Friday, September 28, 2007

The Power of Literacy

Spencer's Island Lighthouse....a beacon of light helping chart the course
Photo taken by my daughter, Labour Day weekend, 2007

"There is no greater joy, nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life." Sister Mary Rose McCready

I spent this afternoon on campus in a classroom delivering a workshop to a group of university students who have signed up to volunteer as literacy tutors for the school year. Some of them will be working within a school setting, but most of them will be involved in an afterschool homework program for kids who live in public housing. My role was to offer them a glimpse into the world where these children live and how their living situations impact their learning abilities in the regular classroom.
It was a bit of a daunting task given that I only had a short time with them. To try to choose a few main points out of all of my years I have worked in the field was difficult. It turned out that the prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings, the word "powerful" gave me a key to get started. And I started with a question.......

What can provide us with a feeling of being powerful and in some control over our future?
An Education

What is the most powerful foundational component of learning needed to successfully acquire an education?

Literacy. Being able to read and write.

If one can read and write and whole world is alive and open for exploration. Potential is an open book. Knowledge and the ability to access new knowledge is empowering, enlightening, life enhancing. It connects us to others in our communities. It allows us to express ourselves with others all over the planet. It opens doors to limitless potential.
From there, I led the group in a discussion on how to begin the journey with a child whose candle doesn't seem to stay lit and spoke of the power of listening...........listening to what is not being said.........listening interactively so the power of a connection between two new reading buddies will take hold..........using the power of listening to grow the connection, to build the trust, to engage the child in order to pass on the torch of reading.

Having the opportunity to be the one who lights the candle held by a child whose life has been dark because of the struggles in school, and the inability to learn at the same pace as his peers because of his/her environment or cognitive abilities is one of best gifts one person can pass on to another. That one new lighted candle then has the potential to glow for a lifetime. That one little candle has the power to impact another unlit candle and another and another.

One lit candle illuminates a lifetime of self directed learning. What is more powerful than that?


Crafty Green Poet said...

You're right, literacy gives power and is vital for that reason.

tumblewords said...

Excellent post! Well-written.

Amber said...

What a very wise post.
It is always education that makes a difference in a life, more than almost anything. I so agree.


Gypsy said...

To not be able to read or write would make the world a dark place indeed. To all those people who light the candle...I salute you.

Shaz said...

Its sad that there are so many people who are illiterate they miss out on so much. Wise words my friend xx

Kris said...

That is important work you are doing with the workshop for the tutors etc. Those kids need all the help they can get. Thanks for a great read.

forgetfulone said...

So true.