2016 International Literacy Day, September 8

September 8, 2016

International Literacy Day in Mongolia:

International Literacy Day in Mongolia: “A young girl studies during class break. With rapid growth, the Government of Mongolia introduced a number of programs to improve the country’s education system, especially rural primary education. Photo: Khasar Sandag/World Bank”

I almost never remember on time:  September 8 is International Literacy Day, a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate literacy.

From the Dag Hammerskjöld Library:

Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults – is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally.

In its resolution A/RES/56/116, the General Assembly proclaimed the ten year period beginning 1 January 2003 the United Nations Literacy Decade. In resolution A/RES/57/166, the Assembly welcomed the International Plan of Action for the Decade and decided that Unesco should take a coordinating role in activities undertaken at the international level within the framework of the Decade.

Sources listed by the Dag Hammerskjöld Library:

Links to UN and UN System sites:

Unesco

United Nations

UNICEF

United Nations Development Programme

World Bank Group

Additional resources:

The additional resources links on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement by the United Nations.

Asia-Pacific Literacy Database

Center for Literacy Studies

Commonwealth of Learning

Education International

International Reading Association
—   International Literacy Day

Literacy Online

Proliteracy Worldwide

SIL International – Literacy

StoryPlus Foundation

Even more resources:

It’s fascinating to me that activities on International Literacy Day seem to be noted in out-of-the-way U.S. newspapers, and even there not much.  Do Americans care about literacy, really?

I half expect the Texas State Board of Education to pass a resolution condeming literacy, since the UN worries about it.

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Read a book for International Literacy Day, September 8

September 8, 2010

I almost never remember on time:  September 8 is International Literacy Day, a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate literacy.  International Literacy Day logo 2010

From the Dag Hammerskjöld Library:

Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all – children, youth and adults – is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally.

In its resolution A/RES/56/116, the General Assembly proclaimed the ten year period beginning 1 January 2003 the United Nations Literacy Decade. In resolution A/RES/57/166, the Assembly welcomed the International Plan of Action for the Decade and decided that Unesco should take a coordinating role in activities undertaken at the international level within the framework of the Decade.

Sources listed by the Dag Hammerskjöld Library:

Links to UN and UN System sites:

Unesco

United Nations

UNICEF

United Nations Development Programme

World Bank Group

Additional resources:

The additional resources links on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement by the United Nations.

Asia-Pacific Literacy Database

Center for Literacy Studies

Commonwealth of Learning

Education International

International Reading Association
—   International Literacy Day

Literacy Online

Proliteracy Worldwide

SIL International – Literacy

StoryPlus Foundation

Even more resources:

It’s fascinating to me that activities on International Literacy Day seem to be noted in out-of-the-way U.S. newspapers, and even there not much.  Do Americans care about literacy, really?

I half expect the Texas State Board of Education to pass a resolution condeming literacy, since the UN worries about it.


Warming deniers surprised by winter

July 27, 2010

Were you writing fiction, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Another bastion of people misled by the lack of a Hemingway-brand Solid Gold Sh*t Detector™.

Another person proud as heck of her denial of global warming, points to cattle freezing in South America in July as proof that the Earth’s atmosphere is not warming.

At a blog called Frugal Café Blog Zone, “Where it’s chic to be cheap… Conservative social & political commentary, with frugality mixed in,” blogger Vicki McClure Davidson headlined the piece:

“Remember Al Gore’s “Global Warming” Hoax? People & Cattle in South America Are Dying from Extreme Cold in July”

Gee, how to break this news to her?

Vickie, sit down.  This is something you should have learned in geography in junior high:  In the Southern Hemisphere, winter starts on June 21It’s cold in South America in July, because it’s winter in South America in July.

Cold in winter.  They don’t expect it.  These warming denialists provide the evidence those crabs need, who wonder whether there shouldn’t be some sort of “common sense test” required to pass before allowing people to vote, or drive, or have children.

Oh, it gets worse:

Another site picked up the post.  No, seriously.  (Has Anthony Watts seen this yet?)

  • Voting Female [I am convinced that is a sock puppet site designed to insult women; no woman could be that stupid, could she?]
Earth at northern solstice

Earth at northern solstice - Wikimedia image


Impromptu Banned Books Week Carnival

October 4, 2008

Banned Books Week flies by way too fast.  So many banned books, so little time.

Was it appropriate for Sarah Palin’s only debate with Joe Biden to come in Banned Books Week?  Or, was it fate?

