Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Indispensable Secret to Success in Life

Is learning important in life? Of course, no learning and you've got a population of complete morons. Can one learn without reading? Yes, maybe a little but being literate is absolutely crucial, especially in Western societies.

Frederick Douglass, who eventually became a good friend of Abe Lincoln's, was born into slavery and forbidden an education by law. He was taught reading by an abolitionist sympathizer, and at every opportunity he began furthering his education by reading what he could and talking to people more knowledgeable than himself. He escaped slavery in 1838 and went on to become a great writer, orator, and leader in the abolitionist movement.

Considered by some of his teachers to be too thick-headed for school, Thomas Edison was taught at home by his mother in his early years. Eventually this self-taught scientist would himself become a technological explosion, holding more than 1000 patents and pioneering such technology as the electric light and the phonograph.

Schooled by his father till late teen years, David Ben-Gurion became a passionate reader, studying philosophy and ancient Greek in order to read philosophy texts in their original form. He was a chief architect for the state of Israel and became its first Prime Minister in 1948. At the age of 16, John Bartlett became employed as a clerk at the Harvard University bookstore. He became so well-versed in great literature through his own self-education that he became a voice in campus activities. In 1855 he published what is today titled Bartlett's Quotations.

Born into poverty in Harlem, James Baldwin survived through high school, after which he set out on a voracious enterprise of self-education. He became a celebrated novelist, essayist, playwright, and an important figure in the civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s. He was author of The Fire Next Time and Go Tell It On the Mountain.

Reading is absolutely crucial. According to 21st century stats, forty-three percent of adults in the United States. read at or below the "Basic" level. This accounts for roughly 93 million individuals. Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the past week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to much less frequently. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average-a gap of 74 points. So if our parents don't read much or read with difficulty, how can we expect our children to read or even care about reading. Parents and grandparents, whether you're a reader or not, please get your children great books so they can become readers. It's a key to success!