Sounds awesome, right? No homework. No teachers. No jerks or Cool Kids.
*puts on ranty-pants*
But the truth is, in historical times, illiteracy was a tool used by governments to control their populace. An illiterate populace couldn’t educate themselves on concepts like ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’. They couldn’t easily be exposed to new ideas. They were completely reliant upon the literate (usually the people who wanted to keep them down) to interpret law, history and philosophy. This is the way it works in STORMDANCER.
The sad thing is, even today, illiteracy is a weapon being used in the same old war. We're not talking fantasy. This is real life now.
According to UNICEF, nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two thirds of them were women.
In the US 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. 90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts.
In America today, right now, this very second, 22% of adults are below Basic level literacy (indicating they possess no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills). 14% are functionally illiterate (meaning they cannot read or write with any degree of proficiency)
14%. In America. Today.
School sucks. I hated every minute of it. No doubt. But compared to the alternative, it's pretty frackin' awesome.
Make with the clicky:
The Reading Tree - http://www.readingtree.org/
The ABC literacy Site - http://www.theliteracysite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=6
National Literacy Trust UK - http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/
Oxfam Australia - http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/resources/rights/
Jay Kristoff is the author of STORMDANCER, a dystopian fantasy set in steampunk feudal Japan, out in Spring 2012 through St Martin's Press & Tor UK.