Literacy is the ability to recognize writing and reading. It includes the ability to understand not just writing but language in many different forms in modern times such as communication, numbers and pictures. Most of the beginnings of these languages arrived from early times such as in Egypt, Asian countries, the Middle East, Indian countries and early America for example.
It was important to record and denote information and data in some efficient way. Pictures and early numbers soon became early writing systems. Unfortunately many ancient texts and writing is lost from destruction of various civilizations.
Various cultures also write in different directions. Some write write to left while others do the opposite or even in a different direction. Gradually words have evolved into more abstract forms away from pictures and more into sounds although some languages may still retain some semblance to their pictorial form.
There has been great clues throughout history that has helped cultures decipher other cultures including archaeological records, inscriptions on artifacts and also the Rosetta stones that has largely helped transfer of information across many early advanced civilizations.
It is said that many people were actually good at reading and writing according to Wikipedia’s entry on Roman writing. And being able to read and write was essential to a cultured and civilized society.
Being able to read religious and Biblical text became essential and to changing life as we know it. One of the first notable acts was an early act that was both a little bit rebellious, a little be cutting edge at the time and also an attempt at battling disinformation and misinformation. This includes Martin Luther of the Reformation age.
Throughout history information has been withheld, censored and knowledge has been thought of as compellingly dangerous when against the “established order”. You have heard of the tree of knowledge or forbidden knowledge. You’ve probably heard also of Copernicus and Galileo Archimedes some of the greats, the rebellious and eccentric scientists out there. If it wasn’t for their ability to take in knowledge and readings and works or write their findings for future generations we would not have had the advancements today.
We didn’t understand Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in high school and dismissed the books somewhat but the undercurrent of the themes and other sources of entertainment such as an episode of Andy Discovers America, that is episode 23 of season 3 of the Andy Griffith Show where Opie Taylor (Andy’s son on the show) is few up with history and later discover that history and books are essential to learning the world’s secrets.
It is essential to know about reading and help your fellow man or woman learn. Not having enough knowledge is not good and leaves you behind and is a hindrance to you and society. Many people have forgotten the art and need for learning and in the olden days knowledge was reserved for the elite and cultured who who be given special education in weaponry, etiquette, horseback riding etc. Do you ever see British monarchy failing to teach their children proper manners and reading and education? No I don’t think so.
If you are to get further in the world you have to make the extra effort to do the things that others are reluctant to do or unwilling to teach you. Don’t become the adult that uses excuses that know one taught you or you didn’t need to know it because the book or teaching or lesson you don’t know will hurt you. Ignorance is not attractive and people don’t date or choose partners that are clueless and have less time to teach you. They just move on. Most people will never tell you what you’ve done wrong or if they do you’re lucky to at least know that so you don’t repeat your error and repeat history.
Another important point we’ve thought of is the idea of diversifying your ability to ready. What if one culture’s language died out? Not likely although Latin and some other languages may no longer really be used they are around and help you discern from the past. There is etymology to determine how words derived. The Internet has really helped the world in one sense in terms of increasing knowledge. It’s the modern day Gutenberg Press. But people now over-rely on spellcheck and phones and computers. We once had a coworker tell us that she did her math by hand and then checked it on the computer and calculator. It was an extra step but if you don’t use that knowledge you lose it. If you’re not constantly immersed in a foreign language you lose it. If you don’t practice your math and long division. You’ll lose the skill and so you have to keep practicing memory drills and games and passing on teachings or society’s knowledge will disappear. Many of the secrets of knowledge that existed in the early 1990’s at the outset of the Internet have disappeared because the knowledge wasn’t archived till recently with the Wayback Machine. Or people discontinued their servers. Or perhaps they were seized. Thank goodness for data backups and tape backups and the library and archivals and microfiche and hopefully we will continue to have paper print. What will happen when Babylon falls or EMP’s hit or technology fails? Do we have a designated survivor to continue our planet? Like Elon Musk and his Space Exploration or Blue Origin we need to think about our human knowledge as a whole. We need to archive and time capsule and appreciate this knowledge that we have already and work to be better and continue to learn.
