Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learning to Read

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
~ Frederick Douglass


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...

13 comments:

Susie said...

Hi Patti,
Just stopping in again to catch up on your news. Looks like your trip up the coast was beautiful That's such a gorgeous part of our state.
Loved the Frederick Douglass quote..
I've always firmly believed that instilling the love of reading in our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Your tutoring is sure to make a huge difference in the lives of many..
hugs

Pokey said...

I think it takes a TREMENDOUS amount of courage. Reading is something that most of us take for granted, unfortunately.

It is awesome that you make helping others such a great priority :)

dadivastreet said...

There is no shame in not knowing or in asking for the help you need. Kudos for making a difference in someone's life!

Midlife Mom said...

I agree, kudos for making a difference in someone's life that will help them all the rest of their life! You go girl!

Needled Mom said...

That is a wonderful thing to do, Pattie. My mother was a teacher and tutored at the jails for years. She taught so many of them the very basic skills of reading and would share her stories with us. It is amazing what happens once they acquire the skill.

Kathy said...

What a wonderful project! They will be so lucky to have you.

Take One Stripper Pole said...

So glad to hear you will be one of the people helping to make the change. I work in high schools and it shocks me every day ... trust me.

Morah said...

Very interesting.... Learning to read and reading to learn! Very, very interesting. Good for you for making a difference in the lives of others! Good for you!

RunningNan said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing. You are going to thrive at it!

Manuela said...

What a terrific thing to do!

I've been reading since I can remember and can totally appreciate what your are doing (especially as someone who has a degree in Library Science and soon to be teacher).

Can't wait to hear more about the experience.

Scale Junkie said...

Lucky people to have you caring so much. I can't imagine my world without words it just seems like such a lonely place.

Nicole said...

Oh, how exciting!! The organization that I teach ESL through also teaches adult, native speakers to read. I'm so proud of you and happy for you! You will get more out of this experience than you give, trust me. It's so rewarding!!

jillytacy said...

This is fabulous Pattie! I'm so glad you are volunteering. You have the opportunity to touch many lives, changing them forever. I was a teacher before having my child. My suggestion is to think about what you do in the reading process and break it down into smaller steps. I worked in special ed so I'm a big believer in giving strategies that help you figure out how to read a word, etc. I've always found that to be helpful. Good luck I look forward to hearing more about your efforts.