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The Cultural Legacy of the British Empire on Literacy – Part 1/2

In Not Broken, a five-part series, I pointed out a number of comparisons to show that America’s public school are not broken. In Part 5, I provided evidence that culture (Asian/Pacific; White; American Indian/Alaska Native; Hispanic/Latina, and Black—the US may be one country but it has subcultures and each subculture has its own unique characteristics) influences a child’s ability to achieve functional literacy.

After Part 5 appeared, it took a few days before I realized I missed an important comparison: the English speaking nations that were all colonized and ruled by the British Empire establishing links to a common culture.

The majority in each of these countries is White. The influence of that White dominated culture has much to do with the structure of the schools in those countries today and the way teachers are treated.

Note (to establish the dominant ethnic group and/or culture of each country):

In 2009, the census in Australia reported that 92% of its citizens were identified as White.

In 2006, the census in Canada reported that 67.32% of its citizens were identified with links to the UK, France and Ireland

In 2006, the census in Ireland reported that 94.9% of its citizens were White.

In 2009, the census in New Zealand reported that 56.8% of its citizens were identified as European.

In 2001, the census in the United Kingdom reported that 92.1% of its citizens were White.

In 2007, the estimate in the United States was 79.96% of its citizens were White.

For this comparison of literacy, I focused on six of the thirty-six English speaking countries that were once ruled by the British Empire.

The following information comes from a report published for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1994–2003. According to this report, we may discover the number of people in each of these countries lacking functional literacy skills (% aged 16–65).

Note: In addition, I researched each country to discover any reports that confirmed the reported percentages and in several countries, the percentage of adults that were functionally illiterate may be higher.

1. Australia = 17% (the actual number may be much higher)

However, it may be much worse in Australia than the UNDP report says. Brendan Nelson, Education Minister said, “About 30 percent of Australian children who are leaving the school system in Australia are functionally illiterate.” Source: ABC.net.au

2. Canada = 14.6% (the actual number may be much higher)

According to the two following quotes, the functional illiteracy rate in Canada may be much higher than what the UNDP reported: “About 42% of young adults age 16 to 65 scored below level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold for coping in society. Source: Vivele Canada

In addition, CBC reported on Canada’s shame: “Nearly 15 percent of Candains can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle and an additional 27% can’t figure out simple information like the warnings on a hazardous materials sheet.”

3. Ireland = 22.6% (the actual number may be a bit higher)

In addition, Irish Central.com reported, “The dumbing down of Ireland – 23 percent of males are illiterate. A Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study has shown that one in six Irish students has significant reading problems while 23 percent of Irish males have lower than “functional literacy.”

Then Independent.ie reported, “The horrifying figure of 24 per cent adult illiteracy was first published in an OECD survey in 1996, and put us close to the bottom of the international league. (In Europe, only Poland scored worse than we did.)

“But in the months prior to the publishing of the survey results, government ministers were at pains to deny the figures which were already filtering through.”

4. United States = 20% (this percentage appears accurate)

The Caliteracy.org report of the National Assessment of Adult Literacy in the United States says:  “After completion, this massive assessment revealed that only thirteen percent of American adults are proficiently literate, most of whom hold a college degree, while the majority merely have intermediate literacy skills. However, the population of adults with basic or below basic skills total forty-three percent according to NAAL research, which is far higher than those with proficient skills.

“In fact, the term “functionally illiterate” is frequently used to describe the estimated twenty percent of adults in the US who cannot perform basic tasks involving printed materials. Functional illiterates may have trouble filling out a job application, using a computer, understanding written instructions, reading a contract, and many other related tasks. Many of these citizens are not able to hold a job, and those who do work regularly have difficulty with occupational tasks and career advancement.”

5. United Kingdom = 21.8% (this percentage appears accurate)

6. New Zealand = 18.4% (the actual percentage may be much higher)

Education Counts.govt.nz reported that levels three and above on the International Adult Literacy Survey  (IALS) indicate “functional literacy” while Levels 1 and 2 indicate “functional illiteracy”.  The survey found that 45% of adult New Zealanders were in levels 1 and 2 for prose literacy, 50% for document literacy and 49% for quantities literacy (the average of the three is 48%).


