Is this true?

  1. I read in my college newspaper that ABC did some kind of report and it said 25 million Americans were functionally illiterate.

    That's one in 5 adults in this country.

    That means one in 5 adults can't do things like answer a Want-Ad or read the newspapers or follow directions or written instructions.

    Maybe not even read a good novel. :stone

    It just bothers me a lot. Reading and comprehension are something I've taken for granted. I mean, I can't imagine life without books! :uhoh21:

    And now it gets me thinking - how many of us pass out booklets and pamphlets and assume they'll know that it's all about?

    Like I said, it really bothers me.
    •  
  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   suzanne4
    Unfortunately, it is true. And it may actually even be higher than that. That is why it is so important to go over instructions with your patient, not just hand them the papers.
  4. by   SouthernLPN2RN
    My DH can't read very well. Our 8yo has read better than him for a year at least. He's gradually picking up some, has taken and passed multiple firefighting classes (some tests were read to him) and even his CDL written test was read to him. He's also a first responder and passed the clinical test for EMT, failed the written one and won't go back to retest. He left school in the 8th grade.
  5. by   Jessy_RN
    It's so true. But, you also have to consider all the people who have migrated from other countries that have high rates of illiteracy too. Maybe that's why the number is high?
  6. by   tencat
    It doesn't surprise me at all. Education is not a priority in this country, and teachers are heavily pressured to give passing grades to every student, regardless of whether or not the student has made the effort to learn. It's either do that or be blamed for every problem in little Johnny's life......no wonder the rate is so high.
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from tencat
    It doesn't surprise me at all. Education is not a priority in this country, and teachers are heavily pressured to give passing grades to every student, regardless of whether or not the student has made the effort to learn. It's either do that or be blamed for every problem in little Johnny's life......no wonder the rate is so high.
    I agree with this. While many newcomers to our country can't read or write well or at all..... MANY MORE immigrants are well-educated and do read well. The education system in this country is suffering mightily. It's why so many people scramble for alternative means, be it private school, online academies or homeschooling.
  8. by   rn/writer
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    I read in my college newspaper that ABC did some kind of report and it said 25 million Americans were functionally illiterate.

    That's one in 5 adults in this country.

    That means one in 5 adults can't do things like answer a Want-Ad or read the newspapers or follow directions or written instructions.

    Maybe not even read a good novel. :stone

    It just bothers me a lot. Reading and comprehension are something I've taken for granted. I mean, I can't imagine life without books! :uhoh21:

    And now it gets me thinking - how many of us pass out booklets and pamphlets and assume they'll know that it's all about?

    Like I said, it really bothers me.
    You're right that this is a serious matter. The numbers are off a bit, though. The census data for 2000 shows a total US population of approx. 280 million people. Eighty million of those were age 19 or younger. That leaves 200 million adults, give or take.

    25 million functionally illiterate folks would amount to 1 in 8. That's still way too many but we don't want to add innumeracy to illiteracy.

    Thanks for calling attention to this problem and reminding us that we can't just assume our patients can read. Nor should we take literacy for granted in our own lives. Heck, we wouldn't even be posting here if we couldn't read.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Nov 18, '05
  9. by   Roy Fokker
    Good points everyone.

    And rn/writer, youa re correct. If I'm not mistaken the numbers used were from 1994. Kinda old I know.

    I love reading. And I suppose thats why this thing just bothers me so much. You have some famous pop stars and artists who are funtionally illiterate - they earn millions with records but can't read bedtime stories to their kids!

    And some of them don't seem to be bothered enough about it to atleast try and remedy that situation while they can - and I'll admit to not being able to understand that attitude. I'm not saying that the person is a bad/horrible/idiot for believing like so - I just don't understand it.
  10. by   rn/writer
    I'm with you, Roy. Reading means so much to me. I have upwards of 3,000 books and have been haunting various libraries since I was a toddler.

    I read so much in second grade (to the exclusion of my other subjects) that the teacher banned me from the classroom bookshelves and told the other kids to snitch on me if they saw me anywhere near them. I just snuck stuff in from home.

    During the summer, the Bookmobile stopped about two blocks from my house and saved me from despair. The only rule my parents made about the number of books I could check out was that I had to be able to carry them home by myself. I wonder if they knew I was making more than one trip.

    I used to get raised eyebrows from librarians for seeking out books in the adult section. I don't mean "adult" in the lascivious sense, just that I was reading beyond my years and that really threw them. About as much as it does now when I hang out in the kids' section. I love Maurice Sendak and Madeleine L'Engle.

    Reading has helped me keep my sanity at times when ill health confined me to my house. Like an early version of the Internet, a stack of books could transport me to any locale on this earth and a few that weren't.

    I thank you so much for reminding me how much reading enriches life. Such a powerful tool and so easily used once you have the skills.

    Roy, you rock!
  11. by   Spidey's mom
    Miranda - your post took me back. My mom has always said I always had my face in a book. And the bookmobile!! I do so remember that. I've always loved libraries. One of the sad losses about our area is no real library. Rural parts of the county get short shrift.

    I was talking about this with some teachers recently and even though I know this, it is hard for me to believe. Some kids come to school without ever having had their parents read to them. Or point out colors. Or count things. Or sing the ABC song. The plop their child in front of the tv instead.

