Learn how to plan and develop an Adult Literacy Program. I've spent nearly 20 years in adult education, 13 of those helping to found and run The Literacy Project, a community based adult literacy program in western Massachusetts. Much of this section and the next is based on personal experience, and most of the examples are out of my own work.
In general, my prejudices in this area run to collaborative management and to the concept of adult literacy as an extremely broad endeavor which embraces education, learner empowerment, and social change. Why start an adult literacy program?
How do you plan an adult literacy program? Inthe issue of adult literacy was highlighted in Illiterate America, a best-selling book by Jonathan Kozol. The book pointed out that most estimates placed at 20 to 25 the percentage of Americans reading and writing below the level needed to function in the society.
Illiterate America caused a sensation, and moved government to pay more attention to the issue.
For individuals, lack of basic skills can lead to unemployment or low-paying, dead-end jobs; to status as permanent political outsiders, with no opportunity to have their voices heard; and to the possibility of watching their children repeat the cycle.
For your local area, low literacy levels can affect economic development, diminish the effectiveness of local government and citizen participation, and place a heavy financial and educational burden on the school system.
For all these reasons, many communities support adult literacy programs. This section provides some information about adult literacy and some guidance about how to plan an adult literacy program.
The next section will help you to actually get your program started in the community. What is adult literacy? This may seem like a simple question to answer -- adults being able to read and write, right?
It encompasses reading and writing, of course, but at what level? A hundred years ago, people were considered literate if they could write their names, a qualification that would certainly be woefully inadequate today.
And what about math? To be literate, do you have to be able to at least add, subtract, multiply, and divide, so you can balance your checkbook and figure your gas mileage? Do you need a certain amount of general knowledge in order to be literate?
A lot of educators who use the term "cultural literacy" think so. How about people who can't speak or read or write English: And do you have an obligation to help learners understand how to use their literacy?
Components of adult literacy As you can see, adult literacy can be looked at in a number of different ways.
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In planning an adult literacy program, you have to consider all of them, and decide what your community needs and what you have the resources to do.
The areas that are generally referred to when adult literacy is discussed are: Written literacy might best be considered to be an individual's capacity to write what she needs to in clear and reasonably accurate language.
The teaching of English speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills to those for whom it is not the native language. Familiarity with the background knowledge that is everywhere in American culture. This can include everything from the great classics of western literature to knowing the names of Elvis Presley hits from the '50's.
The uses of literacy The uses of literacy also have to be considered in any discussion about the subject. Mark Twain said that someone who can read and won't is considerably worse off than someone who can't read, because the latter can be taught to read, while the former is stuck in ignorance.
It is the use of a skill that matters: So what do adults want to use literacy skills for? They wanted to improve their employment situations. Whether that meant gaining more responsibility on their jobs, becoming more competent at what they did, being promoted, finding a better job or career, or just being able to work at all, most learners felt that improving their skills could lead to improving their work life and finances.
They wanted to be better parents, spouses, and family members. Reading to children or helping them with homework, keeping better contact with faraway relatives, even writing love letters to husbands or wives were all cited as reasons for learning to read and write better.
They wanted to be better citizens, and to participate in the political life of their communities. Learners wanted to be able to read about and understand the issues in political campaigns or local controversies, so they could make their own reasoned decisions, and wanted to be able to work in their communities to influence or change the things they cared about.
As you plan an adult literacy program, you need to consider what learners want and need. Their motivation comes not from what you think they should have, but from what they see as necessary in their lives.
Often, as learners gain competence and confidence, learning itself may become one of their goals, and that is certainly to be encouraged.Dec 13, · A good personnel plan varies according to your business and business plan needs.
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