Re: Re[2]: FWD: "Illiterate America"

Subject: Re: Re[2]: FWD: "Illiterate America"
From: Romay Jean Sitze <rositze -at- NMSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 11:01:04 -0700

On Mon, 4 Dec 1995, Arlen P. Walker wrote:

> My youngest repeatedly came home from school frustrated because she was being
> encouraged to do things she knew she couldn't do correctly. It was like she
> being encouraged to build a house, but no one had shown her how to wield a
> hammer or a saw. She grew up hating to write, because she didn't know how to
> words properly. She knows, now, but she still hasn't shaken the frustration
> felt in her early years. Hopefully someday she will, because she is really
> intelligent, and comes across that way when speaking (her debate team is 9-3
> far this year, and she's one of the best at cross-ex in her division) but not
> while writing.

This experience is one that I have seen repeatedly, both in my own family
and in the public schools that I have had experience with. There is
definitely something to be said for teaching students how to use tools
properly before expecting them to use them creatively. And as a matter
of first-hand experience, I know that I am far less likely to try
something cold than I am after I know at least a little about what the
tools I am expected to use can do.

Obviously, this does not mean that I am unwilling or incapable of
learning about new tools on my own, but the confidence to do this comes
from feeling that I have at least some rudimentary understanding of the
basic tools upon which to build.

This self-awareness of my own need for a foundation upon which to build
makes me more aware, as a writer, of the need to establish/understand the
foundation from which my reader will be working, and as a teacher, of
what my students know or need to know in order to accomplish the tasks set.

RoMay Sitze, rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu

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