Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adult Literacy... A Community Project

Adult illiteracy is more than just an isolated problem.  Since I have been made aware of how severe the problem is, I have taken steps to become part of the solution instead of simply letting the problem continue its course.  I am not a professional teacher, I have no degree from college, I am just a person who loves to learn and wants to share that love.

I hated school when I was younger.  While I love books and didn't struggle in my classes, I became bored and didn't appreciate the value of an education.  As soon as I became old enough, I dropped out of school and got my GED.  Since that time, I have taken a few college classes, but not many.  I also had a family.  Having a love of books, I taught my children to read before they started school.  As they grew, I realized that the public education wasn't right for us.  It was our responsibility as parents to educate our children.  After all, I tutored them when they came home every day with their homework. 

When we pulled our children out of public school and began homeschooling them, I was shocked to discover how much my children DIDN'T know.  I had taken for granted that the schools would provide all the education they needed and wouldn't have passed them along if they didn't know.  Yes, I was naive.  It took at least a year for me to back up enough to find the level each of them were at so that I could fill in the gaps.

Now, I have two left.  One is graduating a year early this year and the other is doing well in her studies and plans to graduate early also.  With the onset of Empty Nest Syndrome, I felt the need to fill my own gap.  In my process to discover what that gap could be, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.  As I wrote, I discovered the local Adult Learning Center.  The used book store that the center has within it drew me in first, and then I learned of their wi-fi.  As I went, I talked with the director and learned that volunteer tutoring isn't much different than homeschooling.  The resources and material were made available as was training, tips, and continual supportive training.  

I find it extremely rewarding to help another adult to progress with their goals.  I'm not the best teacher, but the people who go there have the desire and need to learn.  The students are just as nervous, if not more so, than the volunteers.  During the process of tutoring, the tutor learns more from the students -- in my opinion -- than the students learn.  Their joy and determination are rewarding for both.

During my training and subsequent tutoring, I learned that most reading material on a low literacy level are directed at children.  This is great for the children, but can be discouraging to adults.  As a goal for my students, I have come up with an idea that feeds both my passion and their need... write a book.  By finding something interests the adults and using words on their level, we can write short books that they can read and hold up as a trophy of their accomplishments.  The pride, excitement, and incredulity on their faces at the idea showed me that it could work.

So, I extend my project to my fellow writers, volunteers, and anyone who wants to get involved, but doesn't know how.  We need topics for books (non-fiction and fiction) that adults find interesting, but can be relayed using simple words.  More difficult words can be included, but in a word back for the readers to learn. 

I'm sure that with all of the creativity that surrounds each and every one of us, we will be able to come up with a collection of short stories that can be published.  If you aren't a writer, that is fine.  Send me a topic or idea of something you find interesting.  I can use these ideas with students, for them to write their own stories, and also for me to write stories to help them on their way. 

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, I hope that you will speak up and contact me.  Illiteracy has a cure and it starts with people who care.  Please let that someone be you.

Email me at and put Literacy Project in the subject line.

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