Wednesday, June 30, 2010

standing on my soapbox

Question by elementary/high school friend on Facebook who has a son 3 days younger than Abby: What age do you take kids to storytime at the library?

Variety of answers, but the one that really gets me is from a different high school acquaintance who answered "I say threeish. You want to get them started early. But you don't want them running around being loud to others." Three?!?! The English teacher in me is seriously bothered by that answer. It seems to me that it also speaks as a general view on the importance of reading and literacy in our society today, and that depresses me.

What's up with the devaluation of literacy in society? Every English teacher that I've ever talked to is still trying to figure out how to emphasize the life altering importance of solid literacy skills to young people. Kids see their parents "doing okay" insofar as they are not bankrupt and can buy toys (iPhones, scooters, cell phones) and think that they don't need to do anything that their parents never did. Kids have grandiose plans of working for their dad's business the rest of their lives. I'm cynical enough to connect these attitudes from my kids with the answer that I copied off of Facebook.

Food for thought stolen gratuitously from a recent parenting magazine:
Children in the middle class have at any given time an average of 13 books at their disposal.

Children in our society's lowest class have on average ONE book for every 300 kids.

This is a topic that I'm absolutely passionate about, not just because of my profession. It just seems so obvious to me. Literacy should not be indicative of class, but it is. Literacy should be a highly valued skill that kids should recognize as essential to their future success in life, but it's not. Sad.

Thus ends my soapbox rant.

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