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ERIC Number: ED346481
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Pages: 15
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Faith in the Reality of Belonging: The Story of Alonzo A.
Reed-Jones, Susan
A case study of Alonzo A. illustrates the danger of a monocultural approach to education and provides a living example of the impact of marginalization and alienation on the lives of persons of color. Born in Mexico and raised by grandparents in California, Alonzo dropped out of school in the eighth grade and joined a gang. He was a heroin addict at 16, a convicted felon at 17, and became an alcoholic after kicking his heroin addiction. At 32 years of age, Alonzo was completing his third prison term. Unable to read, all he had learned (with the help of another inmate) was to print his name with difficulty. During and after participation in a work furlough program, he attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings which he took to immediately. During his school years Alonzo had developed an extraordinary capacity for memorization that helped him conceal his illiteracy and to pass from grade to grade. Using this capacity, he memorized the passages of text read aloud by various members before each meeting, so that when it came his turn he could recite the text while pretending to read the words. He finally confided to a friend in the program that he could not read. Later, he took adult education night classes and passed his high school equivalency test. Alonzo's change in attitude after joining AA is striking and stems in part from his feeling of belonging--a feeling he never felt in school. It was only when he became part of a literate community that he considered valuable, and that considered him valuable, that he gained the desire for literacy. Alonzo's story illustrates the real nature of the "literacy crisis" and it illustrates the danger of the assumption that literacy is somehow removed from the values of the culture in which it is embedded. (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A