The S.M.A.R.T. Foundation’s “Digital Literacy Program” found that by far the majority of kids either referred or self-referred to the “Kickin-Off” community workshop presented as Functionally Illiterate in the first place… This, our sister site is dedicated to developing the work of the foundation to provide support and a new start for the many people out there who are disadvantaged in life simply because they do not have access to text.
It seems that regardless of the latest attempts at improving “reading” and thereby “fuller active participation in learning” there has also been a spectacular educational fail now resulting in more spin, as the seriously poor outcome clearly impacts the secondary educational chances of those stuck in transition from “Phonics to joined-up reading”, as well as, those who potentially and predictably had difficulties in the first place.
Whilst on the subject of “predictability” why has it not been noted that by far the majority of young offenders who end up offending, and experience the wonders of our modern secure estate, also fall into the functionally illiterate classification?
Not something that was originally on my mind or the driver for my wife and I when we started the S.M.A.R.T. Foundation (Sports Management And Recreational Training) in 1995 to support those who escaped from academia finding acceptance in the world of competitive sport as an alternative to academic approval deprivation in school.
This was driven by discovering the majority of children we were working with effectively functionally illiterate exhibiting some extreme “text avoidance strategies” suffering a high degree of approval deprivation and performance anxiety manifesting in v.defensive aggressive behaviours.
Easily sorted using ex-criminals and ex-service mentors, the biggest and ugliest we could find and a simple set of rules, no rules except “one for all and all for one” dumping security and management of pro-social behaviours on club members – tee hee
Anyway, activities were peer approved and conditional, simply where the ‘one for all and all for one’ came in with learning / project sessions a.m. and either workshop and/or off-road riding p.m. along with after school time club and youth club in the evenings.
This achieved ave 120% attendance with many arriving at 7.30 a.m. for breakfast and not leaving until shut-down 9 p.m.
Needless to say, the majority did not have access to a home PC nor internet at that time so, we also ran a PC recycling scheme with local businesses that meant they could be shown how to build their own PC to take home with them and this included optimising the screen interface to enable them to read relatively fluently with reading rate gains regularly in excess of 100% from less than 100wpm up to 200wpm plus resulting in some very positive self-modification of behaviours as they engaged in portfolio building for NVQ 4000.
In particular, we started with Equestrian and Motorcycle riders working toward a career as professionals in their chosen fields of activity, whether employed or self-employed as, competitors, trainers, engineers whatever but, lacked the entrepreneurial skills.
Remove the main fear, disadvantage, anxiety, barrier, handicap, disability to reading for leisure, pleasure and, worst of all, school/work on-screen or otherwise……
If text is easily and fluently accessible then, surely, anyone is happy to read ?
I like to think of myself as an old fashioned engineer, someone who was born curious and just had to know how things worked and, if this meant taking them apart, then this tended to sort of happen a long time before I was anywhere near capable of putting them back together, much to the consternation of my parents and others as a small child.
Anyway, it seems that I have always been a sensory driven individual, or what used to be called someone who had a “vocation”. In this case, making things better in terms of either conserving, restoring and/or improving less than optimally “functional” things.
However, whilst excelling in this area of my life, like many others I was frustrated at school, where any meaningful participation in acquiring the academic or theoretical knowledge to back-up any life-skills was, and still is, solely based around simply the competence or confidence to “access text” easily and read fluently.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t appear to be either easy or immediately natural for a significant number of us who are poor or slow readers and know it, because school always made a point of naming and shaming the poor readers who are now identified as generically or generally, “Functionally Illiterate” and/or, if assessed at great cost, SEN or Dyslexic.
Little wonder that the stigma of functional illiteracy is not something anyone wants to brag about in their CV and, in later life, I have come across many successful entrepreneurs in business who insist on “taking documents away to study later” or simply apologies because, they “left their glasses behind” or “need to discuss with partners” whatever.
Anyway, it also seems that regardless of the latest attempts at improving “reading” and thereby “fuller active participation in learning” there has also been a spectacular educational fail, now resulting in more spin, as the seriously poor outcome clearly impacts the secondary educational chances of those stuck in transition from “Phonics to joined-up reading”, as well as, those who potentially and predictably had difficulties in the first place.
Screenrisk.com is, in part, dedicated to helping corporations and organisations recover upwards of 20% lost productivity through poorly optimised Display Screen Equipment screen ergonomics. For them, the Display Screen Optimiser can be a valuable resource in reducing working stress levels.
The S.M.A.R.T Foundation is Screenrisk’s “copy left” organisation dedicated to helping people in education achieve functional literacy through the use of the Display Screen Optimiser to restore their binocular vision and to make text more accessible for them.