Did you know that 1 our of 4 high school graduates lack basic skills in reading and math? That's 25% of our society. But that number doesn't take into account the massive amount of people who dropped out before reaching graduation. Their skill levels are even lower.
I learned these startling facts yesterday when I attended my first training session to become a literacy tutor through our county library system.
Most illiterate adults have learned over the years how to mask their inability. They've gotten pretty good at covering up the fact that they have a low literacy level. So imagine for a moment what it must be like, to be an adult who can't read...
* You can't read a ballot, so you never vote.
* You can't write out a check, so you always deal in cash.
* Your child gets sick and you can't read the package labels to know what will make them feel better.
I also learned yesterday that most of the adults who seek literacy tutoring read at a fourth grade level. That's because our way of teaching children changes in the fourth grade. Prior to that, children are learning to read. In fourth grade, they start reading to learn: reading becomes the basis for learning history, science, math, etc. That's when some children begin to fall behind, and start learning ways to disguise the fact that they can't read.
I'm an avid reader: books, magazines, newspapers, blogs -- you name it. So it's hard for me to imagine how isolating life would feel if I couldn't read. I hope I can help change this for a few adults I'll be tutoring, once I'm fully trained. They won't turn me loose until sometime in July, which is a good thing because right now, I have no idea how to teach someone to read! I asked about that yesterday: I have no teaching experience - can I be an effective tutor? The facilitator said all that's required is compassion.
When an adult has the courage to step forward and say, "Help me: I don't know how to read," I feel nothing but compassion. How about you?
Until next time...