Reading the Future

Unattributed, Canadian Council on Learning, Jun 13, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm not really sure what to make of the CCL's report on literacy, the one released this week with the catchy assertion that Canada's literacy rate will not improve in the years ahead. Some bits are just odd. For example: literacy in old people is lower than literacy in young people. OK, that makes sense. But (p.4) these rates haven't changed in a decade. Well, how does that happen - do we knock off literate people as they turn 66? Or is there something about the testing that represents older people as more illiterate than they used to be? And what about the testing (pp. 24-25) that requires people to read random letters, read pseudo-words, repeat words and repeat digits, all as quickly as possible? The presumption seems to be that testing the putative components of reading constitutes testing reading - a questionable assumption at best. Are we as Canadians really as bad as the report suggests?
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