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Successful illiterate men Clark, Roger A. 1993

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SUCCESSFUL ILLITERATE MENbyROGER CLARKB.A., Wilfrid Laurier UniversityM.A., University of Waterloo, 1970M.ED., Queen's University, 1978A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF EDUCATIONinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Administrative, Adult and Higher EducationWe accept this thesis as conformingTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIANOVEMBER, 1992© Roger Allan Clark, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature) Department of Administrative_ Adult  and Higher EducationThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate January 21, 1993DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTDespite widespread concern and many attempts to eradicate illiteracy, it persists.Part of the problem is that too little is known about the people for whom literacyprograms are designed. Such programs may fail if they are designed by people who viewtheir clientele as deficient.This perspective of deficiency is based on two assumptions: first, that literacy is anecessary pre-condition for success in life and second, that illiterate people are lacking inself-confidence, are unable to maintain employment, are poor, and are caught in a cycleof deprivation and undereducation.This study examines the characteristics and perceptions of illiterate men who haveachieved varying degrees of financial and employment success but do not read beyond thegrade-three level.The findings indicate that in spite of deficiencies in reading, illiterate individualslearn a number of coping techniques and manifest innumerable skills and achievements.Thus, a "deficiency" oriented intervention program that over-emphasizes the importanceof literacy diminishes the observable accomplishments of the illiterate adult and may fail.Intervention programs designed for illiterate adults need to bolster the participants' senseof accomplishment and teach coping skills as well as literacy skills.iiTABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT^ iiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS^ ixLIST OF TABLES vChapter1 INTRODUCTION^ 1- Setting the Stage 1- The Problem 10- The Purpose 11- Organization of the Dissertation^ 122 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 13- Perceptions of the Nature of Illiteracy 14- Forces and Interests That Perpetuate theMyths About Illiteracy^ 32- Policies and Programs That Respond tothe Perceived Problem of Illiteracy^ 44- Program and Policy Improvement 48- Developing a Research Plan 54- Summary^ 613 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS ^ 65- Purpose^ 65- Pilot Testing 66- Identifying the Population^ 66- Collecting Data 71- Reliability and Validity 79- Data Analysis^ 89- Reporting the Results 924 COMPARING ILLITERATE MEN WITH COMMON VIEWSOF THEIR DEFICIENCY^ 94- Categories of Illiterate Adults 95- Assumptions About Illiteracy 99- Inferences About Illiterate People^ 107- Summary^ 116iv5 ILLITERATE MEN COPING WITH LITERATE SOCIETY ^118- Coping Strategies^ 119- Summary 1246 SUCCESSFUL FUNCTIONING IN LITERATE SOCIETY^126- Confidence^ 127- Responsibility 131- Pride 136- Learning Something New^ 141- Work Ethic^ 145- Alternatives to Reading and Writing^ 146- Success 150- Summary^ 1567 THE SUCCESSFUL ILLITERATE MALE: A PROFILE^157- Attitudes^ 163- Coping Skills 171- Differences from the Deficiency View^ 177- Summary^ 1838 GENERAL SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS ^186- The Broad Perspective of the PopularView of Illiteracy^ 186- The Study: Summary, Contributionsand Limitations 187- Conclusions Based on the Findings of This Study ^ 191- Implications of the Conclusions^ 194- Summary^ 201AppendixA INTERVIEW PROTOCOL^ 202B BIOGRAPHICAL CHARTS AND SKETCHES^ 213C TABLES CONTAINING BIOGRAPHICAL DATA 236D TABLES CONTAINING DATA ON PERCEPTIONS 250E INFORMATION ARISING FROM THE INTERVIEW PROCESS ^272F EXPANDED METHODOLOGICAL NOTES ^ 279G MOVEMENT FOR CANADIAN LITERACY LETTER ^294REFERENCES^ 298LIST OF TABLESTable1 Ages of interviewees 2362 Age cohort groupings of interviewees 2363 Self-reported years of schooling of interviewees 2364 Reading levels of interviewees as established with the Brigance test ^2375 Number of jobs held and periods of unemployment over the careerof interviewees 2376 Types of work done by interviewees at the time of the interviews ^2387 Work experiences of interviewees ^2388 Interviewees' work experiences appearing to require literacy skills ^2399 Investment status of interviewees ^23910 Social roles played by interviewees ^24011 Marital status of interviewees ^24012 Number of children of interviewees who had ever had a child ^24013 Education levels of interviewees' children over sixteen and no longerin school ^24114 Jobs of interviewees' adult children ^24115 Education levels of interviewees' wives ^24116 Education levels of interviewees' mothers ^242Vvi17^Education levels of interviewees' fathers ^24218^Reading ability of interviewees' mothers ^24219^Reading ability of interviewees' fathers ^24320^Jobs of interviewees' mothers ^24321^Jobs of interviewees' fathers ^24322^A completion profile for participation in literacy courses at time ofinitial contact -- in descending order by income ^24423^A participation profile comparing time of initial interviews with timeof call-backs -- in descending order by income ^24624^Interviewees' responses to whether they would take another literacycourse ^24825^Problems with literacy courses identified by interviewees ^24826^Interviewees' reasons for taking literacy courses ^24927^A summary of responses of interviewees to questions dealing withthings that have had a great effect on their lives ^25028^A summary of the initial responses of interviewees to, "Do youbelieve that you can be successful at things you set out to do ?" ^25029 A summary of responses of interviewees concerning why they do ordo not believe that they can do things they set out to do ^25130^A summary of sources of confidence as mentioned by interviewees.Sources of confidence are things, other than success, that give ^251strength.31^Areas of confidence mentioned by interviewees. Areas ofconfidence are things that a person feels that he can do well. ^25232^Areas of anxiety as mentioned by interviewees ^25233^Responses of interviewees concerning where they learned to beresponsible ^253vi i34 What interviewees considered to be their greatest responsibility 25335 Reasons why it is acceptable to quit a job mentioned by interviewees ^ 25336 Sources of pride of interviewees as mentioned in first responses  ^25437 A summary of the things that interviewees were proud of  ^25438 A summary of the things that interviewees were not so proud of  ^25539 A summary of how interviewees knew if they had done a good job  ^25540 A summary of how interviewees feel about other people's opinions  ^25641 A summary of first responses to questions on how these intervieweeslearn something new 25642 A summary of the different methods which interviewees use to learnsomething new 25743 A summary of the number of learning methods per person mentionedby interviewees 25844 A comparison of the steps interviewees employ when learningsomething new 25845 A summary of the responses of interviewees to what a person has tobe better at because he can not read or write  ^25946 A summary of things that interviewees felt they were personallygood at  ^25947 A summary of the strategies employed by interviewees to keeppeople from discovering their illiteracy  ^26048 A summary of the alternatives to reading employed by interviewees  ^26149 A summary of the alternatives to writing employed by interviewees 26250 A summary of the importance of memory as reported byinterviewees  ^26351 Responses and numbers of different responses of interviewees to thequestion "What do you do for fun or entertainment?"  ^264viii52 Types of people interviewees prefer to socialize with ^26553 Interviewees' reported involvement in clubs and groups 26654 A summary of responses of interviewees to questions about theproblems faced because of illiteracy ^26755 A summary of the solutions to illiteracy problems mentioned byinterviewees ^26856 A summary of the views of interviewees concerning how success canbe achieved 26857 A summary of the views of interviewees concerning what success is ^26958 Involvement of interviewees in literacy programs ^27059 A summary of the locations of the neighbourhoods of theinterviewees in this study ^27060 A summary of "I don't know" respondents ^27161 A summary of the views of interviewees concerning why so manyCanadians are unemployed ^271ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am indebted to several people. William Griffith, my advisor, has been a constantsource of inspiration and support. His countless hours of reviewing drafts and makingrecommendations have made completion possible. Donald Fisher and Bernard Mohan,my dissertation committee members, have willingly shared their expertise. Thefollowing, many friends, have helped in various ways: Sandy Milne, Trudy Watts,Barbara Marchant, Mary Oliver, Brian Woodland, Venild Tortora, Jan Gurnick, and BillMcNeil of CBC Radio aided in the location of subjects; Tracy Pfeiffer listened to tapesand recorded responses to help verify the accuracy of data; Jim Gilhuly waded throughthis manuscript more than once and helped me tighten my style; and Jane Buchan workedwith me on the final editing. Finally, those forty interesting and patient men whosupplied the information on which this study is based must be thanked. So they may livetheir lives in peace, they can not be named but they have taught me more about life andliteracy than any courses I have ever taken and for this I am humbly grateful.I must also thank my wife and my sons although I know thanks can never repaywhat has been given, accepted, and even overlooked.ixCHAPTER 1INTRODUCTIONThis study considers the views of illiterate men on the nature and effects of theirilliteracy. These men, unable to read beyond the grade-three level, describe the feelings,ideas, values, and attitudes that inform their daily lives. As a result, new questions aboutthe effects of illiteracy arise. This chapter sets the stage for the study, outlines theproblem, explains the research, states relevant definitions, and finally indicates theorganization of the dissertation.Setting the StageMany perceive illiteracy to be one of the major problems facing the world'snations. Although not new, this concern for illiteracy is particularly urgent inindustrialized nations with their vast numbers of people apparently unable to function ineveryday life because they can not read or write. According to a Southam News survey,5 million illiterate adults live in Canada, about 24 per cent of the adult population(Calamai 1987a, 7). In the United States, conservative estimates place this numberbetween 20 and 30 million (Chisman 1989, iii). Further, the pool of illiterate adults isestimated to grow by 2.3 million every year (Forlizzi 1989, 4). The business world isconcerned with the cost of illiteracy as suggested by statistical evidence (Ontario Ministry12of Skills Development 1988). In spite of widespread concern, the problem persists. Inthe following pages, questions about this important issue are explored in order toestablish the basis for this study.What Is the Popular Perception of Illiteracy?Illiteracy is generally perceived as affecting people's ability to function in society.Those who cannot read or write are thought to struggle more than others do simply tomake a living, raise children, protect their rights, and carry out normal routines liketravelling and shopping. Many believe that illiterate people are neither capable oflearning nor able to think at even moderate levels of difficulty. Stereotyped imagesdepict illiterate people as embarrassed, withdrawn, and secretive. Generally, they areperceived to need help and to be aware of this need (Hunter and Harman 1979, 110-13).In society, illiteracy is seen as the cause of numerous problems such as crime,poverty, illness, and political apathy (Graff 1978 and Calamai 1987a). Illiterate peopleare often considered misfits caught up in a cross-generational, self-perpetuating cycle ofpoverty. Economically, illiteracy is thought to cost millions as a result of lost work timecaused by illness, inefficiency, and injury, while literacy is thought to contributesignificantly to economic development (Calamai 1987a, 32).According to these common biases, illiterate people lack important skills considerednecessary for a normal and successful life. Although long held, these views are nowheredefined and are seldom espoused by literacy experts. Yet, these prejudices aboutilliterate people influence many literacy programs and pervade public thinking, especially3among those groups who affect literacy policy and practice.Who Fosters and Promotes These Ideas?Among those fostering such ideas about illiteracy are members of the media.Typically, newspaper articles concentrate on the problems faced by illiterate people wherestories, often emotionally charged, are written to encourage public opinion for newprograms or campaigns. The Southam News report on illiteracy in Canada, Broken Words: Why Five Million Canadians Are Illiterate (Calamai 1987a), is the latestexample of such an attempt to affect public opinion and government policy. Since thereport's publication, an increase in public interest in illiteracy in Canada has occurred.Statistics contained in the report have been employed by government to support publicpolicy initiatives.As well, television specials and Hollywood take a similarly biased approach.Movies such as Stanley and Iris (Sellers and Winitsky 1989) present images of illiteratepeople incapable of any achievement until they are literate. While literacy is a mostdesirable goal, the depiction of the illiterate person as someone without skill and ability isboth unjustifiable and damaging.In addition to the media, governments find it useful to maintain stereotypes. Theimage of the deficient illiterate person helps sustain support for worthwhile literacyprograms but, at the same time, may deflect public concern from other causes of povertyand social unrest which governments appear either unwilling or unable to confront. TheHunter and Harman report on illiteracy in the United States (1979) sparked North4American interest. The First Lady, Mrs. Bush, has