Liam Sullivan at Panorama of the Mountains had a great idea, running a list of good blog posts on banned books, “Banned Books Week 2008” — I’ll try to encourage readership at his blog by not repeating any of his listings here.  That will make this little impromptu carnival shorter by a lot, and challenging to me to compose.

Let’s start with some of the big dog blogs.

Boing-Boing featured the great window display from the Twin Hickory Public Library in Glen Allen, Virginia:

Window display at the libraray in Glen Allen, Virginia, for Banned Books Week.  via Boing Boing

Window display at the Twin Hickory Public Library in Glen Allen, Virginia, for Banned Books Week. via Boing Boing

A display showing live humans reading may become even more rare over the next few years, as the No Child Left Behind Act begins to affect Americans.

Jesus’s General noted the same display, but with a banner that shows the necessarily political character of standing up for books and knowledge in an era that tries to discount education as “elitism,” and smart and educated people as “elitists,” as if “elite” didn’t mean “the best.”  Which brings up a sore point with me:  How have the book banners been so successful in stamping out dictionaries?  Dictionaries are great books to promote freedom — but just try to find a good one in most homes, or in school classrooms.  My father and mother kept a dictionary on their desk at the store they owned; a good dictionary used to be a great high school graduation gift for a student off to college.  When was the last time you saw such a thing used as such a gift?  I digress.

Banned Books Week banner found at Jesus General

Banned Books Week banner found at Jesus' General

Jesus’ General said:

Books can be dangerous. Many contain ideas. Sometimes unpopular ideas. Ideas that may make one think. Ideas that engage and transform us. Ideas that set off our imaginations. Ideas that can change the way we see the world. Ideas that may make decide to help change the world for the better. Clearly books can be subversive. And we can’t have that! An informed and imaginative people could do incredible things.

Paper Cuts, a book blog at the New York Times site, asks “What are you doing for Banned Books Week?” it features a nice photograph of the public library in Wasilla, Alaska.  Barry Gewen offers great insights into Banned Books Week.

One of the most informative of these lists is “Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course, Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century” — because it provides background on various censorship efforts over the years. It’s also the most amusing list, though it’s hard to laugh after your jaw has dropped.

George Orwell’s “1984” was challenged in Jackson County, Fla., because it was considered “pro-Communist.” Who would have imagined that the Wichita, Kans., public library would, ayatollah-like, challenge Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” for being “blasphemous to the prophet Mohammed”? In 1973, “Slaughterhouse Five” was actually burned in Drake, N.D. And Lindale, Tex., banned “To Kill a Mockingbird” from a school reading list in 1996 because it “conflicted with the values of the community” — leading one to wonder just what Lindale’s values are, and why anyone would want to live there.

Farm School, in honor of Banned Books Week, does a bang up job of nailing down the facts on the charge that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tried to ban books, when she was mayor of Wasilla (not exactly, but the details — truth is in the details).

Abby the Librarian carries another rundown of posts about Banned Books Week, including one from Mommy Madness that notes that banning books takes away a parental responsibility, giving it to the government.  (Did you catch that, Joe Leavell?)

Everybody’s Libraries carries an explanation of “Why Banned Books Week matters.

I’m Here, I’m Queer – What the Hell Do I Read? notices an uncomfortable trend, that several of the most-challenged books are challenged because they discuss homosexuality in non-condemning terms.

Cover of Ray Bradburys Fahrenheit 451, via Maias Blog - Just Add Coffee

Cover of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, via Maia's Blog - Just Add Coffee

Maia’s Blog – Just Add Coffee discusses Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and the irony of banning a book about banning books, in “Banned Books Week, Day 6.”  As you might imagine, this is the sixth in a series of posts.  The other books covered are Brideshead Revisited, Ivanhoe, Sons and Lovers, The Phantom Tollbooth (challenges coming, I presume, from the Taliban, al Quaeda, and Dick Cheney),  and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish gives Phillip Pullman, the author of The Golden Compass, a vent about religious objections to books.

Another roundup of Banned Books Week posts, at Books Worth Reading.

Chez Namastenancy rounds up even more, and points especially to a quiz about banned books at the venerable on-line site of the venerable British newspaper, The Guardian. (English teachers:  Can you say “bellringer?”)

Notes from Evil Bender discusses the importance of keeping ideas on the shelves of libraries, especially those ideas that some find “offensive” to “family values.”

