You Can Be Intelligent Yet Illiterate

I talk and speak about media literacy quite a bit. It’s a topic that I find fascinating, and the issues and implications surrounding the subject will be here as long as technology progresses. But there are two common misconceptions regarding media literacy and “regular” literacy that can be taken for granted:

Unfortunately, you can count the number of positive reality shows featuring Black casts on one hand. However, there is a bright spot with OWN’s Sweetie Pies, which features a Black family in St. Louis that runs 3 restaurants. In an episode last fall, there was a heartbreaking moment when one of its stars, Charles–the 22-year old nephew of the owner–admitted that he can’t read that well, and walked away from the camera with tears. He encouraged his 17-year-old cousin Andre to stick it out in school so his life wouldn’t be as hard as Charles’ is. (See a portion of this in the clip below.)

So many adults are illiterate, and it’s not their fault. Illiteracy is not caused by a lack of intelligence. (There are various kinds of intelligence.) It is often a result of outside factors or disabilities that can be addressed. Illiteracy is a problem that affects our entire society and not just individuals. Continue reading “You Can Be Intelligent Yet Illiterate”

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Whatever You Want to Be, Reading is the Key

Me and the girl are coming towards the end of our first month of homeschooling. I say “our” because although my daughter is the student, I am learning right along with her. The skills that I place the most emphasis on in our homeschool all have to do with literary skills: scripture memorization, reading aloud and other components of language arts (handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension). Never mind how I started this paragraph, ok?

The other day, an administrator at her STEM home study school* asked her, “Do you want to be a writer like your mom when you grow up?” She smiled politely and said, “No, I want to be a researcher.” There are quite a few things she’s interested in right now, including becoming the FLOTUS (who’s not inspired by Michelle Obama?), a detective’s desk assistant (“I don’t wanna catch the bad guys–that’s scary”), and a forensic scientist (probably not in that order). She is endlessly curious about her world and how things work, which is awesome. Also, I can always fall back on a quote from an interview with FLOTUS about family life for leverage when my girl doesn’t want to straighten her room.

It seems that we’re headed in the right direction. According to a statistic compiled by the National Coalition Literacy, family literacy is the key to setting up a child on the right path: a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors, such as neighborhood and family income.

Continue reading “Whatever You Want to Be, Reading is the Key”