Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Adult Literacy Style

Before reading this week's World of Good (WOG) post, imagine being an adult and having no checking account, no newspapers, no Internet, no books and no ability to fill out a job application. Imagine the fear and despair of such a life.

This week's WOG post is kind of self-serving. This week the topic is adult literacy. How is this self-serving, you ask? Well, we need more literate people in order to have more readers of The Scratching Post!

An adult literacy volunteer and a student search the classifieds for a computer so they can have access to The Scratching Post.

When I started researching this subject, I figured there would be a national organization and some local volunteers. I had no idea of the amount of time and effort that had been put into this. What is most impressive is how they've been able to continually improve their services through research, publications and training. When you volunteer to work in adult literacy, you are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Over at The Knowledge Loom, there are links upon links of resources for people who are helping others to read. Sharing Success is a publicly funded organization that attempts to replicate successful education practices around the country. Literacy Online is another group working to provide resources for improving adult literacy, but their scope is global.

This is a great example of how the Information Age is accelerating improvements in education. Prior to the advent of these resources, sharing teaching improvements was done in seminars, conferences and in publications. With sites like those listed above, each of which links to many more, the collective knowledge of thousands of professionals is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All of it is there to help volunteers bring the written word to those who can't read.

That's quite an infrastructure of kindness, don't you think?

Just who is on the receiving end of this compassion? Here are a couple of stories taken from Literacy Volunteers of Broome/Tioga Counties, NY.

Steve (not his real name) is 58 years old, married for decades to his high school sweetheart, the father of a high school honor student, gainfully employed with a reputable company…and had a secret he kept from most people. Steve could not read.

At the age of 52, Steve decided to get the help he needed to make a difference in his life. He called Literacy Volunteers of Broome Tioga Counties in 1993, was evaluated, and matched with a volunteer tutor who still meets with Steve regularly.

Over the past seven years Steve has progressed from barely reading the simplest materials to reading chapter books without assistance. His tutor still assigns weekly worksheets for homework. He reads the newspaper and has become interested in local history with his newfound skills. Most importantly, he has more confidence in himself.
Imagine the feeling of the volunteer who helped him read. I've managed kids' baseball and soccer teams and the best feeling for me was watching the kids with lesser skills do well. The joy on their faces always delighted me. The feeling of helping a grown man overcome illiteracy must be quite a rush!

Hong, manager of a local dry cleaner business, has lived in the United States for only a few years. With the help of his tutor, he passed his licensing exam for New York State Dry Cleaners Operator and plans to expand his business.
How many of us will be working for Hong in the near future? :-) Seriously, though, what an enormous amount of drive the guy must have. Wouldn't it be great to be a part of his success?

If you want to volunteer as an adult literacy teacher, organizations across the country are standing by to welcome you in, train you and match you to a student whose needs best fit your abilities. A quick Google search on "adult literacy san diego" instantly found a page of contacts to pursue.

Training for adult litereacy volunteers is readily available.

Don't you want to be there when Steve learns to read?

For more information on our WOGs and a request for assistance from the staff of The Scratching Post, please see this post.

Joe over at A Tic in the Mind's Eye has his WOG post up, too!

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Best wishes until next week,
K T Cat


cruxley's mom said...

Hi! I found your link on Oreo's Web site. I'm a literacy volunteer too. (I'm Cruxley's favorite human...he doesn't know I'm posting in his name.) It has its challenges but it's very rewarding, and I've made a good friend. The folks who need help are hard-working people who are trying to better themselves. Some need help reading, some are people who can't speak English but desperately want to. Thanks for helping to spread the word about this volunteer opportunity -- even if you are doing it to get more blog readers! (You just got one!) Cruxley and I will be back. Come visit sometime!
(sorry this is so long -- I just got all excited.)

K T Cat said...

Cruxley, I am so glad you enjoyed this. I'm not doing this to pick up readers, although I work hard to do just that. I truly believe that kindness is what drives civilization and human advancement. I also believe that not nearly enough people realize it nor do they understand how common it is.

Kindness needs an advertising agency. :-)