Inability to read alters daily life

The Macomb Literacy Project gauges a student’s reading level and then assigns materials accordingly. PHOTO/MICHAELA SCARSELLA

OU News Bureau

The inability to read and write is an issue that can prevent people from functioning in society and living productive lives.

Fourteen percent of adult Americans cannot read, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute. That number is not necessarily correlated with education either. Nineteen percent of high school graduates in the U.S. are illiterate.

Macomb Township’s Edna Armstrong grew up unable to read or write. PHOTO/MICHAELA SCARSELLA

Macomb Township resident Edna Armstrong, 72, is among those affected by illiteracy and knows all too well how much it can alter every aspect of daily life.

Armstrong said her school changed teaching styles, which left her and the rest of her second-grade class unable to read. As the years went on, Armstrong found herself unable to catch up. She began avoiding the issue and would hide in the bathroom when the teacher gave pupils in-class reading assignments.

“I couldn’t read my diploma,” Armstrong said. “It was really hard. What a struggle … and embarrassing. I didn’t want anyone to think I was dumb.”

Many activities that people take for granted become points of anxiety for those who cannot read or write. For Armstrong, that meant difficulty obtaining her driver’s license, skipping out on a college art scholarship and not voting until the presidential election in 2016.

“I went for driver’s training and I took it three times and flunked it three times,” she said.

The instructor asked what her issue was, and Armstrong explained that she could not read. The instructor gave the test orally, and Armstrong passed it on her first try.

Armstrong married soon after graduating from high school and found herself depending on her husband for such activities as planning trips, driving long distances and banking.

Armstrong credits her children for the discovery of “Sesame Street.” The children’s television show taught her how to properly sound out letters and put them together to form words.

Learning reading through tutoring

While Armstrong turned to television to help her learn how to read, many Americans receive support from their local illiteracy programs, such as southeastern Michigan’s Macomb Literacy Project.

Joan Katulski taught reading and writing through Macomb Literacy Project. PHOTO/MICHAELA SCARSELLA

Roseville resident Joan Katulski has tutored about 10 adults in metro Detroit in reading and writing through the project.

“Reading is directly related to your whole status in life — where you live, what kind of job you get, what kind of salary you earn,” Katulski said.

Katulski said potential students are tested to find their reading level. From there, they are assigned appropriate materials.

“People applying for these classes are people who have an ultimate goal like, ‘I want to get my license,’ or ‘I want to get my GED,’ ” Katulski said. “I had one student who worked part time for the county in Macomb. He was a guard in a parking lot. If he detained someone, he had to fill out a report, so he had to be able to read and write.”

Attendance is not consistent. The demands of job and family keep many from finishing tutoring. In one instance, Katulski tutored a husband and wife together to reduce tutoring time.

“If you can read, you can do anything. It’s nice to have knowledge,” Armstrong said. “My advice to anybody: Learn to read and always smile … and never take anything for granted.”

Armstrong said she can now sound out most words but is still not confident reading in front of others. If she had the ability to go back in time, she said she would have made every effort to learn how to read.


Short URL: http://www.ounewsbureau.com/?p=11595

Posted by on Oct 1 2017. Filed under Featured article, Macomb C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply