A Nation Of Nonreaders - page 2

I first noticed this serious problem when I was 19 years old and working at a grocery store. One of my coworkers, a middle-aged mother of three who had been married for 15 years, asked for my... Read More

  1. by   lemur00
    Quote from TheCommuter
    It makes me wonder how these people skirted through college-level English courses and managed to receive passing grades.
    Some are given mercy passes. Others have a friend who needs them to stay in school to give said friend a ride to school (this may or may not be based on personal experience :P). The question of standards does come to mind as well.

    That said, I used to work with an older nurse who was clearly dyslexic. In her day she was simply labeled a "slow learner" and no one really expected much from her. What got her through was pure determination and hard work. She read as much as she could to practice, worked twice as hard as everyone else to complete her education (which those around her told her she was simply incapable of doing) and went on to have an almost 50 year career. She never did read or write well but did well enough.

    I was always impressed at her work ethic and her willingness to do what it took to become a nurse, despite the difficulties. Many people in the same situation would have quit and accepted that they were simply too "stupid" to continue. Heck how many people quit with half the obstacles?
  2. by   martymoose
    One word- De-evolution.
  3. by   BrandonLPN
    Where I work, they tried for a while to let the aides write their own notes in the chart. It made sense, taken at face value. The aides could chart stuff within their scope: behavior observations, food intake, unusual urine/stool output, things like that.

    It only lasted a few months.

    Tons of incoherent notes. Bizarre sentence structure. Aides who would write two page narrative notes just to describe why Mrs Jones didn't get her shower that shift. And, I swear to God, I saw notes where "cause" was written "cuz", "you" as "u" and other various cell phone text-speaks. It was a hot mess.

    I'm convinced that texting is ruining our ability to write with any competence. Writing properly is a "use it or lose it" skill. And many Americans seem to be "losing it" fast.
  4. by   BrandonLPN
    I totally agree that cursive handwriting has outlived it purpose. It's just an archaic relic. For clarity purposes, we should train kids to have their writing match typed words as much as possible. Who cares if it's not as pretty or individualistic? Clarity and uniformity is the point of writing.
  5. by   chuckster
    There is little doubt that both literacy and perhaps more importantly, numeracy, have declined significantly in the US over the past decades. While it is convenient to identfy the school system as the culprit, in my opinion, poor parenting is much more to blame. Both my wife and I had parents who read, both of us are avid readers and so perhaps not surprisingly, both our [now grown] children are also fond of reading.

    Having a high degree of literacy may not seem related to mathematics, but the ability to understand and reason is enhanced dramatically through literature and I maintain helps to promote a facility with numbers (i. e., numeracy). Of course, reading also builds vocabulary and allows a deeper understanding of grammar and syntax, all of which helps to increase fluency and competence in writing.

    Frankly, it is a shame that neither schools nor parents seem to hold reading in very high regard. When I went to high school, we were required to read a wide variety of works ranging from "classic" English writing such as Chaucer, Shakespeare and Marlowe, to more modern works from Hardy, Lawrence, Twain, Dickens, Melville, London, Crane and Hemingway. I can still recite the first few lines of the Canterbury Tales (we had to memorize the first paragraph - in Middle English no less!) and much of Portia's "Quality of Mercy" soliloquy from The Merchant of Venice. I bring this up, not to brag about my education - frankly, it pales in comparison to that of earlier generations - but simply to illustrate how far down we seem to have slid when it comes to appreciating English literature. Poor writing skills really should not be much of a surprise.
  6. by   chuckster
    Quote from Cro-Magnon
    Poor spelling is not always an example of illiteracy. I know plenty of well read people who for whatever reason have poor recall when it comes to spelling. . . .
    Never trust a man who can only spell a word one way
    S. L. Clemons
  7. by   rita359
    Readers Digest had an article years ago about a college graduate who admitted he could NOT read. He was adept at getting other people to do things for him. Its a shame a college educated? man should have to admit something like that.

    If we consider the number of people who get out of school without being able to proficiently read, which they should be able to do at least by the fifth grade, why do we wonder that taxpayers do not want to keep increasing school taxes when schools cannot seem to accomplish even this minimal task.
  8. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from rita359
    If we consider the number of people who get out of school without being able to proficiently read, which they should be able to do at least by the fifth grade, why do we wonder that taxpayers do not want to keep increasing school taxes when schools cannot seem to accomplish even this minimal task.
    Schools share some of the blame. I also think that parents shoulder the remainder of the blame for poor literacy and numeracy. After all, there's only so much a schoolteacher can do with an unprepared child.

    The foundation for strong literacy and numeracy skills starts in infancy when babies and toddlers are read to, spoken to, and stimulated by their parents. However, masses of parents do not read to their children or help with homework assignments. According to multiple studies, children of undereducated parents have limited vocabularies and do not perform at the same level as kids born to more educated parents. They typically start behind in school and often never catch up without some intense remediation.

    Think about it. It's your educated professional households who seek out after-school tutoring, writing classes, music lessons, reading workshops, and other organized activities that inculcate literacy skills and critical thought into the mind of a child with a developing brain.

    There's an achievement gap in America, and the kids who were lucky enough to be born to parents who value education are the ones who tend to achieve.
  9. by   Wrench Party
    I agree with the above statement somewhere that college-level students have atrocious writing abilities. I had to practically
    re-write my partner's part of a paper in one of our classes due to the generally poor spelling, casual speech, and incoherence
    of it all. And the way some of these folks speak as future professionals...
  10. by   boggle
    I liked the various suggestions posted to help our marginal readers understand and retain instructions. Still, I feel the need to reach out to non readers and marginal readers, especially coworkers. Reading really is about cracking the code of written language. If a person doesn't "crack the code" while young, and being taught only one way to do it, so many give up and get discouraged. I've seen one-on-one tutoring with literacy volunteers work wonders in my community. How can I help my coworkers in a non-threatening way, without embarrassing way?
    Last edit by boggle on Dec 5, '12 : Reason: Hit "post" too soon.
  11. by   rosiegoose
    While there is no doubt in my mind that literacy levels are not where it should be, I really question how much they have decreased. Maybe it has just decreased for the anglophone white males, however what about women and ethnic minorities now that education is more accessible for those groups.
  12. by   brillohead
    We watched this video in my Fundamentals of Nursing class. It's "long" (23 minutes) but was incredibly eye-opening for me. If you have the time, I highly recommend that you watch this video:

    Health literacy and patient safety: Help patients understand - YouTube

    As someone who was reading at a 12th grade level in the 5th grade, the concept of functional illiteracy was relatively foreign to me. Seeing this video, which shows regular everyday folks who can't read/understand their prescription instructions, hit me like a ton of bricks.

    This is a real problem in our society... one that I had no clue was so prevalent.
  13. by   sapphire18
    I had no idea how prevalent illiteracy or marginal literacy were, either, until nursing school. It really saddens me for these people, for our profession, and for society in general.