Literacy and Liberty

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 3:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A question I have always wondered is how skills as simple as reading and writing were not known by everyone around the world. How literacy rates were higher in some regions and lower in others. My investigation will focus on illiteracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is the only continent in the world with illiteracy rates above 50% with the exception of Afghanistan. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular includes countries with illiteracy rates that are above 60, 70, and 80%. I would like to investigate why literacy in this region is such a problem, what initiatives they have taken to increase literacy rates, and how those programs are meant to work. I expect my investigation will involve researching the economies of Sub-Saharan countries, the availability of schools, attendance rates of schools in the region, and government spending. I would also like to investigate how illiteracy impedes on the ability of these countries to develop.

Benjamin Rush Statue
Posted by: , October 3, 2018, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It was the fall of my senior year of high school, and this was to be my last college visit before I made my decision. I arrived on the Dickinson College campus with an open mind, but ready to be finished with the college process. For two years, where I was going to attend college had been discussed time and time again, not to mention the countless tests taken and questionnaires answered. As my mother and I began our tour of the campus after my interview in the admissions building, our first stop was by Old West. In front of the old building was the Benjamin Rush statue. The statue itself is larger than life, with Rush holding a quill in one hand and a piece of parchment in the other, watching over those students as they walk from classroom to classroom. Before even reading the dedication plaque below the statue, I understood how it displayed the intellect and ambition I could tell the College embodied. The Benjamin Rush statue served as a symbol of the culture I knew I could expect in my time here. Today, after having chosen Dickinson as the place I want to spend my next four years; I see the Benjamin Rush statue differently. No longer is it just a symbol of education and intellect, but rather a standard expected of the students who walk the pathways across campus, to uphold the maverick spirit and sense of purpose Rush embodied.

Learning to Read and Write
Posted by: , September 20, 2018, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Learning to read was a time in my life I remember quite vividly. From what I have heard from most people, learning to read was a skill they learned in school early on, either beginning in preschool or soon thereafter. However, my education of handwriting was not received in any professional setting. Each evening of my adolescence until the age of eight, I was forced to sit next to my mother and read the training series Bob Books. I do not remember the plot of most of these books, but do recall my unwillingness to participate in these exercises. Usually about an hour after we had finished dinner my mother and I would resume where we had left off the previous night, after my sister and I had had enough time to play in the basement and release the potential energy we had generated during the 30 minutes spent sitting at the dinner table. Each word I was not able to pronounce, she would carefully guide me through by making the sounds of each letter with her mouth, and instructing me to do the same.

However, learning to write is a time in my life I do not remember at all. The only writing exercises I can recall were during the third grade, learning to write cursive. We would return to class after finishing with our morning recess time, and the teacher would instruct us to take out our cursive tracing textbooks from underneath our desks. And for an hour, we would trace each letter a dozen times, then proceed to write sentences like “The field trip to the zoo was fun”, or. “The birds flew in the sky”. One part of cursive I remember not understanding, was the purpose of it all. Why would someone choose to use a style of writing no one could understand? What was so wrong with normal handwriting that someone had decided to change the shape of letters and connect every letter in every word? These questions puzzled me as I traced letters like “z” and “b”, letters with no resemblance to their original shape. Although, if someone were to read my handwriting today, it could be easily mistaken as a construed form of cursive as all the letter are connected, just not in the clean fashion I was taught in the third grade, but more like I was in the biggest hurry of my life.

Learning to Read
Posted by: , September 5, 2018, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

      When I was eight years old, I had already decided reading was the worst thing I had ever tried. Not only did I not enjoy reading, I hated how I was forced to sit down next to my mother for 30 minutes a day and practice reading starter books for children. I could not have imagined then, how something I disliked so much would turn into one of my greatest passions. It was only after three years of not reading a single word I didn’t have to, that I discovered the novel which would change my perception of reading forever. The Tower Treasure, the first book of the Hardy Boys series that was given to me as a gift for my birthday when I was 11 years old, and was my first introduction to the pleasure a great story could bring me. I was able to pretend like I was a part of the motorcycle-riding, teenage detective duo, solving crimes and going on dates with pretty girls. However, more than that, The Treasure Tower was my first taste of how literature could function as a transportation mechanism, allowing me to leave where I was and travel to wherever the setting of the novel of my choosing would take me. Books not only became a way for me to use my imagination, but as I got older, a way for me to garner the perspectives of other cultures and different people. Reflecting upon those times when I was younger, when I was forced to sit next to my mother for our daily reading sessions, it all seems like a cheap price to pay for a lifetime of exploration.