The cost of literacy
Poor literacy costs our economy billions of dollars. Literacy levels track more closely to economic success than years of schooling. According to some estimates, 40% of North Americans should improve their literacy.
Obviously society should invest in raising literacy levels. A recent project that reaches out to help people improve their literacy caught my eye.
“The Learning Center, located in the James V. Brown Library and supported by a $26,500 allocation from Lycoming County United Way, serves adults with a wide variety of skills and ambitions.”
“Last year, nearly 400 people from all over the county participated in programs offered by The Learning Center,”
“Currently, The Learning Center provides basic literacy and other instruction in reading, writing and math in a classroom setting or through one-on-one tutoring,”
These initiatives are wonderful but there has to be some way to leverage the activity of teachers and vounteers and bring economies of scale to literacy instruction, or there will continue to be only anecdotal improvement. The 40% level of people with inadequate literacy skills will not change. That is the opportunity and challenge represented by the new learning paradigm of Internet, electronic tablets, smart phones, and distributed, bottom up learning.
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