If Josh Harden can read to his young children as he is dying, what is your excuse?

Continued on September 11, 2012 in The Cultural Legacy of the British Empire on Literacy – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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Not Broken! – Part 5/5

You may want to skip this page if you prefer opinions without facts used as support (this is known as hot air or natural gas).  I tend to support my opinions, some say, with too many facts (what I consider to be six cups of coffee).

There are more comparisons we should look at, and the first is comparing literacy in America with its northern and southern neighbors in addition to the top-ten countries with the highest reported high-school graduation rates.

In fact, there is another measurement that may be more meaningful than a country’s reported high school graduation rate. That measurement is functional illiteracy.

The United States and many other countries claim high literacy rates because the definition of literacy says, “The adult literacy rate is the percentage of people age 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.”

However, functional illiteracy means that reading and writing skills are inadequate “to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.”

Functional illiteracy is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or write simple sentences in any language.

For example, my older brother, (died age 64 in 1999) graduated from high school in the United States in 1953 and was considered literate due to the definition of literacy, because he could write and read at a second grade level.  However, he was functionally illiterate and never read a newspaper, magazine or book in his life. In fact, he could not fill out an employment application.

Now, let’s cast serious doubt on comparing high school graduation rates in America with other countries.

According to the United Nations Human Development Report, the United Kingdom, that reported the highest secondary (high school) graduation rate in the world, has 21.8% of its adult population age 16 – 65 considered functionally illiterate.

Switzerland, in second place for high school graduation rates has a functional illiteracy rate among adults of 15.9%.

Norway, in third place, has a 7.9% functional illiteracy rate among adults.

I could find no information on functional illiteracy in South Korea, fourth place, and Japan, fifth place.

Italy, in sixth place for high school graduation rates, has a functional illiteracy rate of 46% among adults

Seventh place Ireland has a 22.6% functional illiteracy rate.

Eighth place Germany has a functional illiteracy rate is 14.4%

Ninth place Finland’s functional illiteracy rate is 10.4%

Tenth place Denmark’s functional illiteracy rate is 9.6%

America’s functional illiteracy rate was reported as 20% among adults.

However, for a better comparison with a similar culture that has similar values and similar problems, I looked north to Canada and discovered that among adults aged 16 to 65, about 42 per cent scored below Level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold needed for coping in society. Source: Vivele Canada

In addition, the CBC reported on Canada’s shame, saying that nearly 15 percent of Canadians can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle and an additional 27% can’t figure out simple information like the warnings on a hazardous materials sheet.

For further proof that comparing high-school graduation rates between countries as a way to judge America’s public education system was and is wrong, in 2009, Canada’s high school graduation rate was reported as 78% but the country has a functionally illiterate adult population ages 16 – 65 of forty-two percent (more than twice that of the United States). Even comparing literacy rates is not a fair comparison between countries, for example, because in Finland most parents teach his or her child/children to read before they start school at age seven showing us that culture has a lot to do with literacy too.

However, in America studies show that 80% of parents never attend a parent-teacher conference.

What about Mexico—just south of the US.  According to Mexico’s 2010 census 93.7% of Mexican males aged 15 and older were literate compared to only 91.1% of females, but what about functional illiteracy?  Mexico comes close to Canada with 43.2% of its adult population aged 16 – 65 functionally illiterate as my brother was.

Compared to America’s closest neighbors, the public-education system in the US is doing a fantastic job. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but the overall evidence shows that America’s public schools do not deserve to be condemned as broken. Instead, the facts say that most of America’s public school teachers are doing the job they were hired to do while it is politicians that are telling them what to teach.

