Recently, I met a gentleman that moved from the South to California in order to find better opportunities. In other words, he’s looking for a job.
His objectives and personality remind me of a short story, Of Mice and Men. He’s both George and Lennie in one body. Though savvy and capable of being intelligent, he’s such a massive brute that he destroys his own life with his bare hands. His size draws attention to him and seems to make his life somewhat difficult, but inside, he’s a big teddy bear.
Like the age of the Gold Rush, people are moving to California under the presumption that there is work to be had. Yet, they discover an intense job market and brutal competition. Many are left living with their friends and family, taking up space and losing motivation.
It’s almost like we were thrown into the past via the future.
During the Gold Rush, many Americans suffered because they lacked education. They were crabs in a barrel fighting for scraps at the bottom. If life wasn’t difficult enough, companies capitalized on the general public’s ignorance. Citizens were given harsh working conditions because they didn’t know their rights and couldn’t read well enough to learn them.
This southern gentleman suffers the same issue. He’s often embarrassed when reading in public because his literary skills are below par. I help him with words that most third graders could sound out with basic phonics skills, though they wouldn’t know the meaning of the word.
When I was in elementary school, television commercials told me that “Reading is fundamental.” Now that the commercial appears less, I find more individuals struggling to establish a strong foundation in reading. As a writer, I find that disheartening. As an instructor, it angers and agitates me. As a human being, it makes me lose hope for the future.
Reading and writing are the next best things to food and air. With those two skills, you can add food to your table and shelter over your head. Passing through life with an inability to read seems nearly impossible to me, but it isn’t. This is a real issue that a top tier country, like America, still struggles with.
There is no solution to this problem. Not a massive one at least. But individuals that want to read or write have to first acquire two skills: passion and dedication. These two “fundamentals” are overlooked by teachers and administrators. However, they are the finest tools.
In order to learn any new skill, you must be ready to struggle and fail. With passion, you will find yourself invested in your growth. With dedication, you will practice the skill early and often.
If you’re curious: I’m helping the gentleman find a job and learn how to type. But I also plan to invest in his reading skills.