sponsored a campaign in the UnitedStates while various provincial governments are responding to the Southam report and topressures from business in Canada. Responses similar to these have occurred elsewherein the world; active literacy campaigns are run in developing countries like Nicaragua andBrazil. In addition, the problems of illiteracy have become a high priority for the UnitedNations as evidenced by its declaring 1990 International Literacy Year. The war onilliteracy has become a major focus for governments and international agenciesresponding to a world-wide call for equality and a fair chance for the poor andunderprivileged. This is troubling only when the campaign for literacy denigratesilliterate individuals, thus denying quantifiable strengths that might otherwise be builtupon in the attempt to increase literacy.A third group fostering negative images of illiteracy and illiterate people is made upof teachers, academics, administrators and counsellors associated with literacy programs.Some providers of these programs seem to feel that advancing the concept of the illiterateperson's inadequacy will somehow hasten the problem's solution and not discourageotherwise eager participants in programs offering to expand their ability to function in theworld. Frequent advertisements in major magazines suggesting that illiterate people"cannot read this page" or cannot function well in daily life bring the seriousness of theproblem to the reading public. These advertisements guarantee support for governmentpolicies and grants and attract volunteers for financially strapped programs.Unfortunately, they also have the negative effect of diminishing the self-esteem andability of the people they are attempting to help.5The final and increasingly influential voice affecting general views of illiteracycomes from the business world. The workplace is now a major focus for the energiesexpended in the name of a more literate labour pool. Millions of dollars, it is said, arebeing lost yearly as a result of the dangers or inefficiencies involved in employingilliterate people. Business is supporting workplace learning centres that it hopes willstem the tide of current or future economic loss. Clearly, ample reason exists forbusiness to be involved in education at all levels, since government funding for literacyprograms has been unpredictable and sporadic. Since the time and financial investmentsaimed at increasing literacy are so great, it is crucial that programs designed to do so beeffective.When so many interest groups foster and promote public interest in illiteracy, itspersistence calls for investigation.What Is Happening in the Campaign Against Illiteracy?In 1983, Washington stated that 2.3 million adults were enrolled in federally fundedAdult (Basic) Education (ABE) programs -- usually some form of high school upgrading -- aimed at improving literacy and job skills. (In Ontario, ABE most often refers to basicliteracy and numeracy courses only). Given an estimated 23 million functionally illiterateadults at that time (Thomas 1983, 10), the participation rate in these programs wouldhave been about ten per cent; Washington further pointed to a typical dropout rate forABE programs of fifty per cent, suggesting a net participation rate of five per cent. Thisrate of participation was an improvement on the one per cent noted by Griffith and6Cervero in 1977, and may reflect improved courses or ways of reaching undereducatedadults; however, the fact remains that few undereducated adults do or did take advantageof opportunities to eliminate their illiteracy. This result confirms earlier findingsassociating a lack of education with low participation rates in adult education courses(Cross 1981, 54; Glustrom 1983, 19).Much money has been invested in ABE and Adult Literacy programs in the recentpast with periodic reminders of the prevailing beliefs regarding the great social andeconomic problem of illiteracy (Cairns 1977, 43-51; Dickinson 1978, 83-89; Wellborn1982, 53-56; Washington 1983 ; Coleman 1983 ; and Calamai 1987a). Yet participationremains at five per cent. In addition, completion of literacy programs does not lead tothe kind of improved work experience or quality of life that people are often led tobelieve it does (Levine 1982; Berlin 1983). Thus, those promoting literacy as a solutionto many problems are faced with poor results and an unresponsive target population.Why Is the Fight Against Illiteracy Not Succeeding?A number of reasons for this lack of success can be hypothesized from an appraisalof the evidence. One relates to the existence of assumptions about illiterate people thatappear to underlie much of what is studied or planned in this area. A second relates tothe lack of knowledge about illiterate people and their perceptions, while a third relates tothe existence of definitions of literacy that may be conceptually inadequate andmisapplied.Assumptions. Three assumptions about illiterate adults seem to have considerable7effect on programs offered and research conducted. The first is that illiteracy is aproblem and is recognized as such by all illiterate adults. Since illiterate individuals areexpected to find their condition a burden, virtually no one mentions the existence, despitethe evidence, of adults who do not feel so burdened. The second is that literacy isdeemed a precondition for learning, and thus, almost without exception, ABE programsinclude a literacy component. The third concerns the belief in the necessity for auniversal standard of literacy, an assumption that leads to the idea that being literaterepresents one side of a dichotomous state -- either you are or are not literate (Guthrieand Kirsch 1984, 351-55). As a result, most programs neither offer different levels ofliteracy competence, nor evaluate success in terms of these varying degrees. A personwho achieves a pre-set grade level is assumed to be "literate", and hence should be asprepared as any other person who successfully completes the same requirements. Theseassumptions effectively limit the pool of potential ABE users. The first assumptionexcludes those who do not find illiteracy a burden while the second eliminates thoseinclined towards methods of learning other than the printed word. A recent study byJames and Galbraith (1985) found that adults ranked print fifth in a list of perceptuallearning preferences after visual, interactive, aural, and haptic modes. The thirdassumption does not recognize that people function at different levels of literacy.Consequently, programs that establish and aim for one level may not meet the needs ofpotential users who are on some other level. Combined, these assumptions restrict thepotential client group considerably.Lack of Knowledge. Very little is actually known about the illiterate adult8population beyond the prejudices of the dominant literate society. With the exception ofresearchers such as Fingeret (1982a), Sisco (1983), Heisel and Larson (1984), Manning(1984), and Wood (1984), few have attempted to measure or identify the perceptions ofilliterate adults; no one has done so with a sample employing multiple selection criteria.For instance, it is unclear whether illiterate adults even view their world in ways similarto those of