Lisa Kleypas has a concern that she put on Squawk Radio. She’s worried about large-scale illiteracy. I believe I come from a uniquely pertinent point of view.
But for the grace of God I would now be nearly illiterate. The same level of illiterate as Michael Rogers advocates.
Reading was always hard for me, made harder by poor social skills and some issues which I have no intention of discussing here.
When I hit 6th grade I still struggled with cartoons. I could read labels in the store if I applied myself and had no problem with traffic signs. I was quite good at reading maps. With some work I could get by.
My reading skills were so poor I was separated from my class to attend remedial reading. They started with the alphabet and went from there to vowels and consonants.
By coincidence we had lost our TV the same year. It was not replaced for a year and a half. The only form of entertainment I could readily come by involved reading. Better yet, if I was reading, I could put off my chores for an hour or two. Reading became a constant activity for me.
In a matter of weeks I surged past my fellow remedial readers and was transferred back to my classroom. That didn’t last long.
I was mortified when my teachers pulled me from class again. I didn’t want to go back to remedial reading. But it wasn’t remedial reading they wanted to put me in. It was the gifted class.
It’s amazing what a year without TV can do.
Could I survive without my reading skills? Certainly. But not easily. When I was nearly illiterate I often felt left out because others understood so easily what I was still trying to sound out. Think of the way Star Wars started, with a long scrolling screen full of words. Newspapers, magazines, nearly 90% of what I personally have encountered online has involved reading far beyond the basics. Bought a toy or a piece of furniture lately? Get a load of the instructions on how to put it together.
It goes beyond reading comprehension. The more illiterate the reading, the worse the writing. Poor writing skills come across the same way as poor grammar and poor annunciation. People automatically assume the speeker/writer is uneducated, and less worthy of attention.
Yes, writing has historically been the province of only those lucky enough to be able to afford an education. However, it has been a part of civilization for as long as people have felt a need to record things for posterity. Admittedly the earliest recordings were predominately accounting records *grin* but the skill set is the same. It isn’t the overnight phenomena Rogers would have us believe.
It is possible technology will someday make reading obsolete, returning it to a select few who value reading for itself. I don’t see that day coming in 19 years. Do you?