Are you part of the new illiterate?

We, in america, overlook the fact that we may be illiterate by global communication standards? Have you ever met an adult who’d covered the fact of their own illiteracy for decades? Have you seen the movie Stanley and Iris? DeNiro plays an illierate who’s love interest teaches him how to read. I remember seeing this and thinking, “How did this person get by? Not able to read a newspaper, a government form, or basic directions for product assembly. Not even a bedtime story for the kids?” Check out these statistics. Evidently this is a massive problem.


Yet…people can function in a limited way for years.

I was raised by a reading consultant. I’ve created software programs geared to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. I’ve written over 35 early reading books for k-3 learners. I have a modest clue about literacy. Which is why I think you’ll find the following provocative:

You may be illiterate by today’s globally competitive communication standards. This is not a post about the failing school system, or the lack of parenting involvement in teaching our children to read, or adult literacy, at least in the traditional sense.

Media literacy is the new gold standard of sharing and communicating. It does not replace traditional reading/writing, speaking/listening but according to a survey conducted by the Canada Media Awareness Network 2006 students are downloading television, movies and music, instant messaging, enjoy popular websites like Wikipedia, use webcams, video cameras, digital cameras, and cell phones for communications, and have a larger educational video library in iTunes and on their iPod than most school libraries. This generation of learners is defining what “being literate” is for the rest of us.

Have you thought of video as text? Can you read filmic text? More importantly, can you WRITE in this text? Do you know the language of film? With the camera as pencil, and the home computer editing station/sound studio as paper, can you write so others can understand?

This “literacy” is upon us. Are you Stanley?


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