literate adults. If the perceptions of the illiterate minority contrast with thoseof the dominant group, then poor participation rates in courses created by the dominantgroup should be expected. To develop programs without consulting the proposed users ofthe service is inefficient.Definitions. The definitions of literacy forming the conceptual basis for policy andpractice are often limiting in scope and focus. As with literacy research, they tend to benarrowly fashioned by the perspective of the literate society. Illiteracy becomes theopposite of literacy rather than an entirely different and often helpful means of perceivingthe world. Paramount among the weaknesses of definitions arising from this narrow viewis the attempt to establish a universal standard of literacy. Recent studies (Powell 1978;Levine 1982; and Guthrie and Kirsch 1984) suggest that people in general embracevarying degrees and levels of literacy; some may be partially literate or their chosenlife-style may require a higher or lower level of mastery of language. As long as theseconsiderations are ignored, programs based on the narrower view of literacy as a single,typical and wholly self-sufficient or independent state are likely to be poorly attended andthus relatively unsuccessful.An additional irony arises from attempts to define literacy. As stated, definitions9tend to be narrow and skill-oriented. Yet a tendency exists to take this narrowly definedgroup, that is, those who cannot read or write according to a single standard, and assignit a wide range of characteristics. These characteristics, described earlier, range fromembarrassment and withdrawal to an inclination towards crime and a self-perpetuatingcycle of poverty and ignorance. The result of this unique defining process is a tendencyto include all illiterate people in one definition and then to attribute as wide a range ofafflictions as possible to them; consequently, people are often misdiagnosed and programssometimes miss the mark.This narrow definition of literacy does not guarantee any sense of unanimity. Infact, almost as many definitions of literacy exist as people or institutions offering them.As a result, programs to alleviate illiteracy are difficult to coordinate and produce widelyvarying results.The total effect of these assumptions is a continuing restrictive focus on illiterateadults. In what is often considered to be the definitive statement on types of illiterateadults, Hunter and Harman recognize four sub-groups among the illiterate population(1979, 110-113). Although categorized according to relative degrees of success, illiterateadults are perceived to be suffering from the same problem and to be in need of help.Little or no consideration is given to illiterate adults who manage to cope well with dailylife and who perceive little if any need to improve their skill with the written word. Nordoes the Hunter and Harman classification recognize large groups of adults who, althoughthey can read, choose not to when they can avoid it. One result of this narrow focus maybe that programs based on these assumptions about illiteracy ignore the existence of10illiterate adults who are reasonably successful and satisfied with their circumstances,thereby excluding a considerable part of the illiterate population. It seems unreasonableto expect high participation rates in programs offered under these assumptions. Inaddition, successful illiterate adults demonstrate useful and necessary skills and abilitiesthat are not normally acquired as part of formal schooling.These discrepancies and contradictions call for further research into the perceptionsof illiterate adults in order to correct the low participation rates and unimpressive resultsof literacy programs (Roomkin 1973, 87-96; Moore 1978, 190-200; Levine 1982,249-66; Washington 1983; and Berlin 1983).The ProblemDespite wide concern for the problems of illiteracy and well publicized governmentefforts to eradicate it, the numbers of illiterate people are greater than ten or twenty yearsago. Target clientele still resist programs aimed at extricating them from what issometimes described as a hopeless situation. Even when illiterate people register in theliteracy programs created for their benefit, little personal or financial change results intheir lives. Why?The lack of success of well intended programs may result from ignorance about theneeds and aspirations of prospective learners and the skills they require. With theseshortcomings in mind, this research aims at discovering how illiterate men with varyingdegrees of economic success perceive themselves and cope with both their illiteracy andthe demands of the literate world.11The PurposeThe purpose of this research is two-fold: one, to examine the accuracy of the viewof the illiterate male as deficient; and two, to discover how illiterate men cope withliterate society and through these coping skills become financially successful.This study focuses on men for three reasons. First, a study dealing only withilliterate women was in progress (Horsman 1990) at the time of preparation; second, as amale, this researcher expected better success interviewing men; and third, a sample ofmen was likely to reflect better career prospects (as they are narrowly defined in thisstudy) given conditions of employment and opportunities for women over the past fiftyyears. The study's narrow definition of success embraces only income and employmentrecords. Study subjects deemed to have been most successful were currently earning$30,000 or more per year (the Canadian average as of 1986, the most up-to-date censusmaterial available at this writing) and had rarely been unemployed since having leftschool. Results of this study were expected to contradict arguments positing wage andemployment opportunities as the key benefits of becoming literate. Admittedly, successhas a much wider scope than it is given here; however, the commonly accepted standardof financial success allows for discussion that relates directly to the current populardebate over the values of literacy training.Successful illiterate adults pique interest because they contradict the numerousprejudices against them. They function well in society without supposed essentials likethe ability to read and write; they appear unmoved by the literacy debate, thus presentinga clear minority view; and, they have developed certain skills that can at least partially12account for their success. Thus, a consideration of successful illiterate men shoulduncover useful ways of improving programs aimed at increasing job prospects forprospective clients. Specific reasons for the failure of many literacy programs might alsobe found.Organization of the DissertationThis dissertation's eight chapters consist of a literature review, a description of datacollection and analysis, the reporting of results, a profile of a typical successful illiteratemale compared to the popular perception of illiteracy and to the related stream ofresearch begun by Fingeret (1982a), and a summary and conclusion.Appended are copies of the original and revised interview protocols; biographicalsketches and charts comparing each interviewee; tables of biographical data for all thoseinterviewed; tables of perceptions; and an