Those of us who have gone through school forget the great gift we have of literacy. Being literate opens the doors to worlds that are closed to those without a good grasp of the literary arts.
Imagine going to the Emergency Room. A nurse hands you a piece of paper with letters on it that you can’t understand, and you are told you have to sign it. Then she bustles off and leaves you alone in your room.
What is this piece of paper? Is it some kind of permission? Is it instructions? There’s no one to ask, and you are alone. Besides being in pain, since you are in an Emergency Room, you are confused and frightened.
Or imagine trying to read your job application when you can’t put the words together to make sense.
Or try taking a driving test.
Or read a note from your child’s teacher.
For those who can read this blog, these short little scenarios are comfortable fiction, but for those who are dealing with little to no abilities, not being able to read is a terrifying reality.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Washington County Oklahoma’s population has 4% of its people with skills less than a 9th grader. 16% of the population in Washington County have not been able to attain literacy higher than 12th grade;* and that’s just one county out of 77!
Just as low literacy affects people from every background, so also, individuals from every background can unlock someone’s world and break them free from the prison of low literacy. Those who are helped gain a new horizon that would have remained hidden.
The tutors benefit as well as the learners. Many of them say they find great pleasure from working with people who are either low in their literacy or are learning to communicate in the United States.
One such tutor feels great satisfaction in helping people whose first language is something other than English, because he knows how hard it is to learn a language that is not native. He feels he is making a difference by helping his learner overcome the difficulties she faces in learning English. By helping her with her English, he is also helping her achieve her goal of obtaining her citizenship.
One of our tutors expressed a desire to help someone learn to love to read. Many people have never learned this love, and her joy is to see them begin to read on their own because they want to, not because it is the assignment she has given them.
Another tutor feels that seeing the light come on in someone else’s education is a great reward.
And yet another looks to bring equity to the lives of those who have not had the privilege of learning. Some desire to share what they have, others love to see the excitement of a person discovering success in their new literacy levels, which gives them confidence to try other things.
Dean Jones, one of our tutors, likes to quote Zig Ziglar who said, “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” Dean finds great joy and satisfaction in being one to help that unstoppable person who is determined to learn.
Everyone has a different reason for wanting to help someone improve their literacy levels. And being a tutor is not difficult.
To find out more about tutoring, and the Bartlesville Public Library’s Literacy services, follow the link or call us at 918-841-4179.
On September 6th and 13th BPL’s Literacy Services will be conducting an Open Minds Tutor training session from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the Bartlesville Public Library, upstairs meeting room A. Join us and find out how rewarding tutoring can be. .
Submitted by Coleen Hambrick