THANKS to George Thompson for his information (which nevertheless leaves me
with a question or two). He writes:
>Very few people considered illiterate are completely illiterate--ie.
>can't read at all. Most are what is termed "functionally" illiterate.
>That is, they can read some things, like STOP signs, common words of four
>to five characters that appear frequently in print--sale, for rent,
>etc.--but they cannot read anything more complex such as a newspaper.
>Literacy programs are generally directed at them and advertised in this
>way because functional illiterates are reasonably easy to teach since
>they can already read some things. But they are hard to identify because
>they have learned to hide their reading deficiency. They can hold down
>jobs that don't require a great deal of reading. Many are older adults
>who simply failed to learn to read for one reason or another, but are
>embarrassed about it, especially where their children have learned to
>read in school. If they don't volunteer for the literacy program they're
>considered unreachable because they're still too embarrassed to admit
>there's a problem. Those of us who can read may find the advertising
>stupid, but it's not meant for us and studies have shown that it works
>for functional illiterates. It's low pressure,low embarrassment. And,
>contrary to what you seem to think, they can read it.
OK -- thanks for clearing this up. My remaining questions:
/1/ do those adults who "can already read some things" identify themselves
(to themselves or others) as "illiterates", "non-readers", etc.? If not
(and identifying oneself thus is fairly embarrassing in our culture), this
might present an obstacle (I'd imagine) to their showing up for help.
/2/ how accurate (generally) are adults' and others' identifications of
themselves as "able to read" or "not able to read" or "able to read just a
little", etc.? I ask because I have often met children who believed that
they could read when they could not read.
While this sort of thing used to be limited to 4- and 5-year-olds (who
pick up any book and make up any story under the impression that this is
"reading"), I am now seeing it with older and older children (even very
bright children) -- possibly one factor is that some of our local schools
consider it to be "wrong" to point out to a child, in ANY way (however
gently this may be done) that his/her attempted reading of a word or
sentence is not the correct reading.
Yours for better letters,
Kate Gladstone - Handwriting Repair
325 South Manning Boulevard
Albany, NY 12208-1731
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