    I just can't imagine NOT reading to a child. It seems so fundamental - like eating or breathing. Counting out loud comes naturally - we always count how many cups of water it takes to rinse out the soap from my 4 year old's hair. We play counting games in the car . . I start at 1 and he says 2 and I say 3 and on and on to over 100.

    How can you not point out the color of the sky or the color of grass?

    Teachers have alot to contend with today - parents who don't parent and very dysfunctional families. While I'm an equal opportunity public school basher myself, I will say that they are handed a large job to do.

    steph
  12. by   rn/writer
    Hey, Steph. You rock, too.

    Beyond those early read-to-me years, it's important that kids see their parents reading. All my kids but one are voracious readers and I think that's due in part to the fact that there were books in every room of the house just waiting to be picked up. And that includes the flushable chambers which we refer to as our reading rooms.

    My husband wasn't much of a reader when we married, but he has morphed into one in self defense. When we go to the library, his stack is almost as big as mine although we're worlds apart in subject matter. He checks out books on woodcarving, fishing, origami, paper planes, reptiles--mostly non-fiction. Stuff I wouldn't read in a million years, but that's okay. It's still reading.

    On our trips to Ireland, we take an empty suitcase or two along and check out the second hand bookstores in Belfast and Dublin. This last time (Feb.), we brought back over 300 books for less than the shipping alone would have cost. Most were things I couldn't get here in the States and wouldn't have known about to order on line. It's funny. Many of the sellers gave me a deep discount (of course, I was buying 15 or 20 books at a crack), in part because they were book lovers, too, and were happy to see someone make good use of volumes that had been sitting all forlorn and lonely on the shelves. What I spent to buy these mostly used books would have run me three or four times as much if I'd tried to order them from home. The savings covered the cost of the trip. Hmmm. Maybe I need to tell dh it's time to save some more money.

    Our older son has yet to pick up the reading habit, but I think that's because he's just been too busy. He's never been one to sit still long. He's in his mid-twenties now, and I don't think he can keep up that pace forever. I hope he'll eventually discover the world of books, even books on tape.

    It makes me sad to think there are homes that don't have anything to read in them other than the TV guide. TV doesn't have to be the enemy. There are wonderful screen adaptations that make you want to run right out and find the original story. And there are stories that inspire you to track down other works by the same author. And look at the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. But watching TV without also reading is like hopping along on one foot. You might arrive at the same place, but it will take longer and rattle your brains along the way.

    I am very much looking forward to the December release of "The Bee Season." If you haven't read the book by Myla Goldberg, this is a wonderfully disturbing story. Nothing at all like I imagined from the title. I hope the film is faithful to the story, if not in all the details, at least in the intent. My biggest reservation is that I'm not a big fan of Richard Gere and his casting seems questionable at best. I'll reserve judgment, though. He's been able to make me forget that he's him in other movies. I guess that's what you call acting. Besides, without "name" actors (Juliette Binoche is in this, too), I'm sure this film would be consigned to arthouse obscurity.

    Bottom line is--I love reading. Long live Amazon, B&N, Half.com, and all the rest. Do you have Half Price Books anywhere nearby?

    Sorry about your little guy's bird. (Read about its demise on another thread.)
  13. by   mercyteapot
    I am on our state's Title V parent materials task force, and we are attempting to revise all the letters that parents receive to be family-centered (can do that) and written at a 5th grade literacy level (that's a little harder). How do you explain assessments for things like sensorimotor functioning and postural alignment without using words that many 5th graders wouldn't be able to understand? I didn't realize the rate of functional illiteracy was so high, but I do remember when I was in high school (many years ago) and had a teacher during my senior year that would make us read passages aloud. I was stunned to discover that some of my classmates had such trouble. I grew up in coal mining country, and between the lack of finances and the brutal winters, if I hadn't had books for entertainment, I might have been the first person to actually die of boredom.
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    I've been enjoying books all my life. (Steph lets discuss "The Kite Runner!) Still I grew up around people who didn't.We must be aware that our patients often can't read.

    My grandma was very smart. Born in 1893 she had to leave school in the 3rd grade to work the farm, including picking cotton.
    Few could read her letters becaus if she couldn't spell a word she started then just quit.
    Sometimes there would just be a letter followed by a period. We would have to figure out who or what 'J.' referred to. (Usually John or Janice or judge)
    She could read well and had a large vocabulary. Somehow she passed the literacy/history test to vote in 1921 and became licensed as an LPN.
    My husbands uncle couldn't read and basically could sign his name. He would ask a child, "I don't have no glasses. Could you read this to me?" He never signed anything until it was read to him by someone he trusted. He worked in a factory and put many of his sisterd kids through college.

    In 1965 my Grandma and I went to hear the great guitarist, John Hurt. He wouldn't sign autographs but would shake your hand. Having grown up with a trumpet player protecting his lip I thought he was protecting his hands from writers cramp. A friend said he didn't want fans selling autographs. Grandma said, "He's my age. I think he can't write."

    Recently I told my husband of my fond memory of Grandma telling him, "We enjoyed your concert."
    He took her hand in both of his, looked her in the eye, and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you maam."
    My husband told me, "She didn't really like the music that much. She just went because she loved you." YES!
    http://music.yahoo.com/ar-251994---M...ippi-John-Hurt
    http://www.mudcat.org/hurt.cfm
    http://www.vanguardrecords.com/Hurt/Immortal.html

close