Are our schools failing children with the simplest of abilities?

cwilko2011 By cwilko2011, 17th Jun 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Education

A response to the recent reports of Boris Johnson and Peter Andre responding to illiteracy in London. Also exploring the wider issue of illiteracy.

The report

Whilst watching the news this week I have noticed reports of the London Mayor Boris Johnson and erstwhile pop star Peter Andre focussing on illiteracy in the capital. They were seeking to highlight the thousands of children purely in London that are progressing to secondary education unable to read.

It is of course admirable that is a cause that has come to light and that something is to be done about it. There is however the question...what is going to happen to the rest of the UK? It is clearly about time that there was something done about this, it is completely unacceptable!

The root of the problem.

It is not uncommon for children to progress to secondary education without any kind of literacy skills. The question is why is this being allowed to happen? We live in a developed country where every single child has access to education and free reading materials in the form of the local library.

As a child I was always reading, Roald Dahl being my absolute favourite. The stories no doubt had a profound effect on my formative years. The current generation seem to be missing out on this. Are schools now so concerned with results that they are willing to let the children that are struggling fall by the wayside? I think there is an argument for this.

Schools are now so pressured to attain a certain percentage of results that they are no longer teaching for the knowledge, they are teaching for the exam and the results and if there happens to be some knowledge imparted on the journey then hurray This is where struggling children fall by the wayside. The blame doesn't fall entirely on the schools, it is the governments obsession with figures, facts, improvements and statistics.

The importance.

Reading is one of the most fundamental things that a child can learn from an early age. There are hundreds of scenarios where not being able to read could put a persons life in danger.

Having the ability to read is a pleasure and something that many people wouldn't have a second though about on a daily basis. The vast majority of people could not imagine not being able to read, it is incomprehensible! So why are we allowing children to leave school without the faintest idea how to read?


The key to getting kids reading is to turn the power off for the entire house, only in daylight of course. There are now far too many distractions, concentration levels are at an all time low and imaginations are waining.

The increase in the consumption of video games, TV and of course the internet is having a detrimental effect on children. If there was only an hour a day (outside of school) where everything was turned off and a child was encouraged to read, we would see a dramatic increase in dexterity.

I am aware that not everyone enjoys reading Shakespeare or an eight hundred page Victorian novel but there are other types of reading to be had. Magazines, web articles and comics. Although they are basic, they are much more likely to stimulate the mind of a reluctant reader.

Closing Message

I commend both Boris Johnson and Peter Andre for their efforts but I think it is something that is wider than just London. Children all over this country are affected by illiteracy and I think that local councils and governments should arm themselves with a handful of library cards and tour the entire country.

There should be no incentive, for what greater incentive can there be! Lets get reading Britain, we have such a rich culture of literature from hundreds of years. We should not waste the talent that we have and still have!


Bbc News, Boris Johnson, Education, Illiteracy, Peter Andre, Reading, Schools

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author avatar cwilko2011
English Post-grad guy who loves to read.

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author avatar Prasul Surendran
17th Jun 2011 (#)

I totally agree with the changes you suggest. But the trouble is that technology changes too fast and no one is willing to experiment with their child. Be it in video games or in education everyone wishes their child to be geniuses.

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