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ERIC Number: ED271722
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986
Pages: 26
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
The Problem with Literacy.
Castilleja, Janet
Statistics appear to indicate an overwhelming rate of illiteracy around the world, and yet most children (between 70% and 80% in the United States) do learn to read. It is difficult to reconcile the evidence of widespread failure of reading programs with the knowledge that learning to read can actually be quite easy, given the proper circumstances. One of the problems lies in the presumption that the American way of life (white, middle-class, educated) is the best way and that it should be emulated. This is not to deny that literacy is essential to full participation in American life, but perhaps literacy should not be perceived and taught in only one way. One of the two major, conflicting viewpoints on the causes of school failure among minority groups is language variation, but there is little convincing evidence that dialect use alone is sufficient to cause school failure. The other viewpoint posits social factors as the cause of academic failure, the most critical of which is the perception that one must surrender one's cultural identity for success in American schools. Most minority children will not make this choice, but rather opt to identify with their culture. In most cases this means giving up the possibility of material success. If, in this society, illiteracy means forfeiting food and shelter, a safe place to raise children, and at least a minimum of freedom to pursue life as a person sees fit, then illiteracy is not acceptable. But neither is it acceptable to be forced to give up one's culture and language in order to achieve literacy. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A