A persuasive speech based on intergenerational illiteracy.
A.When mama can’t read: Counteracting Intergenerational Illiteracy
By: Kathleen S. Cooter
1.Dr. Kathleen Spencer Cooter is a Professor of Early Childhood/Special Education at Bellarmine University in Louisville Kentucky. She was an Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of Memphis, also served as the outreach coordinator for the New Teacher Center a project in conjunction with the Memphis City Schools to enhance teacher retention in urban schools. Professor Cooter was a principal investigator for the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) serving the needs of children of over 3000 families in West Tennessee.
Prior to joining the Special Education faculty at the University of Memphis, Dr. Cooter along with parents and committed community and university leaders raised $3 million and founded the Texas Christian University RISE School, a special school serving the needs of infants with Down Syndrome. In 2001, Dr. Cooter received the “Employer of the Year Award” from the Forth Worth business community for her success in employing adults with Down Syndrome as staff members at the TCU Rise school. Cooter directed the teaching and research activities of both TCU’s laboratory schools. Prior to leaving TCU in December 2003, TCU announced that a new wing would be added to the Starpoint School as a gift from a grateful benefactor and named in her honor.
Professor Cooter served for twenty years as a teacher and administrator in both private and public schools serving children with learning needs. As a teacher, Dr. Cooter worked primarily with special education students in preschool, elementary, middle and high school settings. Cathy also held numerous administrative positions serving as an elementary principal, intermediate school principal, a central office special education director, and a middle school assistant principal. For the past eight years Dr. Cooter has served as the lead professor in a popular course developed for practicing school leaders in Texas and Tennessee know as the Principals’ fellowship. This program has been credited with turning around low performing schools’ reading and writing scores.
2.Kathleen Cooter’s Professional Background:
University of Memphis
National Association of Laboratory Schools
New Teacher Center
Board Memberships and Affiliations:
B. I chose to write about this article because each day I am torn to see how many kids are affected by generational illiteracy, which denies them a chance to become positive and productive citizens in their communities.
C. This article focuses on the intergenerational illiteracy. This is a social cultural phenomenon where illiterate parents hinder their children’s reading and writing development, which can continue a cycle of illiteracy. Intergenerational illiteracy often exists in high-poverty urban and rural settings. Among the factors that can cause it are a lack of language examples, little child-parent interaction and lack of print materials. In the U.S., school districts try to bring illiterate or semiliterate parents literacy programs. However, the strategy fails due to several factors such as job requirements, cultural beliefs and lack of financial resources.
D. Points of the article I will be discussing;
1. Contributing factors to intergenerational illiteracy
2. Strategies to help mothers
3. How teachers can help
The need to counteract intergenerational illiteracy is prevalent not only internationally, but amazingly still needed in the United States. If you thought this problem was eradicated when the Civil War was over and a whole race of people were denied even basic education remember this denial of education reached to women of all races and any person of color including Blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics and anyone outside distinctively Caucasian. Not only did the problem not disappear, it is still a problem in today’s world.
I offer you today some research-proved answers to a basic question facing many urban reading teachers: What can a mother with limited literacy skills do to support and enhance the literacy development of her children?
Intergenerational illiteracy is a sociocultural phenomenon whereby illiterate parents in advertently have home conditions that can hinder children’s reading and writing growth, which in turn caused a cycle of illiteracy.
Often found in high-poverty urban and rural areas, it is common for teachers to discover three or more generations of a family have low literacy skills. . In these homes are a lack of strong language examples, insufficient child-parent interaction, and lack of quality books, magazines or other printed reading materials.
By no means does this imply parents who are illiterate or semiliterate do not want their children to develop competent reading and writing skills. Many people in the United States must hold several minimum-wage jobs simply to keep shelter, food and clothing for their families. As a consequence, this robs them of valuable time with their children. This also limits their ability to obtain quality preschool education for their toddlers inhibiting sound learning patterns in their children. Many may still hold the culturally supported belief that children should leave school to add to the income of families.
According to Dr. Cooter, one strategy often attempted in large, poor urban or rural school districts is to bring illiterate or semiliterate parents to functional literacy in order to help their children. These attempts are difficult at best. While they are admirable, the majority of parents who enroll in such programs drop out within the first month. The United States Department of Education found in 1991 that 50-75% of the 3 million adults annually enrolled in literacy programs fall into this category.