overview of the process of locatinginterviewees and conducting interviews.CHAPTER 2REVIEW OF THE LITERATUREThe literacy issue has inspired an immense body of literature, with topics rangingwidely to include everything from the meaning of literacy to programs, problems, andresearch. Much that is written is emotionally charged as a result of the sensitivity of theissue.First examined here is the view of illiteracy common to the literature, coupled withaccepted categories and assumptions, and recent writing suggesting a new perspective.Then presented is a view of how ignorance and misperception distort commonly heldviews about illiterate people, revealing how various social agencies contribute to thesedistortions.Typical North American policy and program responses, most of them built onpossibly inaccurate perceptions of the problem, are then considered. Identified next areideas, criticisms, and suggestions proposed in some of the newer literature that mightdetermine the direction of new research and improve our present responses to illiteracy.The last section, "Developing a Research Plan", includes a brief rationale for theresearch method chosen and an overview of recent and related literacy research.1314Perceptions of the Nature of IlliteracyMany believe that illiteracy makes life harder for all illiterate adults than for theirliterate counterparts. This perception and some of the alternative ways of looking at theeffects of illiteracy provide the basis for much of the literature reviewed in this chapter.Categories of Illiterate PeopleThe four categories of illiterate adults described here represent generally acceptedconceptions of the range of illiterate "types". In turn, these ideas influence the designand implementation of literacy campaigns and learning activities.In their 1979 report to the Ford Foundation, Hunter and Harman attempted todevelop categories of illiterate adults in order to avoid "blurring the genuine distinctionsin the situations, needs, and aspirations of those with educational deficiencies" and tostimulate a "balanced approach to research . . . to obtain accurate and systematic datathat does not distort reality and that is useful for policy-making" (Hunter and Harman,110). The Hunter and Harman categories are similar to those first suggested by theAppalachian Adult Education Centre and identify four groups in what they refer to as the"broad spectrum" of "disadvantaged" adults. The following passages provide a briefsynopsis of each of the Hunter and Harman categories.Group 1. At one end of the spectrum are those who appear to be most like thedominant American cultural group. Although members of this group have dropped out ofschool, they continue to learn through non-formal learning experiences, occasionalcourses, and reading. Most are regularly employed, either inside or outside the home,15and raise families. In addition, they are surrounded by people who have completed theirschooling. Members of this group are embarrassed by their lack of a diploma, a lack thatfor them is a barrier to advancement and self-esteem. The members of this groupgenerally wish to become literate and often do well in school when they return to aprogram of study.Group 2. The members of the second group have more serious educationaldeficiencies. Having left school earlier than Group 1, they have never really learned toread; however, they still belong to social groups where literacy is assumed. Theirembarrassment stems not only from their lack of a diploma but also from their inability todo simple tasks. They live in fear of discovery, often going to extremes to hide theproblem. They have trouble admitting this difficulty and may even secretly seek help.They are slightly harder to reach than Group 1.Group 3. These people suffer multiple deprivations, live in high poverty areas,have generally failed at school. As a result, they place a low value on schooling; if theyreturn, they end up with little hope that things can improve. The members of this groupare even harder to reach than the other two; they not only have hostile feelings towardeducation but also tend to live among people with lower skills who are sceptical abouttheir return to school.Group 4. The members of this group merge on the spectrum with Group 3 inexperience and environment but have even less hope of improvement. Their interactionwith the literate society is minimal; they appear unable to take advantage of programs setup for them. They seem doomed to a cycle of poverty and deprivation although some16hold out hope for their children (Hunter and Harman 1979, 110-113).Although at one end of this spectrum group members have had moderate successand appear to fit in with the literate society, members of all groups are deemed to needliteracy education, either as a result of their own or others' assessments. Implicit in thiscategorization is the assumption that those who are illiterate, to whatever degree, wouldbe able to improve themselves materially and financially by improving their level ofliteracy. Thus, literacy becomes a prerequisite not only for economic success but also forpeace of mind and a positive self-image. Situations in which literacy is unrelated to theachievement of success are not considered.The four categories suggest types of educationally disadvantaged adults who aresensitive in varying degrees to their supposed disadvantage, and who may even see aneed for more schooling. However, this categorization assumes that all those who lack ahigh school diploma also lack the skills and benefits accruing to those who achieve thiseducational plateau. Thus, such categories fail to acknowledge the possible existence ofadults who lack credentials but have steady employment, a stable home life, a house oftheir own, and seem untroubled by their inability to read. Such are the adults with whomthis study is most concerned, adults whose existence at least partially brings into questionassumptions concerning the disadvantages of illiteracy. The existence of illiterate adultswhose lives are relatively normal in every way provides researchers with an interestingpopulation for whom something other than literacy has led to success.17The Existence of Other GroupsRichard Darville, quoted in the 1987 Southam News report Broken Words, saysthat, "the stereotype of the illiterate down-and-outers just doesn't hold . . . . They aregood workers, loving parents, helpful friends and neighbours" (Calamai 1987, 16).Darville's words suggest the existence of illiterate adults who do not fit neatly intoHunter and Harman's four categories. When compared to those in the conventionalcategories, important sub-groups are revealed within the larger illiterate group aboutwhom little is known.Heisel and Larson, in a study of elderly blacks in Newark, New Jersey, have foundthat even though most of their subjects are considered functionally illiterate (havingcompleted, on average, only grade six), seventy-five per cent consider themselvesaverage or better readers, and only ten to fifteen per cent have difficulty functioning intheir own milieu. Rather than being embarrassed, they are particularly satisfied withtheir achievements (Heisel and Larson 1984, 63-70).In a study aimed at replicating Allen Tough's "Adult Learning