English IV AP
Hidden Illiteracy: The Ignorance of Ignorance
What is illiteracy? If you ask the person sitting next to you, they would probably say the inability to read or write. You would probably say the same thing too. That is true, but what most people do not know is that there is more to it than that. While illiteracy is a major problem that needs to be addressed, being functionally illiterate is also a major problem that should be dealt with too. The problem of illiteracy is that it exists but most people do not know much about it. The solution to this problem would be to provide information to help educate people about illiteracy, explain some of the possible causes and consequences of illiteracy, and to ultimately create solutions that would help put an end to illiteracy.
Illiteracy is not just the inability to read or write, it is also the inability to understand information given. This is known as being functionally illiterate which by today’s standards means, “he or she has a comprehension level equivalent to the sixth grade or below.” (Illiteracy, 1). In 1940 an individual with a sixth grade education would be considered literate, which only eleven percent of the population had reached
(Illiteracy, 1). The other eighty-nine percent were not viewed as a problem because most of the work back then was more focused on labor rather than skills and now, work is more complex and technical.
Studies show that, “two thirds of students who cannot
read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.” (11
Facts, 1). Also, seventy percent of Americans in jail cannot read above a fourth grade level (11 Facts, 1); therefore, they do not even meet the requirements to be considered functionally illiterate. Studies show that people living in poor living conditions has a direct correlation to being illiterate or functionally illiterate. Seventy-five percent of
Americans who receive food stamps or are on welfare show that they perform at the lowest two levels of literacy and about ninety percent of students who drop out of high school are on welfare (11 Facts, 2). Between forty-six and fifty-one percent of individual adults in America receive an income well below the poverty level because of their inability to read or write or understand information. Forty- four percent of Americans do not read or buy a single book in a year, (Literacy, 1). These could be causes of intergenerational illiteracy. If there is no adult in the home reading or promoting reading, then there is a very high possibility that the child in that home will pick up from the parent and not take to reading.
There are many factors that contribute to causing illiteracy. Parents with little to no schooling is a factor (Causes, 1). Parents not going to school and not being able to read because of that could be passed down to their children and the cycle could continue with their children’s children and so on. Another cause of illiteracy is the lack of books in the home and the importance of reading being diminished (Causes, 1). If books are not in the home then there is a strong chance that the child, or adult, is not reading at all. Also if there are no books in the home, there probably isn’t someone in the home promoting reading. Dropping out of school could be a cause and consequence of being
illiterate (Causes, 1). If the student drops out without receiving an education they could either be illiterate or functionally illiterate, but the student could already have trouble reading and feel that the only solution is to drop out. Poor living conditions and limited access to reading and writing materials are factors in the causes of illiteracy (Causes, 1 and Model, 1). “Economic instability can affect the ability of a population to become literate,” (Model, 1). If a child does not have access to the materials he or she needs to help them read or write then that is a major factor in the causes of