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Is this an accurate picture of the teaching of Reading in America over the years?

At one point, reading, writing and arithmetic were the only 3 courses taught, and illiteracy was rampant, but then in the 20th Century, we moved toward a more robust curriculum. In the teaching experience of many of our parents and grandparents they had one period a day of reading, often a half hour, and a variety of other courses, often including daily classes in arts and physical education. Illiteracy dropped severely during that generation, but at some point we reached a break point where a certain population remained illiterate. Over the past few decades we’ve seen our children’s curriculum going from a robust smorgasbord to more and more reading… from 1 period a day to 2, to 3, to 4, and now 5 periods a day. (out of an 8 period day, now 45 minute periods when they were once 30 minutes. And yet, the illiteracy rate in America is still stagnant, ir perhaps are rising again.
In this picture, the more reading focused courses you give a child, the less they learn in reading. Sort of like the Japanese story about the student wanting to obtain enlightenment, as he increased the hours a day he would meditate, the zen master kept increasing the years it would take to obtain enlightenment.


  1. No you are wrong. If you looked at the text books of years ago they included history, religion, poetry, Latin of all things, math, reading, writing, etc. What they learned was reinforced in both home and church on a daily basis. The spiritual climate in America was far different than what exists now. Extra curricular activity was farm work and chores at home.
    Even American slaves had a hard life. But there was a desire for them to want to live in liberty just to waste a life. But they saw opportunity in education with freedom. To join with society rather than destroy it. This was the dream for Martin Luther King.
    But the secularization and separation of education from its spiritual and moral roots. And introduce children to accept earlier and earlier thoughts that were not even a part of American culture and heritage is what has dumbed down American children verses the education children receive in foreign countries.
    This is a rather broad topic and definitely open for debate. Many people that are older than 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 or 90 will understand what I am saying. But people that are younger have been raised in a different American school system that is openly engaged in a value system that is definitely anti Judeo Christian and opposed to teaching the truth about American values and judgment and history.
    I’ve said little or too much. Take it either way.
    Edit. I started this out badly and I needed to edit this here 12 hours later for crying out loud.
    You’re summarization appears to be sound on its surface. I think the quality of the material and the discussion and study of the material is lacking.
    I had this discussion with a Japanese student back in 1975 and he was telling me that what he learned in college is what they were learning in the first year of high school in Japan.
    Something happened with the education of children in America. Someone dropped the ball here. And what is really sad is that most parents don’t care enough to sound an alarm.
    In a way I agree with your conclusion. That less reading does bring enlightenment. But what is missing is the obvious portion for enlightenment. And that is experience in life. What one goes through in life affects more a person than from the lifeless pages of a book.
    And with that experience comes consideration if not meditation about the life experience. And the generalized knowledge one can obtain in life that we call enlightenment.

  2. The one part of the picture you forgot was the influx of illiterate emigrants into this nation during this time period. Most of them didn’t speak English and had to be taught the language. In an effort to teach these children, teachers became frustrated and many left the profession. Some were the best teachers but they could go to work elsewhere and not hassle the problem of teaching illiterate foreigners. This left the poorer teachers, which compelled a reduction in standards. This has been the case right up to today. Private schools have not had to deal with illiteracy because they were able to pick and choose their students. Consequently, their standards did not begin to sag until government meddling forced them to teach to a test instead of teaching subjects.

  3. I can’t speak to the issue of what an educational system
    wishes to accomplish with reading requirements. I can, on the
    other hand, draw from my own experience in education as far
    as reading is concerned. When I began to be able to read, many of
    the courses were oriented toward what someone decided would
    be a good book for me to read. I discarded what they assigned
    for me to read and paid lip service to the books. By the time I was
    in the 8th or 9th grade, I had read anywhere from 5 to 10 times
    the number of books that most of my fellow students had read.
    Very few were on the recommended reading lists for the
    classes I took. I read what entertained me. I didn’t read in order to
    know what my position on the burning issues of the day should be.
    I think that many would be readers are deterred by the propagandized
    use of literature to sell the masses on the value of good behavior in
    the societal area. Adults are often selling the analytical abilities of
    students short. They use the classic phrase in an allegorical sense.
    You just don’t know anything about life. This begins the cyclical
    alienation of the adults from the children. The Tao of aging.

  4. you can’t cut your finger and put a bandaid on it then if it starts to bleed again blame the bandaid .the school is not the problem the parents are .if they teach there childern to study after school they will learn from it.the schools have to much to teach in this day and age ,so they can only do so much .it is funny how people blame others for there problems .there your kids teach them


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