Friday, January 09, 2009

Illiteracy & Fake Books

Or, what You Can Learn About [Some] Americans By Looking in their Homes for 156+ Consecutive Weeks.

Funny how the timing in the cosmos converges on a topic...

Just yesterday I was chatting on Twitter about my abject horror that a Retail Store exists to sell FAKE BOOKS. I mean, how does one come up with the idea, "Gee I want to sell fake books & faux Libraries so people can appear to be literate. They can pretend to own a lot of books." The appearance of education without all the hassle and expense. Terrific. No wonder non-western nations think westerners are stupid.

Don't bother acknowledging the fact that these books do not look real -- to anyone whose vision is better than 20/70. If you walk up to the books in an attempt to pull one off the fake shelf, you'll stub your fingers mashing them into the wall.

Then along comes a story on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (9 Jan 2009) reporting that ILLITERACY in the USA is UP !! The US is 15th-- BEHIND other industrialized nations, in literacy rates for its people. Umm, what happened to "No Child Left Behind" ?

So, in addition to botching the response to 9/11, creating a War of choice and torpedoing the US Economy, we are also falling farther behind other nations in Education-- specifically as it relates to teaching Americans how to read. Reading: a basic skill other countries apparently find necessary for a secure, safe, growing culture and economy.

8 years of leading by example, George Bush's " our children learning".

In three plus years of working in Naperville, IL (a so-called "affluent" suburb 25 miles west of Chicago) remodeling ugly, energy inefficient & poorly conceived bland homes, I CAN COUNT ON ONE HAND OUT OF 275+ homes that I looked at or worked on, LESS THAN FIVE HOMES HAD LIBARIES OR BOOKCASES IN THE HOME. Less than 5 -- including the bedrooms of their children ! And you wonder why the USA is 15th in literacy among industrialized nations ?

I was also stunned that very few homes we visited had much in the way of any kind of reading material. Some homes had the current, local paper. But very few even had traces of having subscriptions to magazines, hobby books, comics or magazines (especially of the news & education variety-- like Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, WSJ, NY Times etc.)

They had very little original artwork. Most times, walls had family photos or some stock looking landscape print. Their garages had cars that usually were late model -- mostly well maintained American cars. They had the latest and largest TVs, but not really any musical equipment or media in the way of CDs-- except in the kids' rooms. Furniture tastes tended to be American Country or colonial. Most homes, to my surprise, were free of clutter. (Most, not all.) That surprised me, maybe because I have more books, magazines, files & papers than I have shelf space for.
I was horrified (repeatedly) by the number of kids' rooms (including teenagers) that had few-- and in some cases, no shelves holding books (nor books stacked on the floor. Not even school textbooks.)

One of the clients -- who claims he was an attorney, actually had a faux Library (painted) on the 2nd floor wall, so it appeared (to other nimrods like himself) from the 1st floor entry that he had a library gallery overlooking the 2-story foyer. He was so proud of not actually having read a lot of books, but merely appearing to have read a lot of books. Except, the library/painting didn't look real. Whom was he trying to convince?

Is our Children learning?

© 2009