Projects" study withrural adults, especially those with fewer than twelve years of formal education, BurtSisco has found that people in this group tend to pursue self-directed learning with acommitment similar to those in Tough's original population of college graduates.Illiterate individuals display neither the reluctance to learn, nor the perception thatilliteracy stifles their learning (Sisco 1983, 14-15).Arlene Fingeret's work also provides interesting insights into the perceptions ofilliterate adults. She has found many of them share a strong bond and social relationship18with an extended social group, one often containing illiterate members. Tasks areshared; each contributes. In addition, Fingeret has found some illiterate adults with astrong self-concept based on an ability to solve problems. They refer to their skill as"common sense", and hold it equivalent to "book learning" (Fingeret 1982b).In a study that focuses on independent black businessmen in the Syracuse area,Allen Manning defines his group as having an annual income of at least $20,000 and areading level lower than that of the average grade four student. He has discovered thatthese men do not consider their level of literacy a particular problem, even though someof them have been involved in literacy classes. More important for them is their abilityin handling the system, or "learning the ropes", as they call it (Manning 1984).F.L. Graves and B. Kinsley have identified another significant group. By analyzingstatistical data on reading activity and level of education, they discovered the existence of"elective illiterates" (1983, 315-331). These people can read and write but choose not to.According to Graves and Kinsley's statistics, "elective illiterates" account for 9.2% of theoverall population ranging from a high of 21.8% among people with public schooleducation to a low of .08% among those with a university degree. No stigma is attachedto their non-reading; they feel little or no need to read in their daily lives. By extensionthen, the emphasis on the importance of reading for daily functioning may be misplaced.The above studies indicate that some people are not easily included in Hunter andHarman's four categories. Not everyone regards the acquisition of reading and writingskills as a prerequisite for normal functioning. Some people do not feel particularlyembarrassed or inferior because of their perceived disadvantage. Others appear to19prosper and do not need to be literate to earn a living. A knowledge of how these peoplefeel about themselves and their achievements would be illuminating. They can beidentified either as belonging in the Hunter and Harman categories or as being distinctlydifferent from them. In any case, theirs is an experience that provides insight into howpeople succeed.Assumptions and Their WeaknessesFor many years, certain assumptions about literacy have informed both research andpractice. In some ways, these assumptions have limited the nature of research undertakenand the types of programs offered to illiterate people. An awareness of theseassumptions, their historical origins and inherent inadequacy, is paramount in furtherresearch. The assumptions under scrutiny are that a direct causal relationship existsbetween literacy and social problems such as crime, unemployment, and poverty, thatliteracy is an essential factor in the economic development of both the individual and thesociety, that literacy is a prerequisite for participation in the political process, and thatilliterate people are less suited than literate people to career advancement, and thereforeare less likely to achieve it.Illiteracy and social problems. The link between illiteracy and social problems likecrime, unemployment and poverty is often discussed in the popular press. On May 17,1982, the U.S. News and World Report quoted Barbara Bush, the wife of the then VicePresident of the United States: "Most people don't know we spend $6.6 billion dollarsper year to keep 750,000 illiterates in jail, . . . . I'm trying to remind people that there's20a direct correlation between crime and illiteracy and unemployment" (Wellborn 1982,53). A year later, in the Los Angeles Times of September 9, 1983, then U.S. EducationSecretary, Terrel H. Bell said, "Functional illiteracy correlates highly to crime rates and. . . it obviously relates to the great unemployment problem" (Irwin and Houston, 1-7).On September 9, in an article in the Washington Post, E. Thomas Coleman, a Republicanrepresentative from Missouri stated, "People who can't read earn $4,000 per year lessthan their counterparts who can" (1983, A17). He further asserted that "functionalilliteracy is costing the society as a whole an estimated $6.7 billion in federal socialspending programs, and $6 billion in lost production . . . this year" (A17). These viewsalso exist outside of America. The 1987 Southam News report on illiteracy in Canadaexpresses the author's belief that illiteracy among Canadians contributes directly to thecosts of social assistance programs and of running prisons (Calamai 1987a).The positing of this causal link is not a recent phenomenon. Harvey Graff notesthat, in the nineteenth century, Egerton Ryerson, the founder of the public school systemin Ontario, "succinctly stated that ignorance -- the lack of schooling -- was the first factorin the life of crime" (Graff 1979, 239). The Globe, a Toronto newspaper of the time,published a similar viewpoint: "'Educate your people and your gaols will beabandoned'"(239). Another value of literacy was in the elimination of poverty. AgainGraff quotes The Globe of 1851: "If we make our people intelligent, they cannot fail tobe prosperous" (240). The history of these assumptions can be traced back further(Goody and Watt 1968; Graff 1981; and Pattison 1982). The entrenchment of thistradition in perpetuating beliefs about illiteracy should not be underestimated; values and21beliefs have been passed from generation to generation.Also important, however, is a growing awareness that any causal relationshipbetween illiteracy and social ills may be exaggerated, if not completely untrue. Hunterand Harman target this causality precisely: "We must dispel two myths: that literacy isthe primary cause of progress, and that illiteracy is the cause of poverty and injustice"(1979 109). Pattison (1982) agrees: "Reading and writing in itself is a neutral talentincapable of effectuating change without some further training" (152). Michael Fox(1986) states "that improvement [literacy] will not automatically get [illiterate people]better jobs or keep them out of trouble" (10). Finally, Forlizzi (1989) says that "the roleof literacy in helping to reduce the number of homeless is rather controversial as thecorrelation between homelessness and illiteracy has not yet been determined" (6).Some who accept a causal relationship between literacy and one or more of theeconomic factors listed above suggest the opposite causal link. Hunter and Harman(1979) describe this thinking in the following three passages: First, "If it is true . . . thatliteracy skills are not sought unless they are generally considered desirable within theculture -- that is unless 'literacy consciousness' is the norm . . . -- then it is probable