Why? Job requirements, cultural beliefs, lack of time, lack of financial resources scarcity of services, and travel restrictions keep many of these parents from using the reading strategies recommended for their children to excel or even attain basic literacy skills.
Another problem America faces in the problem of illiteracy is the number of teenage parents it has. In 2005, Burgess found teen mothers as a group provide less oral language stimulation than older mothers to their babies and toddlers. This only serves to increase difficulty for the child to learn to read and write.
Research verifies the children of parents existing at the poverty level generally have fewer words spoken to them. Less educated, lower income families talk less and use fewer differentiated words than do those in other socioeconomic classes according to Hart 7 Risley in a 1995 report and Hoff-Ginsberg in their findings of 1991. Increasing the number of words spoken to children is a powerful literacy tool.
Rather than intergenerational illiteracy being a choice made by parents it is a predicament. It is not something parents want for themselves or their children. So if this is the case, and “literacy is the gateway to social justice and opportunity,” what can teachers do to help these struggling mothers assist their children in becoming strong readers?
Research upholds that a parent’s inability to read and write well is not a factor in their ability to support their child’s reading ability. Teachers must concentrate on what these parents can do. They should stress their strengths as literacy partners.
Dialogic reading is one of the most powerful and promising of the things these parents can do to increase the skills of their children. So what is dialogic reading? It is a parent and child with a picture book and exploring the treasures it holds. The parent allows the child to “read” the book to them. While it is preferable that a parent first read the book to the child then allow the child to “read “ the book back to them by talking about the pictures on each page it is not absolutely necessary that the parent be able to read at all. As each page of the book is explored, have the child tell the story based on what they see. Let them make up the story. Have a parent ask the question, “what” often. As the parent listens they can offer new words to the child’s understanding. As a result, this improves the length of children’s sentences. Vocabulary becomes more complex and expressive.
Teachers should recommend to parents who are limited in English literacy to visit the local library if at all possible. Most offer reading programs not only for children, but parents as well.
Another tool is to increase mean length of utterance. Mean length of utterance is the average number of words spoken together. Parents who speak in longer word chains initiate a learning process to their children to make longer, more complex sentences when speaking.
Parents who read or talk through books that they can touch increase their child’s questions and length and number of utterances. This encourages reading development.
Parents who set aside time to talk to their children provide long-term positive effect on academic literacy development. Play including both mother and father increases positive language gains in children.
Toys can serve a boost to a child’s learning as well. Using toys produces more spontaneous utterances.
If a parent can read, reading aloud to a child is a huge boost. If they cannot read, again make up a story based on the pictures seen.
When books are not readily available parents can use magazines, comics or even catalogs. Who does not receive catalogs in the mail? This will stimulate a child’s language, vocabulary and storytelling skills.
A proactive teacher can do much to help illiterate mothers help their children:
• Let the mother know she can help her child simply through talking.
• Have her teach family values to the child on the uniqueness of their family through the spoken word.
• Teach her how to use books to make up stories for her children.
• Teach her dialogic reading techniques.
• Teach her that speaking in long sentences models strong language skills for her child.
• Teach her to be responsive to her child’s speech and language.
• Teach her how to use play and speech together.
• Urge her to tell family stories and teach songs.
• Have her point to items as she speaks to teach the child identification skills.
• Teach her that by talking and listening to her child helps the child become a good reader.
Using these tips, a mother can still be her childs’s first and best teacher encouraging strong literacy skills. These are relatively easy followed actions that can be done by anyone of any culture, any literacy level, or any economic level. Dr. Cooter has offered doable suggestions for counteracting intergenerational illiteracy.
WhenMama can’t read: Counteracting intergenerational illiteracy by Dr. Kathleen S Cooter, Reading Teacher, Apr. 2006, vol.59 Issue, p 698-702, 5p, 1 Illustration; DOI:10.1598/RT.59.7.9
Website: Zoominfo.com: Business Profile of Dr. Kathleen S. Cooter
Website: literacyacademy.edublogs.org: Short bibliography of Dr. Kathleen S. Cooter