Re: FWD: "Illiterate America"

Subject: Re: FWD: "Illiterate America"
From: Patrick B Bjork <bjork -at- PLAINS -dot- NODAK -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 1995 11:35:18 -0600

> Bloodcurdling statistics. Thanks for passing them on. You might
> consider correcting the note (which I presume you didn't write) accompanying
> the fwd, if you send it off again. "Spaketh" should be "spake" (while
> we're being literate), and of course the "ly" on "thusly" is redundant.

I trust Joanna will not take this personally, but I suspect that one
major reason why so many Americans hate their language is because of the
way it is taught. And the way it is taught is often limited to mechanics
and usage without any sense of context or application.

There are a zillion other reasons, of course, but rather than dwell on
the negatives, might it not be more advantageous to start from the
premise that while many Americans cannot read or write effectively, they
are, nonetheless, *not* poor communicators? And that, therefore, might
not we be able to use their oral communication skills in some form or
fashion as a foundation to improving their written communication skills?

I haven't formulated a strategy, mind you, but I do know that, at present,
the way reading and writing is taught to children creates a kind of
right/wrong dependency and paranoia that does little but stunt the
imagination and limit one's capacity for discovery. Or, put more simply,
think about how you learned your language in grade and high school. Were
you encouraged to read and write with abandon or did you sit in straight
rows identifying parts of speech and conjugating verbs?

Patrick Bjork
Dept. of English
Bismarck State College
bjork -at- plains -dot- nodak -dot- edu

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