thatliteracy skills follow rather than precede development"(15). Second, "Research suggeststhat poverty and the power structures of society are more responsible for low levels ofliteracy than the reverse"(10). Finally, "Acquisition of reading and writing skills wouldeliminate conventional illiteracy among many, but would have no appreciable effect onother factors that perpetuate the poverty of their lives" (p.10). Graff (1979) also raisesthe question of causality repeatedly.22Little has been written to contradict the belief that illiteracy causes crime; however,Graff (1979) found that, in 19th century Ontario, "illiterates in Middlesex and Londonwere not the most frequent offenders; nevertheless, they were punished with greaterregularity than others" (256). He believes that the rates of conviction were related topatterns of discrimination and social prejudice against the Irish, the lower classes, andwomen.The issue of the relationship between literacy and the various socio-economicproblems remains unsettled. Statistical data imply a strong correlation, often interpretedas causal. However, no concrete proof of causality has been established, while severalimportant writers consider it reasonable to assume either no causal link, or one oppositethat of conventional thinking.Literacy and economic development. The UNESCO "Recommendation on theDevelopment of Adult Education" suggests that literacy be "an integral part of adulteducation because it is a crucial factor in political and economic development, intechnological progress, and in social and cultural change" (1976, 1). The perception of aclose relationship between literacy and economic development seems to have arisenconcurrently with the concept of functional literacy. According to this concept, literacyis an important tool for the successful economic development of communities (Bhola1979, 38; Hunter and Harman 1979, 14; Tripathi 1970, 5). When primarily associatedwith programs of economic development in the Third World or undeveloped nations, thebelief that literacy is an integral part of economic development remains relativelyunchallenged. Concern arises when claims are made about the value of literacy (most23often functional) for personal economic improvement.Focusing on the economic benefits of literacy, Scharles (1970) states:Generally speaking, investment in human capital at the basic or primary educationallevel provides greater returns than similar investment at higher educational levels.Basic education investment in the United States provides a nine per cent return oninvestment for two years of schooling and twenty-nine per cent return for eight yearsof schooling. (138)Fundamental to the perception of many is Scharles' statement concerning the relationshipsbetween basic education (typically including literacy) and job acquisition along withpersonal economic welfare. Of course, this argument ignores the fact that highlyeducated people may also be unemployed and that certain crimes can only be committedby educated people. Superficially, the idea that being educated lessens the chance ofsuffering some social ill makes sense. Most statistics show that more education bringsbetter job prospects and generally higher incomes. The relationship appears solid as longas social factors such as home environment and family tradition are ignored.Neither is the supposed link between literacy and economic development lost on thosewho promote the idea of illiteracy as a national disgrace. For example, the SouthamNews report of October 1987 spoke openly of the economic costs of undereducation.Among these costs were unnecessary unemployment insurance payments, inflated pricesto cover mistakes, subsidies for industrial retraining, lost taxes, and reduced internationalcompetitiveness (Calamai 1987a, 31-33). In June of 1988, Paul Jones, President of theCanadian Business Task Force on Literacy, told businessmen in Cambridge, Ontario thatilliteracy costs Canada about $10 billion a year (Wood 1988, B3).However, an assessment of claims that basic education at the adult level can provide24improved jobs and income reveals a slightly different picture; some writers againchallenge this assumption. Levine (1982) states that "the elevation of literacy as apanacea for adults is disingenuous, particularly with respect to the goal of employment incompetitive labour markets" (250). Echoing this view, Berlin (1983), in a FordFoundation report entitled "The Role of Remedial Education in Improving SchoolAchievement, Job Training and Future Employment," states that "researchers contendthat increases in literacy levels are rarely associated with increases in employment, jobadvancement, personal growth, or economic growth" (12). A study by Moore (1978)also indicates that "even with the acquisition of basic literacy skills, most jobs arelow-paying with questionable promotion or long-term employment possibilities" (198).Another study, conducted by Roomkin (1973) in Milwaukee, checks the relationshipbetween improved incomes and adult education. He finds the average pre-tax benefit fortrainees is $159 per year while the average cost per student (based on 307 hours) is$1,274 (93). Apparently, little has been uncovered to counter these conclusions; James(1990) can still say that "it is rarely the case that literacy enables a greater degree ofcontrol over one's life, particularly in the workplace" (17). Consequently, the belief thatliteracy automatically leads to better jobs and higher incomes for adult learners must bechallenged.The history of this belief has been explored by several writers (Goody and Watt1968; Soltow and Stevens 1977; Graff 1978, 1979; Pattison 1982). Some evidencecorrelates literacy to wealth and job mobility, and establishes a popular perception ofsuch a relationship (Soltow and Stevens 1977). However, nothing conclusive regarding25the possibility of a causal relationship exists. In fact, Heath's suggestion that "if studentsacquired the moral values, social norms, and general rational and cultural behaviours ofliterate citizens (even though their skills of communication were questionable),occupational mobility often resulted" (1980, 125) implies that other factors ought to beconsidered as causes of wealth and job success.Whether or not literacy is a primary factor in economic development remains asignificant issue in the ongoing debate. Making literacy an issue is of use to industriesand businesses that employ educational certification to screen prospective employees.Governments can exploit beliefs surrounding literacy as a means of developing popularpolicies. Finally, developing nations may find it economically useful to equate becomingliterate with throwing off the shackles of tradition and entering the twentieth century. Onthe other hand, the failure to see the opposite view continues to place competent illiteratepeople at a disadvantage when they compete for jobs in the marketplace, ultimatelydepriving it of people who can contribute.Literacy and political participation. Few argue with the belief that literacy isprerequisite for participating in democracy. This belief appears sound, supported byevidence of the need for reading and writing in an informed electorate. Presumably theeffective functioning of government