The Relevance of American Literacy
- Friday, May 10, 2013
The desire for literacy and moral truth has lingered within us all since God created the earth. Adam passed on the Word of the Lord from generation to generation, in order that they might know what the Lord had done for them and worship Him in love and awe. Since creation, humanity has longed to both read and write, to pass on knowledge from father to son, mother to daughter, grandparent to grandchild. Because of this, we are taught how to read and write as young children so that we might absorb, comprehend, and apply the wisdom of our ancestors to our ever-changing lives. By learning what others have done before us, we are able to use critical thinking to guide our families in truth.
Many God-fearing men that strove to make America a place of great freedom understood the importance of literacy and moral truth. They understood the need well. Several of the Founding Fathers spent their lives poring over literature, and the wisdom gained from their reading helped inspire a yearning for change. Abraham Lincoln was one of those men; during his youth, he read all the books he could get his hands on. When he finished reading the books he possessed, he worked for his neighbors in order that he might borrow theirs. This provided a solid foundation for his education, and later on the books he’d read during his lifetime became some of the few advisors he trusted during his political career.
James Madison was another one of the Founding Fathers who busied himself with good literature and often consulted the written wisdom of his elders. When the Declaration of Independence was drafted, Thomas Jefferson pored over the works of John Locke and George Mason, using their insights to create a document that ensured the freedom of all future Americans. These men all understood this fact: literature is a very important tool, preserved through time as a way of conveying fact, truth, and wisdom. It was the first place anyone during that time went to get an education, and schools taught lessons which were based heavily upon structured texts that helped prepare students for life.
Fewer children nowadays are introduced to reading in a positive and encouraging way. Rather, at a young age, children are taught to use computer games and videos to aid their learning. References to books are becoming more rare, and some schools want to put even less focus on textbooks and more focus on video media. This prospect is disturbing.
The wisdom to be found in books is vast, and the less children are exposed to reading, the less they will ever desire to read at all. This lack of an appreciation of literature in schools manifests itself in the groans of students who complain when given reading assignments. These students fail to recognize the greatness hidden within the classics. They find these reading assignments boring or too hard to understand, and consequently they put little effort into comprehending their assignments.
This lack of interest is further encouraged within media. Television shows and other forms of entertainment teach youth that reading is “boring,” a “punishment” given by adults and teachers. I have seen children who fight against the idea of reading something. I have heard others claim it is a waste of their time. All these examples are marks of poor teaching from different sources, but the root of the problem lies in the home. The home is where teaching truly begins and then flourishes. Because of this, an appreciation of literature must start there.
The best way to fix this decline of interest in literature is to teach to the young, with prayer, an appreciation for reading. If a child is encouraged to love something at a young age, he is more apt to carry that same love with him as he grows older. This is especially true if such things are explained thoroughly and taught in a loving and uplifting environment.
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