It was prompted by the astonishment of a friend when her local TV advertised for literacy tutors. She believed that this type of training was a thing of the past. For many humans and anipals this is not yet true.
Mum is a volunteer tutor for Literacy Aotearoa in New Zealand. She became involved because we, as a family, could not imagine not being able to read; can you? Mum has studied and achieved her NCALE (National Certificate in Adult Literacy Education) to teach individuals and groups.
International Literacy Matters
What has literacy to do with pet blog readers and social media? Well, we all make typos, auto-correct takes words out of our paws, or we spell words incorrectly. Being literate means we can not only read our own words, but we can correct most of our mistakes. Not being literate means a pal struggles with simple, everyday things :-
- Instructions on a packet mix
- Instructions and warnings on medicine bottles from your vet
- Reading to the family, or grandkittens
- Operating a cash machine to get cat food shopping money
- Reading school reports or vet hospital letters
International Literacy – Did You Know?
There are lots of type and definitions of literacy but, briefly, the main types are:-
- Functional literacy – the ability to get along on a day-to-day basis (reading your cat food packet)
- Mathematical literacy (numeracy) – the ability to understand and process numbers (adding up cat food costs)
- Technological literacy the ability to use computers, cash machines, mobile telephones to contact a vet, or hospital
- Critical literacy – not only to read but to understand, and question, what you read.
People lack literacy for lots of reasons so don’t be too hasty in dismissing it as ‘laziness’; school scared someone for various reasons, so they played truant; a family moved around a lot to find work; a human struggles with dyslexia or illness kept them away from school and they did not have enough teacher one-on-one time to catch up, a whole heap of things can happen.
So what do we as pals – do to help? Firstly, it is up to any individual anipal to realise they need help and seek it out – we cannot and must not force a pal to ask for help – it would make them feel small or worthless. Most places have literacy programmes so if a pal needs help advise them to check locally to their home, trained help is important, so is gentle encouragement from you.
As social media pals we have to be patient, kind and tolerant of a friend’s inability to process words and numbers as fast as we do. Here’s a few examples :-
- Dyslexia sufferers may take time to respond to a tweet, or a Facebook post, and may make a couple of mistakes when they respond.
- Pals may have been bullied or mocked online for poor spelling, so be tentative about responding online.
- People who struggle with reading might be completely lost if you use LOLSpeak or cat talk, if you use ‘jargon’ or shorten words too much. Be aware of your pals possible limits – English may not be their first language.
So, now you know. The world is full of people who struggle with things we take for granted – words and numbers. The next time you find a pal taking time to respond, remember they may be tired, overwhelmed or just struggling with words. Life is not as easy as we think – sometimes reading and writing isn’t either!