Another factor to consider is High School graduation rates by race/ethnicity in the United States

For the 2007-08 school year, 91.4% of Asian/Pacific Islanders graduated from high school (156,687); 81% of Whites (1,853,476); 64.2% of American Indian/Alaska Native (31.707); 63.5% of Hispanic (443,238), and 61.5% of Blacks (415,111). Source: U.S. Department of Education

Most schools have all five races/ethnicities represented in the same classrooms (the schools I taught in for thirty years did) with the same teachers. However, when the numbers are averaged, critics of public education blame the teachers.

When averaged, the graduation rate in 2008 was 74.9%, which makes the public schools seem to be earning a C while they are earning an A- for the Asian/Pacific Islanders and a B- for Whites.

Really? How can the same teacher be so successful with Asian/Pacific Islanders and Whites and not with the other ethnic groups?

This is the advise I told our daughter when she was in grade school: “The only excuse to fail and not learn in school is when students do not pay attention, ask questions, read, do homework, class work, etc.  There is no excuse. Even if the teacher is incompetent, a motivated student will still learn.” And she did.

In addition, the graduation rates increase when the GED is included with traditional high-school degrees. In 2009, the completion rates of 18-through 24-year-olds was: 88.3% white, 87.1% black, and 76.8% Hispanic. Source: U.S. Department of Education

If an Asian or White student is successful with a teacher, why can’t the Hispanic or Black student have the same success with the same teacher?  After all, the teacher is responsible to teach and the student is responsible to learn (or has this been forgotten).  If the teacher wasn’t doing his or her job, then the Asians and Whites should have graduation rates similar to Hispanics and Blacks.

Return to Not Broken! – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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The Magic of Literacy – Part 1/2

Visiting both mobile and brick-and-mortar libraries as a child turned me into an avid reader and a lifelong learner leading to my earning an Associate of Science degree, a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing in addition to a teaching credential—about nine years of college.

As a child, one of the grade schools I attended was across the street from my parents’ home, which brings me to the cultivation of my imagination. Books!


Reading at home is important too!

However, learning to read wasn’t that easy for me. Soon after starting school, my fate and my future hung in the balance. Experts at the first grade school I attended tested me and told my mother I would never learn to read or write. In those days, there was no term for dyslexia. In fact, the “experts” didn’t know about dyslexia.

Nevertheless, my mother made liars out of those so-called experts and taught me to read at home. How she did it is another story, and it didn’t hurt that my parents both loved to read.

Both my mother and father did not have the opportunity to graduate from high school. The Great Depression and other family tragedies were responsible for both of them dropping out to find jobs and contribute to their financial survival at the age of 14. My mother ran away from home and found a job as a waitress and my father mucked out horse stalls at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California.

Fast forward to me as a child that learned to love reading books, and once a week, a county library bus visited the grade school I attended.

Years later, I worked in the high school library and managed to read sometimes two books a day.  It was as if books were feasts for my imagination and soul. I read all the historical fiction I could find on the British Empire, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and American history. Then I discovered science fiction and fantasy, which led to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series. Later, I would add westerns and mysteries to the mix and eventually start reading literature at a much older age. As a child, I wasn’t ready for literature — not exciting enough.

Continued on March 12, 2012 in The Magic of Literacy – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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The Annual Autumn Teacher Blues – Part 3/3

All the negative media and criticism of “ignorant idiots” that public school teachers in the U.S. and their unions are failing America’s children doesn’t explain why the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), reported that between 19% and 23% of American adults performed at the top levels for each of the three literacy scales: document literacy, prose literacy and quantitative (number) literacy.

Sweden is the only country that scored higher.

Countries that have participated in the IALS are Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Chili, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungry, Italy, Norway, and Slovenia.

The IALS is an international comparative study designed to provide participating countries, including the United States, with information about the skills of their adult populations. The IALS measured the literacy and numeracy skills of a nationally representative sample from each participating country. Source: NCES.ed.gov

As I was writing about the IALS, I thought if this survey had been widely reported in the media as much as the 2009 PISA test results were, the media and critics of U.S. public schools would look for statistics from this survey that were negative and report the glass half empty and never mention the glass is more than half full.

From Retaining Teachers.com, we learn how tough it is in America’s public schools from the teacher turnover rate.

