It is estimated that around one billion people worldwide are functionally illiterate. This means that they cannot read or write well enough to function properly in society. The consequences of this are far-reaching and can be devastating for both individuals and society as a whole.
Functional illiteracy has been shown to have a number of negative impacts on health, employment, and overall quality of life. For example, studies have shown that illiterate adults are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems, earn lower incomes, and be unemployed. In addition, children of illiterate parents are more likely to drop out of school and struggle academically.
The human cost of an illiterate society is therefore significant. Illiteracy deprives individuals of the opportunity to lead fulfilling and productive lives, and it limits the advancement of society as a whole. In order to address this problem, it is essential that we invest in education and provide opportunities for everyone to learn.
In “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society,” Jonathan Kozol emphasizes how foundational knowledge is to societies and argues that a lack thereof can have dire consequences. He provides illustrations from real life showing the struggles people endure when they cannot read or write, making a case for why literacy matters.
Kozol begins by describing different types of illiteracy. Functional illiteracy, according to Kozol, is “not being able to read or write well enough to perform simple everyday tasks” (Kozol 2). This can include such things as not being able to fill out a job application or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle. Kozol argues that functional illiteracy is much more common than people realize, and that the problem is only getting worse.
He cites a study which found that “nearly one out of every five American adults is functionally illiterate” (Kozol 2). This means that, out of a population of approximately 200 million adults, 40 million are functionally illiterate. Kozol goes on to say that functional illiteracy has “serious consequences for individuals, for families, and for society as a whole” (Kozol 2).
One of the most significant problems caused by functional illiteracy is the lack of good jobs available to those who cannot read or write well. In today’s world, many jobs require at least a basic level of literacy. For example, a factory worker might need to be able to read instructions or a warning label, or a cashier needs to be able to count money and make change. Those who cannot meet these requirements are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to finding employment.
Kozol tells the story of Willie, a man he met while doing research for his book. Willie was functional illiterate and had been unemployed for years. He had tried to get a job as a janitor, but was turned down because he could not pass the reading test required for the position. Functional illiteracy not only prevents people from getting good jobs, but also traps them in low-paying, dead-end jobs.
Functional illiteracy also has a negative impact on health. Illiterate adults are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This is because they often have trouble understanding complex medical instructions and are less likely to seek preventive care. In addition, illiterate adults are more likely to be obese, since they may not be able to read food labels or understand portion sizes.
In contrast to content typically found in pulp fiction, other notable authors such as Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright would infuse their personal experiences within different settings in order to highlight the importance of knowledge.
Both men had witnessed first-hand how brutal and unjust life could be – for Douglass, he was born into slavery while Wright saw racial injustice all around him. Despite their varied backgrounds, both authors came to a similar conclusion: that knowledge is key in acquiring freedom and independence.
Lack of knowledge, or functional illiteracy, can have dire consequences on society as a whole. Functional illiteracy is defined as the inability to read and write at a level that allows an individual to function independently in society. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, approximately 30 million adults in the United States are functionally illiterate. That number has remained steady since the early 1990s despite efforts to improve literacy rates.
The ramifications of functional illiteracy are far-reaching and affect more than just the individual. Illiteracy rates are higher among certain groups, including low-income individuals, minority groups, and those with less education. This can create a cycle of poverty and powerlessness that is difficult to break.
They also feel, though, that knowledge may be a curse as well as a blessing. Kozol differs from the other writers in that he hasn’t experienced the same things that would cause him to believe that knowledge can also be seen as a curse. Because they have further information on the importance of education than Kozol does, Douglass and Wright begin educating him.
Wright went to school and learned to read, which allowed her to see the world in a completely different light. Douglass also became literate and used his knowledge to gain his freedom from slavery. They both believe that their literacy has given them power that they would not have had otherwise.
While Kozol may not see the direct correlation between literacy and power, he does see the connection between functional illiteracy and a lack of opportunities. He argues that an illiterate society is one that is condemned to repeat its mistakes. He believes that functional illiteracy is one of the main causes of poverty and crime. Kozol cites statistics showing that seventy percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. He also argues that functional illiteracy leads to a cycle of poverty and crime that is difficult to break.
This additional information will demonstrate how knowledge’s power may be seen as a curse, given personal experiences. The value of obtaining knowledge is that it provides a feeling of enlightenment, allowing one to feel free. Those who are uneducated are enslaved socially; restricting their human rights. Freedom in this form manifests itself in two separate time periods.
The first example is the functional illiteracy rates in the United States. The second deals with historically African American slaves and how they were able to break their chains of slavery through literacy.
The functional illiteracy rates in the United States are rather high. In fact, 1 out of every 7 adults in America are considered to be functionally illiterate. That means that they lack the basic reading and writing skills necessary to function on a daily basis. This not only puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a job, but it also limits their ability to understand complex concepts and ideas. As a result, they are more likely to live in poverty and experience other negative social outcomes.
Historical African American slaves were also limited by their lack of knowledge. They were unable to read or write, which made it difficult for them to communicate with each other and understand the world around them. However, some of them were able to learn these skills in secret and use them to their advantage. For example, Frederick Douglass was a slave who taught himself how to read and write. He then used his knowledge to escape from slavery and become one of the most famous abolitionists in history.