Zero Reading Level?
I know two illiterate individuals. They are not kin to one another and are from different generations. One is an older male while the other is a middle-aged female, each having chances to learn skills and get by in their own ways. Each one has raised several children, with the female still of childbearing age, which she considers her lot in life and the way to acquire necessities.
The man, identified here as “Joe”, was born around 1940. Joe is completely dependent on his wife to take care of bills and any other pertinent documents. Joe operates a small roofing company but living within limited abilities has made him cynical and suspicious-minded. How do you know who is cheating you and who is spreading the word to others, setting you up before jobs bids even begin? As difficult as it is for a literate person to avoid liars and cheaters, how much worse can it be if you are not sure what you’re signing? Joe is always respectful and carefully phrases his words around me but I happen to know he has somewhat of a personality disorder, to which he subjects those in his everyday world. I suppose anyone in Joe’s situation would have anger and I empathize, but have a problem as to why he refuses to learn how to read, not that it would make all the problems in his life disappear.
Joe is a Christian who hosted services in his home for a long time while his step-grandson was studying to become an ordained minister. When I ponder these things, I think back to times before Bibles were available to lay persons rather than priests only and wonder how someone can bear to be “told” what is written in Scripture. I know through personal experience and research, and many will agree, that propaganda permeates religious studies and it grieves my heart to think how many are misled because of ignorance and/or deception. Again, reading persons have the option of finding answers for themselves, although many tend to believe whatever is “preached at them”. It is unfathomable to consider not having the ability to seek answers for oneself.
I realized “Joan”, the female acquaintance, could not read when I went by her house to take a few items to her little girl. The little girl’s father was in prison, the grandfather had just died and things were bleak. And that was before I knew Joan could not read.
For some reason she did not want to see the mail carrier, so when the mail truck pulled up, Joan asked me to go out in the yard and get the mail. Once I brought it inside, Joan told me she needed me to read the letter from the school. She could make out that it was from the school and she recognized her son’s name, but that was the extent of her ability.
From that day to this, I have not figured out how someone born in the USA in the 1960s managed to overlook how important reading is, especially if you intend to raise children. Why does it take so long for “the system” to realize there is, indeed, a problem? People sometimes do not like to read because it takes effort but I have seen the same people wait for hours to get free food at the local charity house. Nothing against government or charitable programs, but why can’t we at least make a requisite of reading and other skills? What happened to the “Welfare to Work” program? Visit here to see: http://www.doleta.gov/wtw/ (Links open in new windows!)
NOTE: The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) program officially ended on September 30, 2004. For information on Welfare Reform, please go to: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/acf_services.html
In other words, the US government considers retardation much more simplistically than what we understood it to mean in years past. I possibly qualify for a check! I do not demean anyone with a hindrance; I do take issue with the scammers and loafers!
Both of the people described herein, and I likely know others without being aware of it, have raised children who are combative to conforming, even though they are not actually conforming to anything. Reading is a privilege, a pleasure of which no one should be deprived.
How did our American children become so obstinate toward education? A better word would be “pigheaded” because of the ignorance and implications…
Word for it: Obstinate: firmly or stubbornly adhering to one’s purpose, opinion, etc.; not yielding to argument, persuasion, or entreaty.
This is not about third world countries or the destitute who have such overwhelmingly awful circumstances; it is about everyday Joes and Joans who cannot read and are ashamed to get assistance from qualified individuals or are satisfied to let others do the worrying over tedious details.
It’s reasonable to assume that certain demographics would be in place as causes but each of these people had opportunity and come from families with reading parents. It isn’t something I would boldly suggest, but I would gladly help anyone learn to read.