The same stress that causes PTSD in teachers that stay in education may also drive qualified teachers away.

Ingersoll (1999, 2001, 2002a) proposed the schoolteacher hiring and quitting cycle is a revolving door.

Ingersoll (2001) analyzed national data and concluded the teacher shortages in public schools is not because of teacher retirement but a revolving door in which almost half the new teachers leave within five years, while another study (Barbour – 2006) found that shortages of well-prepared teachers in public schools exist because 22% of new teachers leave within five years.

However, another study found that 28% of teachers that left self-reported they would return if school conditions improved (Futernick, 2007)

Return to The Annual Autumn Teacher Blues – Part 2 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 10/10

If you visit the 2010 API State Report for California, you will discover there are four subgroups that have achieved the goals set forth in the NCLB Act — Asian, Filipino, White/Caucasian, and a child of two or more races meaning parents from two different Ethnic/Racial groups where the mother may be African-American and the father White or the father Asian and the mother Latino.

I know from experience that for my brother, the learning equation (discussed in Part 2) was 1 + 0 + 0, which resulted in failure and an illiterate child growing up to become an illiterate adult. The teacher was there to teach but my brother was not there to learn.

When I was seven and my brother seventeen with some jail time already under his tattoos, my mother stepped in and taught me to read at home, and it was not easy for her. I fought her every inch of the way as my brother did. The difference is that my brother won that battle but lost at life.

However, to succeed with me my mother did something she did not do with Richard. She used a wire-coat hanger to spank me and motivate me to do as I was told and to learn.

Public school teachers in America are not allowed to do what a parent can do at home.

The result is that I learned to read and because of my mother’s involvement in that learning equation, I now have the ability to write things such as my novels, posts for this Blog and I enjoy reading books–lots of books.

Richard, on the other hand, died a broken man in both health and spirit at age 64, and he left behind several children mostly illiterate because he was a bad role model and was never involved in their educations, which resulted in more failure.

If you return to that NPR.org piece on the public school teachers and administrators that cheated on Atlanta’s standardized test results to make it look as if more students were making progress toward meeting the goals set forth in the NCLB Act, what caused that behavior was desperate people that did not want to lose their jobs due to the flawed opinions of fools in the federal government and of course among the Walton Wal-Mart family and talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and my “old” NLBC  friend that believe they know what they are talking about when they don’t.

I do not blame my brother Richard’s teachers. They did their job and taught. However, Richard did not learn because he chose not to learn and our parents were not directly involved in the process when Richard needed them to be tough and say no and mean it even if it meant using a coat hanger as an enforcer.

During those 30 years teaching in the public schools (1975 – 2005), I met many students like my brother Richard and my goal was to convince and/or motivate these individuals (both boys and girls) to be an active part of the education equation. It was never easy and the successes were rare but there were a few.

Return to Eager to Learn or Not – Part 9 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 9/10

During the 30 years that I taught English, reading and journalism in the public schools, I worked with thousands of students from every ethnic and socioeconomic group.

My family, although of White/Caucasian heritage with roots to England, Ireland and Europe would have been placed in three of the categories that the Academic Performance Index (API) identifies.

My brother and I would have been labeled as White (Caucasian), Socioeconomically Disadvantaged and Students with (learning) Disabilities.

A student that is labeled “Socioeconomically Disadvantaged” is defined as “a student neither of whose parents have received a high school diploma or a student eligible for free or reduced-price lunch program”.

A “Student with Disabilities” is defined as student who receives special education services and has a valid disability code on the student answer document (or) a student who was previously identified as special education but who is no longer receiving special education services for two years after exiting special education. This student is not counted in determining numerical significance for the SWDs subgroup.

The API monitors and measures the schools to see if the NCLB Act’s goal of reaching an average and/or norm for all Ethnic/Racial subgroups that is 800 or better on the API is being met.  Failure for schools and teachers to reach this goal for all subgroups may lead to being fired and/or having schools shut down while students will be bussed long distances to schools that have been successful.

