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Prosperous Illiterates
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #1
Prosperous Illiterates

Alright! I finally got my hands on this PhD Thesis from 1983 from Syracuse University.

This guy essentially studied a bunch of well off people who were functionally illiterate. Its been kind of a fabled gem for me since John Taylor Gatto made reference to it, having borrowed it from Pat Farenga who personally told me about how he permanently lost his copy.

Anyway, like "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", my plan is to share awesome quotes and post them on their own thread(s). I still don't have that book though...


To start off, this:
Quote:One thing of interest in this is that the skills normally taught in schools played a very minor role in the development of their careers. The key factors seem to have been the values, habits, and attitudes they learned from their parents.

In other words, if you have good parents your education can be irrelevant to your financial stability. If your parents are not so good, you're going to need something outside of them to teach you.

Oh you debaters about fate, have at this quote!

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
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(This post was last modified: 01-18-2017 05:27 PM by the Analogist.)
01-18-2017 05:25 PM
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

Boldness added for emphasis:
Quote:The prosperous illiterates have been able to learn job skills
without use of the written word. Each of the prosperous illiterates
is skilled in a number of areas. For example, a contractor among
them knows how to do roofing, carpentry, welding, masonry, and so forth.
In general, they learned their skills by trial and error. That is,
they observed as an expert demonstrated the skill, they got some
advice from the expert, and then they tried the skill themselves and
kept at it until the skill was learned.
In other cases, they just
learned the skill on their own, without assistance. The key element
in the learning wasn't literacy or even the particular method. It
was their desire and persistence.

In my Three Category System described in my "Musings" this is pretty much my exact definition of the 3rd category. I love it!

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
01-18-2017 05:39 PM
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

Quote:the skills needed for many jobs in America require a minimum of
training — certainly not years of schooling. Often, job skills are
learned on the job.

Everybody who defines preferences for who to hire is a scumbag. I am not sorry, you suck. Go home. You're a loser.

But this image seemed appropriate, before the days of educational inflation.

[Image: 16emyj.jpg]

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
01-18-2017 05:55 PM
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 Thanks given by: TheVanishingSnowDove
the Analogist Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

Quote:academic measures such as IQ, SAT, APL, and so forth measure only one small aspect of human competence. They do not measure general competence. No standardized test could measure that because general competence is a myth. Again, competence can only be judged in terms of context, and contexts vary enormously.

John Taylor Gatto, rough paraphrase, "The only thing a standardized test correlates with is the next standardized test."

Quote:Chapter 10 looks at various typical ways of "helping" the "undereducated" and concludes that they succeed sometimes and fail sometimes. To me, that conclusion disqualifies them as "solutions."

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
(This post was last modified: 01-19-2017 08:59 AM by the Analogist.)
01-19-2017 08:54 AM
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

Quote:There are no teacher-proof or student-proof
or parent-proof or school administrator-proof or... context-proof
materials or methods.

Quote:Just as there are no context-free ways of judging competence, there are no context-proof solutions to the problems that people face. To help people, we must get to know those people — their environment, their culture, their ideas, etc. People have particular needs. That's why generic solutions so often fail.

Quote:So we must learn to be responsive, and learn how to teach others to be responsive. In doing this, we might reassess the whole notion of "motivating students." Often, what we mean by that is: manipulating students in order to get them to do what we want them to do. One reason students are sometimes "unmotivated" is that we aren't offering them anything that they truly want. Again, we need to learn to tune in, and we need to respect the people we aim to serve.

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
(This post was last modified: 01-19-2017 09:13 AM by the Analogist.)
01-19-2017 09:06 AM
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 Thanks given by: TheVanishingSnowDove
the Analogist Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

I just got to his definition of "prosperous" and he defined it as making $20,000 or more a year. According to the bureau of labor statistics inflation calculator, thats a little over $48,000 a year. I make less than that by a good margin, but in spite of my 4 kids and stay at home wife I feel like I'm doing really well, probably because I live in a smaller cheaper town, (in the city and not the suburbs.) This I would say is a good monetary benchmark of making it.

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
01-20-2017 06:01 AM
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

Quote:I have a friend who is a literacy tutor, and that's where this study began. The friend, Sam, had told me about his student, Bill, who was a skilled technician, earned $32,000 a year, vacationed in Miami frequently, and couldn't read. I asked Sam to see if Bill would agree to an interview, which Bill did. I put together a set of interview questions and went to meet Bill in the building where he had his literacy lessons (we did subsequent interviews in his home).

On my way over to meet Bill, I remember worrying about finding the right level at which to talk with him. If I talked like someone from a university, he might see me as trying to act superior. If I spoke on a "lower level," he might think I'm talking down to him. I ended up saying as little as possible, trying to let him do the talking.

In the instant I first saw Bill, I was surprised. In the second instant, I took note of that surprise. Throughout my interviewing for this study, I took note of my responses, and of people's responses to me. That was data. I was surprised, despite myself, because Bill looked "normal." With his Izod alligator shirt and sports slacks, he looked like a golfer. He was white, 40, slim, handsome, relaxed. When he spoke, he sounded sort of... literate.

As Bill talked into my tape recorder, confidently, his voice, cheerful and full of animation, I kept thinking to myself, "My God, this guy can't read!" as if he had a hidden personality flaw. I took me a while to stop being "hung up" about his illiteracy. But by the end of the interview, we were chatting comfortably about politics, travel, work, and so on. He drove me home in his new sports car. Anyway, the point is that, at first, I found it hard not to respond to him in terms of his label: "illiterate." Things felt much better when I started responding to him as Bill.

One of the things John Taylor Gatto said he did as a teacher was talk to EVERYBODY exactly the same way. He said he got the best results by simply assuming there were no differences between the students rather than follow the careful prescriptions about how to talk to the dumb and bright kids. He also said that no teacher ever believed him when he said that was the reason he had so few discipline problems.

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
(This post was last modified: 01-22-2017 03:30 AM by the Analogist.)
01-22-2017 03:24 AM
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the Analogist Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Prosperous Illiterates

Quote:And as I phoned around to different businesses, it wasn't uncommon to hear that an owner had only made it through eighth grade or so.

Quote:I think that the problem, with her, her children, and others who refused interviews (five prosperous illiterates in all) was that they saw no possible benefit to themselves in granting an interview, and had no trouble imagining possible harm.

Quote:I phoned a total of 73 businesses and came up with five interviews, including the one with the restaurant owner, which didn't work out. Of all the business owners I spoke with, only two acted offended. Four others were quite emphatic that an illiterate couldn't possibly run a business. Most people accepted the assumption of my phone talk that such people existed, but said they didn't know for sure which business owners they knew, if any, were illiterate.

Quote:These prosperous illiterates had all sorts of skills and hobbies, plans and memories, and they enjoyed having a chance to talk about them.

Quote:Another way to impose structure, and a bad habit I had a hard time getting rid of, is to ask yes-no questions. The message of a yes-no question is something like, "Here's what I, the interviewer, think is important. You have two choices." Interviewees tend to show that they get this message — that it's what the interviewer thinks that's important — by giving short answers and then by listening for the interviewer's next question.

The thing that's so appealing about yes-no questions to an interviewer is that one gets quick answers to the things one thinks are important. For example, at first I asked, "Do you belong to any community organizations?" If the answer was yes, then I'd pursue that topic with the interviewee. But I didn't know if "community organizations" was something the person himself would have thought of in telling me about who he was.

Purity is to Believe only that which deserves it.
Wisdom is to follow only the Opinion which makes the best use of evidence.
Excellence is to be mindful of all these things in Living.
Follow me on Twitter!
01-22-2017 01:41 PM
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