February 6, 2004

American Literacy... I really enjoyed this article on literacy. Serona and I often discuss how sad it is that the level of reading has decreased so much over the years. I look back on readers from 100 years ago and realize that they were able to read so much more than us and it was just expected. I look at the readers our kids have now and I am amazed. One of my email groups recently had a discussion about "twaddle" and I really share the sentiment. It is often hard to find good children's books.

This article does a nice job outlining some statistics about literacy now and in past history. It is worth the read. Here is a good point:

"One might also consider other contemporary evidence - Tom Paine's Common Sense for example. At the time of The Declaration of Independence the population of the thirteen colonies was about three million, counting slaves and indentured servants. Paine's pamphlet is estimated to have been read by 1,000,000 people, half of the adult free population at the time. Today it's considered difficult for high school students."

We can't even get people to watch presidential debates and the State of the Union on television! Much less ask them to read something like "Common Sense". The article closes with this quote:

"To learn to read fluently takes about 30 contact hours ... the only way to stop a child from reading and liking it in a literate environment is to teach it the way we teach it." John Taylor Gatto, multiple recipient of Teacher of the Year Awards for New York City and New York State.

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