For 2010, in California, the norm/average for Students with Disabilities was 544; for Socioeconomically Disadvantaged that norm/average was 701 while the norm for White/Caucasian was 842.

During the thirty years I taught in a public classroom, the subgroups that (on average) resembled my brother Richard and I are found mostly in Black or African American (API 676) and Hispanic or Latino (API 706) subgroups.  Source: 2010-11 APR Glossary-Base API

Continued on July 21, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 10 or return to Part 8

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 8/10

Did you know that the Walton family, which owns a controlling interest in Wal-Mart, is the wealthiest family on the planet with an estimated worth of more than $90 billion dollars. The Waltons are also one of the largest supporters of the school voucher movement.

The last time there was a major initiative in California for school vouchers, the Waltons (WFF) were ready to open hundreds of private storefront schools to accept vouchers and take over the teaching of millions of America’s children. Do you want to turn your children over to Wal-Mart and the Walton family?

Both the Walton family and the company (Wal-Mart) have made education a major funding priority.

Many of the WFF’s education gifts have a distinct ideological tilt, emphasizing a “free market” approach to education reform, a vision the late John Walton embraced with particular enthusiasm. The WFF funds advocacy groups promoting conservative school “reform” — otherwise known as privatization — like the Center for Education Reform and the Black Alliance for Educational Options, as well as the actual programs these groups champion: charter schools and voucher programs.

In fact, the WFF has become the single largest source of funding for the voucher and charter school movement.

The modern movement for school vouchers can be traced to an individual by the name of Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.  Friedman wrote a paper on “The Role of Government in Education” in 1955.

The national debate that followed resulted in the use of vouchers in the Southern states as a means to continue the practice of segregation amongst black and white students. Source: School Vouchers

Continued on July 20, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 9 or return to Part 7

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 7/10

It is a fact that my “old” friend the neoconservative, libertarian, born-again Christian (NLBC) and the authors of the No Child Left Behind ACT (NCLB) along with tens of millions of other Americans, would reject with ignorant laughter the opinion and argument that I am offering.

My old NLBC friend will claim that I have been brainwashed by the liberal media and am singing the same old arguments, which are based on my personal experience, reliable sources and facts.

However To “old” NLBC, that does not count.

In fact, instead, people such as NLBC will turn to totally biased and often-misleading conservative talk-radio hosts such Rush Limbaugh and conservative politicians that have judged public school teachers guilty, while ignoring the responsibility of students and parents in the learning process.

In addition, the authors of the NCLB Act from both major political parties had to believe that “all” children are eager to learn without any consideration that there will be students who will not cooperate or do the cass work a teacher assigns.

Eager to Learn or Not – Part 10

leading to the average American child of today spending more than 10 hours of his her daily time either watching TV, listening to music with an iPod bud plugged into ear holes, playing video games, spending time on Social Networking sites such as Facebook, and sending endless and mindless text message from one cell phone to another.

The same lack of parenting has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among today’s children, which also affects the brain’s ability to function and learn.

No matter what the facts are, my “old” NLCB friend, and the elected officials that authored the NCLB Act will continue to believe that the public schools in America have failed. They will believe public education is a fraud and teachers are not teaching because that is what they keep hearing from conservative talk radio and/or conservative Blogs and Forums.  These people will never admit that too many students are like my brother Richard who refused to cooperate with his teachers to learn what the teachers taught.

To my “old’ NLCB friend, school choice and a voucher that pays private schools run by the private sector is the “magic pill” that will fix all of America’s problems and he isn’t alone. Millions agree with him such as the Walton family, the wealthiest and one of the most powerful families in America today.

Continued on July 19, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 8 or return to Part 6

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 6/10

After turning 18 and gaining the freedom he wanted, my brother Richard worked long hours at low paying jobs to earn enough to pay the bills so his family could have a house in a barrio infested by street gangs, which was the best he could afford.

Without the education that Richard spurned, he could not afford a better place to live, since he could only work at unskilled jobs such as digging ditches and/or mixing concrete alongside men that spoke mostly Spanish that also did not read English.

