Reading Elitist? Time to Step Aside.

What are the true “reading literacy” facts today? Only 24 percent of this nation’s 4th graders are able to form opinions from what they read, and only 34 percent of our high school seniors can. The majority of our working adult population cannot comprehend beyond a third- or fourth-grade reading level.

Opportunity knocks! And that knocking your imagination should hear is for the full-motion, optional audio, fully branched, multiple learning-style accommodation programming that will welcome the majority of Americans to full inclusion in the social and economic benefits of an advanced democratic society. The learning media that I am advocating will contribute as much to the world as the writers of instructional materials do today. Digital technology will catch up to the new learning culture requirements in a very short time. Get ready for that change now.

Who’s delaying this inevitable learning revolution? The reading elitists. People like you and me. What was good enough for us should be good enough for them. What I learned to do, they can learn to do. “Thou shalt read” has become the credo for the reading elitists, but they will never be able to dampen the thirst for knowledge that the full motion/optional audio media has unleashed. We need to find ways to include the “reading advanced,” but first, we must stop their unintentional attempts to exclude the majority of Americans from playing on a level field of opportunity.

Now, I am a big believer in the development of advanced reading skills for certain career paths and for certain professions. Don’t label me an anti-reader. But understand that the real problem today is that this nation is ignoring more than half of its adult and child populations simply because we mistakenly believe there is a direct correlation between “smart” and vocabulary recognition.

Too few of our political leaders spend enough time studying history. If they did, they would know that even when I was a boy, schools augmented our reading-based education with filmstrips, 16mm documentaries and radio broadcasts of news and information.

We are sensory beings. The more of our senses that can be involved, the more completely and enjoyably we learn. Even better, the more of our senses that become involved with the learning experience, the greater our retention. Nobody is trying to exclude the one-third of us who are comfortable in a reading-based learning environment. We’ll respond favorably to instructionally sound CD-ROMs and e-learning, too. But for the two-thirds in this nation who have no learning culture choice, the full motion learning designs and programs we create will be pivotal.

My emphasis, then, is on full motion, instructionally sound media, with optional audio, whose focus is on the two-thirds of our citizens who today are at serious risk because of the changing job requirements in America. At the very least, a lack of familiarity with PC skills will leave the majority of our young people ill-prepared to maximize their own economic opportunities throughout their lifetimes. And that same challenge must be successfully met with our unemployed or under-employed adult population. Only well designed individualized media instruction has a prayer.

More on Monday.

– Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning