the crop of illiterates produced are some of the teachers themselves. It is estimated that one in five teachers has not mastered the basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic well enough to teach. According to Reader’s Digest, a teacher given A’s and B’s at Portland State University in Oregon was too illiterate to teach kindergarten. With forty-two million pupils enrolled in public schools, where one in twenty teachers is assaulted by students, in an environment of racial strife, parental indifference, broken marriages, is it any wonder so many students turn to drunkenness, drugs, violence and crime? If you are a student, do you wonder if the prospects of getting an education are lost to you? They need not be. Consider these questions: Do you look upon school as business, not recreation? Do you appreciate that to learn well, school cannot be all fun? Will you be able to master at least one earning skill before you leave school? Has it been impressed upon you that the basics in education include reading (through phonetic drills), mathematics (without total dependence on a pocket calculator), history, geography, spelling, penmanship, composition, character, citizenship, courtesy and good manners? Do you appreciate that education that begins in school should continue on as a lifelong process beyond the classroom and the grades? To the extent that you answer Yes to questions like these, to that extent your prospects of getting a valuable education are not altogether lost. What counts most is your own attitude, determination and goals.