By the ime Richard was in his fifties, his feet were ruined and he had pins holding the bones together so he could hobble about while surviving on disability from Social Security.

In his fifties, to stay out of jail after another DUI, a judge told Richard to enroll in a literacy class but my brother often fell off the wagon and skipped class to drink and chase women on the weekends while his wife stayed home to take care of their many children.

America’s community colleges offer literacy classes and American libraries offer free literacy programs but to take advantage of them, the individual must be willing to be there and learn what is taught.

In fact, finding a literacy program today is easy. All one has to do is use LINCS to find a program in his or her area or go to the nearest public library and ask for help to find the nearest literacy program.

My brother’s children, like their father, who was their role model, were not eager to learn either and mostly followed the father’s example, which helps explain one of the reasons many children and teens in America do not learn what teacher’s teach.

The reason my brother didn’t learn was because of his attitude toward work and fun and the fact that he had dyslexia, which meant Richard would have to work harder than most children. He chose to give up.

However, that is not an excuse. I also have dyslexia but that did not stop me from learning to read as it did him.

For Richard, schoolwork wasn’t fun, but drinking, hanging out in bars, smoking, and chasing women, even after he was married with children, was his “pursuit of happiness”.

The reason I am writing this series of posts is because that “old” stubborn friend that is an evangelical born again Christian that listens to too much conservative talk radio and reads too many conservative Blogs is also a neoconservative libertarian that firmly believes the public education system in the United States is corrupt, which is the reason children do not learn.

However, the truth is that between 93 to 99% of the teachers are teaching what they are supposed to teach, but too many students are not learning, and the reason these students don’t learn is because of choices made in the “pursuit of happiness”.

Continued on July 18, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 7 or return to Part 5

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 5/10

An “old” friend (with a closed, rigid and voluntarily brainwashed mind) sent me a link to a post from Minding the Campus where Herbert London claimed there was fraud up and down our (public) education system.

To support his opinion, London quotes Charles Eliot, who was the president of Harvard (what London doesn’t say is that Eliot was born in 1834 and died in 1926 well before the birth of today’s modern public education system).

A lot has changed in America since Charles Eliot said, “the freshmen bring so much in and the seniors take so little out.”  Yes, this is the phrase London interpreted to mean public education is a fraud.

In fact, I am going to use sugar consumption as one example of how much has changed since Charles Eliot was born and died.

The New England Primer.com says sugar consumption in the 19th century was about 52 pounds per person a year in the UK.  In 2003, that consumption was more than 150 pounds, and we know today that too much sugar in the blood causes havoc to the brain affecting a child’s ability to learn, which will be another subject of discussion in another post at another time.

Herbert London says in Minding the Campus, “At the elementary school level it is simply embarrassing to have a large number of students leave illiterate or semi-literate.”

My response to London is to offer up my dead brother Richard as an example of one of those illiterate students.

After you get to know my brother, you will learn why he left school illiterate and stayed illiterate his entire life.  Richard died December 1999 at 64.  If he had lived, he would be 76 today.

From an early age, Richard had no desire to do the work it took to gain an education. He fought our mother, father and his teachers from kindergarten until his last year in high school.

By the time he was in high school, he cut classes as often as possible to hang out with friends and have sex with his girlfriend of the moment. He went as far as to have a friend or girlfriend forge excuse notes or to get the girl friend of the moment to call the school and pretend to be our mother, which was easy since our parents both worked and were not home to catch him in the act.

That was what Richard wanted — to have a good time and as much sex with as many female partners as possible, which led to excessive drinking, smoking and drugs and a painful death after spending 15 of his 64 years in jails or prisons.

Richard died at 64 riddled with cancer and heart disease.  While he was 64 chronologically, his biological age was more than a hundred.

My brother never had a desire to read, to do homework or to study. In that education equation I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, Richard was a “zero”. The opportunity to learn was offered to Richard, and his teachers taught what they were required to teach, but Richard was the horse that refused to drink water.

Continued on July 17, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 6 or return to Part 4

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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