According to Wikipedia again 2/3 of the people that don’t know how to read are women. And it worse was in previous generations. This is a shocking thing because a lot of social expectations are for guys to do certain work while females are told to care for people and do housework. A bit sobering this is. These things may be generationally taught and older generation might not know the advantage of knowing how to read. They may purposely hold back individuals out of pride or embarrassment of being shown up. Perhaps it was due to an agrarian society. Or it was religious teachings that influenced this line of thinking. Other cultures have boys with literacy problems more. And perhaps it’s a cultural thing. In some countries it is even worse and perhaps the educational system is not as good or learning to read is not seen as cool or perhaps a group has been oppressed for so long or has the reputation of allowing ignorance or no good role models or mentors that it continues that the inability to read or write persists and is pervasive in that culture.
There are many benefits to being able to read: social benefits, health and also the ability to train and get a job.
If you are able to read or go to a library that’s great… Some people learned just from reading Biblical text and reading through the whole thing and that was their only way to learn.
Knowing how to interact and understand social interactions is also another skill or knowing body language as opposed to hand signs and sign language.
If you can’t read you don’t have a back up as in close captioning for understanding what is going on. Knowledge about language and words helps you understand the world more also and better express yourself. Ever notice how frustrated a baby is when it can’t communicate?
People have an optimal language acquisition window and this is taught in linguistics classes about the Broca and Wernicke areas of the brain. With early teaching a child can learn languages and words quickly and be instilled with life long useful knowledge. Also a baby with sign language shows more satisfaction and less fussiness because they can sign and communicate with a parent often before speaking.
For some older generations they are able to read their own native language but unfortunately can’t read another language in a different country. It would be great if we could know multiple languages and have a way to easily translate.
If you can read something it also helps you from being scammed or being taken advantage of. It helps you read fine print. It helps you file declarations of identity theft issues or understand your legal rights.
You have to know how to read to be a programmer and also in many cases use software.
A lot of people can speak the language but not know necessarily how to write it. Maybe they can read or some other combination. Another thing is that some people have dyslexia which makes it hard to understand words and letters as things can look the same as other characters or out of place or reversed etc. But this has proven to be useful to some who can overcome the challenges such as Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank fame.
This article just touches basics. Obviously language and literacy is important. Some people have disabilities and are slower learners and need extra assistance and so we challenge you to recognize when someone does need a little extra assistance and look out for these people if you are in the customer service industry or even in a position to help and give a little extra help on the occasion to help someone understand or communicate or process their paperwork a little better and make their life smoother. Some people for instance were born in “feral” unfortunately due to abuse or didn’t get proper education and are able to mask their illiteracy or inability with another skillset and aren’t necessarily intentionally dull. Or a person that’s from another country may be an excellent gregarious class and funny speaker in a different home language but has a rudimentary elementary ability to speak or write. And you may ask, how is it a person can grow up and live to that point in life without ever learning to read or write or speak a certain way? We all have things that influenced our lives and that doesn’t necessarily mean we are dumb.
A few years back one of our staff worked as an educational assistant and one of the teachers for the children said that foreign speakers have a difficult ability to speak because it’s a process. The language such as English goes in their ear, they have to process and hear the message, then translate it to their own language like Spanish and understand it, then formulate the response and find a way to translate back to the other language again and actually vocalize the words. So that’s possibly why it may be slow or tedious. And they may not be rehearsed enough to do it at a rapid pace yet.
Another thing is that we have so much knowledge coming through we much discern and absorb and social media, Twitter and the news are great places to keep intaking knowledge. Be careful what you take into your mind though. Paraphrasing the well spoken Jim Rohn, you have to stand guard at the door to your mind. There is a lot of great knowledge. Some is dangerous. Some is good. Some is toxic. But too much censoring also or filtering and you get nothing in. It’s like the flow of water. If you cut off the flow you will only get a trickle and if you don’t have an adequate flow the balloon of your mind will never get full. Twitter and other places will arm you with knowledge and skills to fight misinformation and not get scammed.
There are leaks, there are other sites… There is knowledge out there. But if you can’t read or write or don’t understand that other language, you won’t have the ability to access that. And more than ever today, the war for information rages on and quest to best one another for knowledge and mental arms race continues.
Educate your self and get smart so you can wield the weapons or tools of knowledge when you best need it.