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National Editorials & Columns

Literacy develops as we experience all of life’s circumstances

Families create memories:  Whether we are good parents to our children or not, we can’t get away from the fact that we are their memories and memories cement family.  Good memories increase the child’s exploration of the world successfully; they help them deal with life and add to the lives of others. The more experiences a child enjoys, the more literate he/she becomes.

Language as a tool of communication organizes and interprets our experience and forms the building blocks for thinking.  Language also shapes our view of the world.

Talking to our children and reading to them is not all there is to literacy building.  We need to create memories and guide their experiences to broaden their view of the world.  Children with a variety of experiences can apply their background knowledge to better comprehend new things introduced to them.  Fear has less chance of holding them hostage and challenges greet them healthily so they are more willing to get up and try again.

Literacy develops as we experience all parts of life’s circumstances. The “Language Experience Approach” to learning is a good parenting style.  It means planning and providing appropriate age and ability related experiences and letting them interpret, enjoy and record them.

Each member records or dictates his/her thoughts about the experience.  Older children may journal their experience.  They or you write down what the younger children say about the experience.  From time to time share the writings.   It is amazing how people experiencing the same event see things totally different.

Another way to synthesize the experience is to create a scrapbook, a picture book, a DVD about the experience or any tangible display that reminds the family members of the experience — the more creative the better.

Write and illustrate a book using members’ stories soon after the experience.  A book “published” by a family not only warms the hearts, but adds vocabulary and teaches the importance of revising what we write.  Don’t leave all the teaching to professional teachers.  A child’s most important teachers are family.  (Some ideas gleaned from Cox and Krueger.)    

We are never too old to learn and create memories and Newton sponsors many opportunities.  I look forward to the upcoming Citizens Police Academy.  Law enforcement has always interested me and through the years in many places they have made my life easier and I know safer.  Where else but in America can we join hands and learn in a safe environment.  None of us realize the scope that law enforcement does for us.  Every profession has its woes such as the teacher jokes about having all summer off or preacher jokes about only working one day a week.  The work not seen is often the most important work of all. One worthwhile experience my high school sponsored included a one day course by state troopers; to this day, I use some of the things I learned there.  It’s made my driving better and inspired some safe practices when I’ve needed to be out alone at night.   That memory happened over 54 years ago.

Literacy Is Ongoing.  This sounds like a rerun, but it is so important.  Thomas Sowell in his August 2 article in the Daily News “The Tragedy of Isolation” stated “It (isolation) is a sweet-tasting poison.”  Today for those of us living in the United States isolation is a choice and not a good one.  We need not be isolated even if we are unable to physically leave of our home. 

I won’t try to restate Sowell’s points, but I hope you not only read the article, but digested it.  If you ever feel you are superior or inferior to any race or ethnic group, you might consider the isolation factor.  I haven’t had the opportunity to live abroad, but I have lived in the southern culture of the U.S., the western culture, and now the Midwest culture.  I’ve also lived long enough to see the tragic prejudice against my own heritage of Native American and Irish.  I’ve seen the horror of separate drinking fountains and what that means.  I’ve seen people squelch the lively heritage of Hispanics and Latinos.  I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of Asians.  I’ve also seen ethnic, gender, and religious groups mistreated.  I’ve overheard “redneck” jokes and “biker” insinuations as well as other slurs.  People are good or bad by choice in any race, ethnic, or interest group.  I pray I was never one of those who felt superior to another and hurt them in my ignorance.  My country is better than that.  According to my Christian faith I don’t have to like or agree with all people, but I do need to love them.

Sowell said, “Cultural isolation can also be due to government decisions…”  Is our government making decisions that cause isolation where people can not be all that they can be?  He also said, “Sometimes isolation is due to a culture that resists learning from other cultures.”  America was once called the “melting pot” which sounds wonderful, but before there was any learning from what immigrants brought into our country, there was much cruelty and prejudice.  Sowell also referred to intellectuals and some of their false findings.  Today, in America we have the right to be intellectuals and no matter who we are we can derive quality conclusions if we keep improving our literacy and our reasoning. 

Until next week…  Christine Pauley

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