The Importance of Reading and Writing

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A colleague and I recently discussed a disturbing trend that we noticed.

Many people we meet are out of work. They tell us one thing: “I need to work, NOW.” Although we are able to place many of them, there are some who find getting work a daunting task. We have discovered more and more of our customers have problems using computers to copy and paste into a resume template. The problem most often is not the ability to use the computer. Though we do, in fact, have people walk in the door not knowing how to use a mouse. The problem has been in comprehending how to use the template we provide.

We have examined the process we use to produce a resume.

We are finding that the issue is an inability to read. As a teacher of computer use, I find this trend disturbing.

Average prose, document and quantative literacy scores of adults: 1992 and 2003

To conform to today’s culture, one must align themselves with technology. As the call for artisans with skills in physical areas wanes, while the demand for multi-skilled technological artisans with is rising. If one is going to be successful in the general marketplace, one needs some kind of technical skill, or at least ability to learn quickly. If one cannot read, or lacks the necessary skills to learn on their own, the world looms more like a mountain to climb, rather than an oyster to be picked. The disparagement is that with such a huge database of knowledge at their fingertips, many people who do not possess these skills are sadly out of touch with our world today, and feeling displaced.

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There are so many sites on the web to help anyone with reading problems. People have created YouTube videos at no cost to anyone.

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Since I know of these sites, one can guess what I tell students who have reading problems. Some of them avail themselves of the information, some do not. All of my students, feel that they need to work now. They do not have time to teach themselves how to read because they need to put food on the table. You may wonder how these people survived as adults. The answer is that many relied on other skills that they possessed. Some worked in construction, others in more physical professions. When I was attending college classes to earn my Masters Degree in Education, I remember one of my classmates was incapable of writing a finished paper. Yet, this classmate felt confident of becoming a physical education teacher. Any successful teacher will tell you that one must continually perfect their teaching skills and understand that meticulous attention to data collection in the form of testing, evaluation and standardization is critical to maintaining student progress.

I’m not going to bash teachers. Marred with political and professional roadblocks, the job of any teacher is difficult. I believe that the person who is unable to read or write, successful in skirting the system and hired as a teacher, could adversely affect students by demonstrations of unwillingness to improve themselves as a teacher.

We should all be learning.

Keeping records of students is not enough. It is a teacher’s job to continue to learn, approach the web every day, to read the latest news, sports, entertainment and technological advances.

Dr. Michio Kaku has become one of my favorite authors.  I follow sites such as: Kickstarter and Indiegogo religiously to see the cool stuff that people are creating. I visit the trending section of YouTube daily to see what is new, consult with LinkedIn daily to see what is being posted. Everything I am involved in is about keeping up with current events. At night, I devote at least half an hour to reading the classics. Literature, i.e: Maugham, Orwell, Chaucer or Shakespeare.

So, how can we as a culture stop this trend toward lack of reading ability?

The answer is simple. If you are a parent, read to your child. If you do not know how to read, get a book, one that is donated and make the effort. If you are making the effort to read to your child and cannot, you will find that your mere effort to read will most likely spur your child to develop and read to you. If you are an adult with reading or comprehension problems, I have provided links to several sources in this post. If you are unable to follow any of those links, your local school system or college should have programs in place to help you achieve your reading goals.

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