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Not many people know the difficulties illiteracy brings to everyday life. Imagine not being able to read a restaurant menu, understand your bank statement, or read hazard signs along the road. Even rudimentary literacy skills enable us to be self-sufficient, interact better with others, and contribute more to society. “The capacity to read and write is casually associated with earning a living, achieving expanded horizons of personal enlightenment, maintaining a stable and democratic society, and historically, with the rise of civilization itself” (Szwed 3).

Literacy events, any moment in which literacy plays a role, appear countless times each and every day, and it is difficult for those who cannot read or write to fully participate in these activities. Literacy plays a huge part in our interactions, our relationships, and our society’s growth. Historically, “literacy has been viewed as a yes-and-no matter, easily determined: either one reads and writes or one doesn’t” (Szwed 5). People who lack the ability to read and write face immeasurable challenges.

They have huge difficulty performing simple daily activities and, in professional settings particularly, lag behind their literate counterparts. Naturally, this inability causes psychological effects as well. Insecurities set in and they fill with anxiety when faced with tasks that literate people handle easily several times each day. While literacy skills vary greatly between individuals, those deemed “illiterate” experience a life filled with limitations. “Many literacy events in life are regular, repeated activities” and, unless they learn to read and write, these activities never get easier for illiterate people (Barton and Hamilton 23).

“Some events are linked into routine sequences and these may be part of the formal procedures and expectations of social institutions like work-places, schools and welfare agencies” (Barton and Hamilton 23). While some illiterates receive help from others for their disability, most people are capable of reading and writing and it is even more difficult for illiterate individuals to interact with those who do not experience their same problems. Literacy enables us to fully engage with others and gain confidence in ourselves.

Without the ability to engage with others in the short-term, many illiterate people also find difficulties in establishing relationships with those who can read and write. Generally, well-educated, literate people often look down on illiterate society. Literates tend to overpower illiterates who are limited by their hampered ability to gain knowledge and skills. Without ways to compensate for their inability to read and write, illiterate people are completely unable to compete with literates who, in turn, have a biased advantage in any literacy event.

This imbalance of skills shows how important it is that every person be literate and able to communicate proficiently. “Educators often assume that reading and writing form a single standard set of skills”, however each person may learn and use these skills in a myriad of ways (Szwed 11). Because ethnic groups, ages, sexes, and education systems all affect the quality and level of literacy, it is impossible for literacy to be standardized across all members of civilization.

“Literacy practices are patterned by social institutions and power relationships, and some literacies are more dominant, visible and influential than others” (22). While there is no way for everyone to have the same literacy skills, the ability to read and write provide a foundation on which any person can connect with others, communicate proficiently, and establish long-standing relationships that can help develop society. While literacy looks different everywhere you look, illiteracy does exist throughout the world; this problem is not confined to the United States.

Currently, other countries are experiencing widespread illiteracy as well. “The wealthy nations of the world are now encountering rather massive failures in reading and writing among students at all levels; and it appears that despite universal schooling, a continuing percentage of the population of these nations has difficulties with these skills” (Szwed 3). Societies progress and improve through the efforts of the educated and their professional, business interactions.

But if a person cannot understand an email sent from their boss, or a memo about process improvement, they cannot participate fully and engage effectively to positively affect their community. The nation weakens as a whole with each and every person identified as illiterate. “A first step in reconceptualizing literacy is to accept the multiple functions literacy may service in a given activity, where it can replace spoken language, enable communication, solve a practical problem or act as a memory aid – in some cases, all at the same time” (Barton and Hamilton 29).

In order to ensure progression and evolution of society, we must first ensure that our national and global youth are literate in all of these ways before they reach adulthood. By doing this, we can guarantee that as they exit adolescence, these people will be able to fully engage with others and use their literacy skills to improve our world. The term “literacy” covers a wide range of abilities, comprehensions, and skills. But they all funnel into the same capacities: the capacity to write a “thank you” note for a gift, dial a phone number, or take a written exam.

By being able to read and write, each individual can feel confident and secure in their ability to perform the simplest of functions without seeking the help of others. As literacy is hand-in-hand with education, each country must focus on their education system, viewing it as a safety net to our civilization’s future well-being. Without those years of necessary schooling, we are doomed to continue on this trend of increasing illiteracy and will be certain to regress in our societal evolution. Works Cited Szwed, John. “The Ethnography of Literacy”. Ethnographic Inquires In Writing.

Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. 3-15. Print. Barton, David and Hamilton, Mary. “Literacy Practices”. Ethnographic Inquires In Writing. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. 21-32. Print. Not many people know the difficulties illiteracy brings to everyday life. Imagine not being able to read a restaurant menu, understand your bank statement, or read hazard signs along the road. Even rudimentary literacy skills enable us to be self-sufficient, interact better with others, and contribute more to society.

“The capacity to read and write is casually associated with earning a living, achieving expanded horizons of personal enlightenment, maintaining a stable and democratic society, and historically, with the rise of civilization itself” (Szwed 3). Literacy events, any moment in which literacy plays a role, appear countless times each and every day, and it is difficult for those who cannot read or write to fully participate in these activities. Literacy plays a huge part in our interactions, our relationships, and our society’s growth.

Historically, “literacy has been viewed as a yes-and-no matter, easily determined: either one reads and writes or one doesn’t” (Szwed 5). People who lack the ability to read and write face immeasurable challenges. They have huge difficulty performing simple daily activities and, in professional settings particularly, lag behind their literate counterparts. Naturally, this inability causes psychological effects as well. Insecurities set in and they fill with anxiety when faced with tasks that literate people handle easily several times each day.

While literacy skills vary greatly between individuals, those deemed “illiterate” experience a life filled with limitations. “Many literacy events in life are regular, repeated activities” and, unless they learn to read and write, these activities never get easier for illiterate people (Barton and Hamilton 23). “Some events are linked into routine sequences and these may be part of the formal procedures and expectations of social institutions like work-places, schools and welfare agencies” (Barton and Hamilton 23).

While some illiterates receive help from others for their disability, most people are capable of reading and writing and it is even more difficult for illiterate individuals to interact with those who do not experience their same problems. Literacy enables us to fully engage with others and gain confidence in ourselves. Without the ability to engage with others in the short-term, many illiterate people also find difficulties in establishing relationships with those who can read and write. Generally, well-educated, literate people often look down on illiterate society.

Literates tend to overpower illiterates who are limited by their hampered ability to gain knowledge and skills. Without ways to compensate for their inability to read and write, illiterate people are completely unable to compete with literates who, in turn, have a biased advantage in any literacy event. This imbalance of skills shows how important it is that every person be literate and able to communicate proficiently. “Educators often assume that reading and writing form a single standard set of skills”, however each person may learn and use these skills in a myriad of ways (Szwed 11).

Because ethnic groups, ages, sexes, and education systems all affect the quality and level of literacy, it is impossible for literacy to be standardized across all members of civilization. “Literacy practices are patterned by social institutions and power relationships, and some literacies are more dominant, visible and influential than others” (22). While there is no way for everyone to have the same literacy skills, the ability to read and write provide a foundation on which any person can connect with others, communicate proficiently, and establish long-standing relationships that can help develop society.

While literacy looks different everywhere you look, illiteracy does exist throughout the world; this problem is not confined to the United States. Currently, other countries are experiencing widespread illiteracy as well. “The wealthy nations of the world are now encountering rather massive failures in reading and writing among students at all levels; and it appears that despite universal schooling, a continuing percentage of the population of these nations has difficulties with these skills” (Szwed 3). Societies progress and improve through the efforts of the educated and their professional, business interactions.

But if a person cannot understand an email sent from their boss, or a memo about process improvement, they cannot participate fully and engage effectively to positively affect their community. The nation weakens as a whole with each and every person identified as illiterate. “A first step in reconceptualizing literacy is to accept the multiple functions literacy may service in a given activity, where it can replace spoken language, enable communication, solve a practical problem or act as a memory aid – in some cases, all at the same time” (Barton and Hamilton 29).

In order to ensure progression and evolution of society, we must first ensure that our national and global youth are literate in all of these ways before they reach adulthood. By doing this, we can guarantee that as they exit adolescence, these people will be able to fully engage with others and use their literacy skills to improve our world. The term “literacy” covers a wide range of abilities, comprehensions, and skills.

But they all funnel into the same capacities: the capacity to write a “thank you” note for a gift, dial a phone number, or take a written exam. By being able to read and write, each individual can feel confident and secure in their ability to perform the simplest of functions without seeking the help of others. As literacy is hand-in-hand with education, each country must focus on their education system, viewing it as a safety net to our civilization’s future well-being.

Without those years of necessary schooling, we are doomed to continue on this trend of increasing illiteracy and will be certain to regress in our societal evolution. Works Cited Szwed, John. “The Ethnography of Literacy”. Ethnographic Inquires In Writing. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. 3-15. Print. Barton, David and Hamilton, Mary. “Literacy Practices”. Ethnographic Inquires In Writing. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. 21-32. Print.


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