Teaching the illiterate is about the future

Published 12:16 am Sunday, September 30, 2007

Look at Mr. Johnny and he looks perfectly normal. He’s dressed nicely. He has a good job, but he’s living a secret life. He works hard not to let his flaws show. Life is a struggle to save face.

Trouble, however, is all around him.

A trip to the grocery store can be a study in confusion, so many confusing signs and labels.

Email newsletter signup

Helping his son with homework is not a possibility. “Go ask your mother for help.”

“Want to read a section of the newspaper?” he’s asked.

“No thanks, nothing in that thing any way,” he may reply.

Sunday morning church service has always seemed to have something missing. Johnny can hear the word of God, but he cannot read it for himself.

Johnny is an adult, but Johnny cannot read well. Sure, he can write his name and struggle through a few words, but all of his adult life has been underscored by the need to save face about his lack of reading ability.

But he doesn’t have to be ashamed of anything.

Illiteracy may be the proverbial “600-pound gorilla in the room” of our community, but it doesn’t have to remain an invisible gorilla.

Through the work of such organizations as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, help is available. Functionally illiterate citizens can, and do, learn how to read.

They just need to know help is available.

And those doing the teaching need our community’s support.

Having an educated, more literate community is critical to our area’s success.

Teaching Mr. Johnny to read is more than just an effort to make his life easier. It’s about helping him to raise his children to appreciate an education and the ability to read well, too.