Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Functional illiterates?

The other day I read an article in the Washington Post on the issue of the ever increasing public expense. A citizen, possibly Republican minded, complained in a letter to the editor: Not just the armed forces every Federal agency and appropriation is handled in this way. Even schools. They can whine and complain all they want about "cuts," but school budgets increase every year, and they turn out functional illiterates. We are a land where failure is richly rewarded and productivity is criminally penalized. Is it no wonder that we're in the fix we're in?

Far from being able to judge upon the issue of public spending in the States and the resulting consequences it was the last part about schools producing functional illiterates that electrified me.

Sprachkompetenz? (©yirsh)
In Germany we are not better off. The magic word over here is mangelnde Sprachkompetenz (insufficient command of spoken and written German). In two of the three Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) the young generation is clearly missing competence. So school bashing is common but aren't we beating the wrong donkey? I see kids including my oldest grandson rather spending their time with audiovisual gadgets than with books. As we say: Von nichts kommt nichts (Nothing will come out of nothing).

On the long run the saddest aspect of this development is the loss of Sprachreichtum. Who will be able to express his ideas clearly and with the subtlety of a rich vocabulary and even more so who will in future years understand all those funny words and expressions grandparents still use?

Old man = pessimist? Perhaps, but this topic unsettles me and is always on my mind.

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