Illiteracy in America

Danny Wilhoit
Posted to site February 12, 2010

            Illiteracy is a common problem all across the world, and in some places more common than others.  Illiteracy isn’t just the inability to read,
illiteracy prevents those who are illiterate from living a “Normal every-day life”.   How can a disease that through all of time has seemed incurable be
cured, and a war that has seemed unwinnable be won?  The answer to this question is this war cannot be completely won immediately but the fight can be
increased fought harder. Over time the war can be won and the battle ended, but to do this everyone will have to fight.  Focusing the attention of the people and starting at the beginning is the most basic way to begin the fight. Then focusing the attention and power of the Federal Government on the issue would be the second step. The final step would be focusing time and money through agencies and foundations towards illiteracy. 

            Illiteracy is the inability to read or write (Webster’s).  Illiteracy affects people all over the world more common in poor countries, but America
is a richer country and approximately 24 million Americans suffer from illiteracy (Department).  Americans are suffering, we are aware of the affects of
illiteracy on people, and we have possible solutions, but we aren’t fighting against illiteracy. Illiteracy in a person’s life means they aren’t able to
read or write so the person must recognize colors, pictures, and habits in order to function in their daily life; this means those suffering are forced
to live a different life than those who aren’t.  The unilliterate person should be able to read at least at an sixth grade comprehension level, anything
under that is considered illiterate (Department).

            Illiteracy isn’t always a lack of formal education, but in some cases a medical disorder or learning disability. (Lancet) Some people with learning
disabilities try to hide them, and so the disabilities aren’t always recognized causeing their illiteracy to go unnoticed.  Unnoticed illiteracy results
in the person “sliding” through school and always doing the minimum to get by. Usually the person is shy and doesn’t like to do things publically causing
them to just make it by in life as well.

            Beginning the fight on illiteracy must start with the people. Focusing the attention of the people and beginning at the most basic area of the
general public is the best procedure.  To alert the public of what illiteracy really is would be the basic place.  Informing and making aware of the affects,
life-style, and need to improve one’s self to the public would begin to make the change. After informing the people, the people must see a cure, so spreading
the vision of curing and eventually ending is the next direct step.  The illiterate must also be informed that it is okay to be illiterate and that it
is not something to be ashamed of. In most cases it is a learning disability and not a lack of education.  The people are the only way to make changes
and people want to see an improved society, so if people see a clear, clean, and improved vision of their future they are more inclined to help and support
this vision. After the people are informed and ready to fight for a brighter future for all; next step would be for the people to show their government.

            The attention and power of the Federal Government on the issue would be the next step for defeating illiteracy.  To have the government’s support
the basics will have to be revisited. The government needs to understand and be informed of what illiteracy is and how it affects the people who are illiterate.
If the government fully understands and sees that the people are supporting then the power of the government can be directed towards illiteracy. The government
has the ability to give financial and legal support to the people. With this power the people can then take the next step. 

This step is starting more foundations for the illiterate. If the illiterate know there is somewhere to go where they will be accepted and helped they would
be less ashamed to go for help.  Through the government foundations the employees could have the latest trainings and have the resources needed to teach.
Teaching the illiterate to read could result in more help through volunteering to give back to the foundation that helped.  The people who were helped
from the state of illiteracy would be eligible for jobs and positions that would help to improve the economy.  The next steps would be to use this support
in a laser focused way to attack the problem directly.

            Finally focusing time and money through agencies and foundations towards illiteracy in order to improve the state of the illiterate nation. 
With the people willing to fight the time would be well used and the money well spent.  If foundations and agencies are created for the specific reason
of fighting illiteracy and the illiterate are willing to seek this help because they are no longer ashamed they will be utilized and put to good use. 
New methods of teaching people to read must also be utilized in these new foundations.

            One such new method would be the “Full Word Method”.  The current and most common method of teaching is phonetically based. The phonetically
based method breaks down a word into it’s individual syllables, while the “Full Word Method” introduces the entire word and teaches to recognize by the
mechanics of the word instead of the mechanics of the sounds. The phonetically based method focuses on the mechanics of the sounds, but with English the
sounds and spellings may differ presenting the challenge (Sweet).

After adopting new methods of teaching and experimenting with them, using the ones that work and eliminating those that don’t not only from the foundations
and agencies but also from the school system.  If children can be taught to read and their disabilities identified at a young age, a proactive attack on
the war will then be taken in the school systems. With a plan to attack at a young age and begin effective techniques at the beginning of life the number
of illiterate people in America will decrease greatly.

With the people informed and ready to fight for a brighter future, the government supporting the people and their fight, and a laser focused vision the
war and disease of illiteracy could be eventually ended forever.  These solutions aren’t the only ones, but they are a good start to fighting.  In the
literal light of things fighting this war is only the beginning to a brighter vision of a brighter future.

Works Cited

Department, Education. US Department of Education. 15 10 2009. 05 2 2010

Lancet. “The health illiteracy problem in the USA.” UNITED States. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality 374.9707 (2009): 2028-2028.

Robert W Sweet, Jr. “Illiteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice.” The National Right to Read Foundation (1996).

Webster’s New World Dictionary. Random House, 2009.

Reproduced from