School Library Media Activities Monthly carries this simple quote:

“Banning books is so utterly hopeless and futile.  Ideas don’t die because a book is forbidden reading.”- Gretchen Knief, librarian, protesting a proposed 1939 ban against The Grapes of Wrath

Which posts about Banned Books Week sang out to you, that I’ve missed noting here?  Comments are open — please share.


The list of worthy books that Sarah Palin probably has not read

September 14, 2008

It’s become rather clear that as mayor of Wassilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin only asked about how to remove books from the library, and did not ask for any to be removed.  So a search to see the list of books she objected to is fruitless — there has never been such a list.

But today I stumbled across this list, below, and I’ll wager it contains no more than one or two books Palin has actually read.  You’ll understand why I say that at the end of the list.  The list is fascinating to me, more for its brevity than for anything it contains.  Who would have thought?

The list (alphabetical by author):

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou.

The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker.

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, Taylor Branch.

Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lincoln, David Herbert Donald.

Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot.

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison.

The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-First Century, David Fromkin.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez.

The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, Seamus Heaney.

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed,Terror,and Heroism in Colonial Africa,Adam Hochschild.

The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis.

Meditations, Marcus Aurelius.

Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics, Reinhold Niebuhr.

Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell.

The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis, Carroll Quigley.

The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron.

Politics as a Vocation, Max Weber.

You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe.

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Robert Wright.

The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, William Butler Yeats.

Where did I find that list?  It’s “The entire list of Clinton’s favorite books, listed alphabetically by author,” and you can find it here, at the Clinton Library site. Bill Clinton’s favorite books.

You’ll find most of them at your local public library, unless your mayor has asked friends to check them out and deface them, or make them disappear.


Oops: International Literacy Day sneaked past

September 13, 2008

Dear Readers, you forgot to remind me!

UN poster for International Literacy Day 2008

UN poster for International Literacy Day 2008

September 8 was International Literacy Day. It’s one day a year to help promote the decade-long project of the United Nations General Assembly, through UNESCO, to improve literacy across the planet.

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

Despite many and varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target: some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

But then, most of us missed each of the previous five International Literacy Days of the Literacy Decade.  The good news is that we still have five opportunities before the end of the Literacy Decade, in 2012.  The other good news is that the celebration will probably continue past 2012, as it has for nearly 40 years already.

But enough of the celebration — how about doing something about literacy and reading?  Start out with this great post from Farm School, with dozens of links to and about good, mostly sorta new books you ought to be reading and giving to your kids.

Who do you kiss on International Literacy Day? An author?  A publisher?  A bookseller?  A librarian? A teacher of reading?  A reader?


Well written, by hand

June 12, 2008

We had to take a semester of typing in high school. Computers back then were readers of stacks of punch cards, but the idea was that those students bound for college would need to know how to type to do term papers, and the other students would be able to use typing as a job skill. I got up to 90 words per minute for a short period.

One of my majors was mass communication. I wrote a lot of radio news scripts, and I wrote constantly for the Daily Utah Chronicle. Utah’s debate team was quite active, too, and we typed our evidence cards so they’d be easier to share. By my junior year, almost everything handed in was typewritten.

After one lousy year of grad school I took a job as press secretary for a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a shoe-string operation, and I typed all our press releases myself — plus the few prepared speeches. Three years later we had computers to use for press releases and speech texts in the Senate. My office was the first in the Senate to completely automate the process. By the time I moved to the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors, we had PCs on everybody’s desk (ahead of our time, I know). At the Department of Education a couple of years later, we even had a crude e-mail system.

Moving to American Airlines was a shock. As counsel, I was expected to write everything in long-hand, so the secretary could type up the final copy. Having been wholly keyboard for way over a decade, I couldn’t make the switch. I had to find a surplused, still-barely-working typewriter to give stuff to the secretary. By the time I left four years later, everybody had PCs on their desks (and at least half the secretarial positions were gone, too). That was my last experience with long-hand as the norm, until I got to the Dallas Independent School District.

Our kids didn’t learn cursive long or well. Younger son James doesn’t do much in cursive at all (thank you notes are a problem, of course). Older son Kenny has keyboards on everything, and probably types better than I do. I didn’t worry much about it.

Now comes a comic strip based on a blog with the claim that writing in cursive improves literacy and numeracy.

Is that true? Does writing improve literacy and numeracy?

That would explain a lot about my students’ inabilities in both areas, and it would suggest we need to do a lot more writing, and a lot more note-taking. It would suggest that our drive to technology has damaged our skills in an unexpected way.

What do you think? Does anyone know if there is an actual study on the topic? Comments open.

Read the rest of this entry »


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