depends upon a citizenry able to read governmentpublications and to fill out forms. In addition, a citizen must read reports on candidatesso that informed decisions can be made. Citizens interacting with government need todeal with printed material. For this, literacy is required, the higher the level the moreassured the success, so the traditional argument goes. But the apparent truth of these26points is based on assumptions concerning literacy and its relationship to the democraticpolitical process.The first assumption is that literacy is a human right. This concept was made partof the Declaration of Persepolis in 1975 (Thomas 1983, 239), a declaration that embracestwo commonly held ideas. First, literacy is deemed a factor in developing individualfreedom and potential (Thomas 1983, 9), and in exercising democratic rights likefreedom of the press. It is commonly believed that human rights and democracy areinterrelated and causally linked; neither exists without the other. Second, the idea of a"right" and a "need" are conflated, making the words synonymous. It seems natural toassume that if a personal right exists, the individual must need it; however, literacy maybe optional. For example, with communication advances brought about by technologicalinnovations, citizens may well be informed of political issues without reading about them(Harman 1987, 36).A second implied assumption is that only literate people can make sound decisions.Naturally, since democratic principles require citizens to participate in decision-making,citizens must be literate. This line of argument is enshrined in the liberal philosophy ofJohn Stuart Mill: "Universal teaching must precede universal enfranchisement . . . Iregard it as wholly inadmissible that any person should participate in the suffrage withoutbeing able to read, write and . . . perform the common operations of arithmetic"(Pattison 1982, 148). An unwritten premise that in a free society truth will conquer andthat men will be reasonable if they are schooled underlies these ideas (Pattison 1982).A third assumption presupposes that democracy and literacy have always existed27together (Goody and Watt 1968). It is an assumption that relates the earliest forms ofdemocracy with Athenian Greece, an era associated with renowned philosophers andcritical thinkers. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the early Athenianexperiment involved direct participation by member citizens who were not required to beliterate in order to be allowed to vote.The assumptions underlying the belief in and commitment to literacy as aprerequisite for participation in the political process are questionable. Another way oflooking at the link between literacy and political involvement has to do with the effect ofreading and writing on the distribution of political power.Pattison (1982) states a possibly exaggerated view in quoting eminent anthropologistClaude Levi-Strauss, who says that "the introduction of writing is invariably followed bya consolidation of power in the hands of an authoritarian elite" (61). After all, thedemocratic tradition can be undermined by significant factors other than the mere abilityof its citizens to read and write. Yet Graff (1979), in researching public educationpolicy, found the link between literacy and moral training as a means supposed to preventunruliness among newly literate groups. Theoretically, literacy alone could lead tosubversive activity, since free thinking and open debate, without moral judgement orpolitical orthodoxy to temper them, would naturally lead to revolution. Graff indicatesthat this attempt to use literacy to control disadvantaged groups was the design of leaderssuch as Egerton Ryerson (21-48). Today, one might consider our leaders incapable offormulating such a comprehensive design. However, the machinery to preserve andpromote a continued dominance by the hegemonic social elite exists in the form of a28bureaucracy and an educational system, both of which can be controlled by public policyformulated by those in power, and both of which can exert considerable influence overpublic opinion.The role of literacy here is interesting. Pattison (1982) suggests that ABE trainingmakes learners more efficient, not more intelligent, and that its main usefulness is inpreparing learners for the transfer of basic information (174). He suggests a breakdownin social obedience without literacy (179). Johan Galtung's article entitled "Literacy,Education, and Schooling -- For What?" suggests that "literacy is there to a large extentto create an illusion of equality" (1981, 278). He speaks mainly of literacy as a tool toreceive information and thus it "is not functional; it is only a statistical artifact for largegroups of the population in underdeveloped and overdeveloped countries alike, andprobably even more in the latter because they are more routinized in their workstructures" (279). The most telling criticism comes with Michael James' claim thatliteracy does not "translate into political consciousness, awareness of basic rights, or anability to demystify social reality" (1990, 17), and that " literacy alone rarely guaranteesprivilege, access, or political leverage" (1990, 15). These concerns and critiques are allbased on an interpretation of literacy as non-active, passive, receptive. In our society,the majority of literate people are limited to this receptive literacy and this by itself isunlikely to allow a more active participation in the political process since having receivedinformation, it is very difficult to respond other than at voting time.Statistical proof that literacy is a prerequisite for the smooth functioning ofdemocracy is lacking. High literacy rates in democracies may merely reflect the29increased availability of popular education or a very loose definition of literacy, such asthe ability to sign one's name or fill out a form. However, the seeming logic appearspersuasive, and further information about the political activities of illiterate adults will beneeded to determine the truth.Literacy and superiority. Judgements of superiority or inferiority are based upon acomparison of something against a selected standard. Standards in turn are set by thosedesiring to make a comparison. Consequently, statements about superiority or inferiorityare relative. However, when large groups subscribe to the same values, commonstandards emerge; if the groups also have social, cultural, economic, or political power,these standards may then be imposed upon those lacking power. In the West, the beliefin the equality of beings before God has been a social and political rallying point foralmost two centuries; yet, whites have been deemed superior to blacks, men to women,the working to the unemployed, the educated to the uneducated, and the literate to theilliterate. In each case, the criteria have been decided by the power elite to reflect theirvalues and privileges. Too often, superiority and inferiority have been regarded as innateto the group rather than reflections of opportunities for those groups.Contemporary society and culture are dominated by literate forms; most people areliterate (especially those in positions of influence). Thus the belief in literates'superiority and hence illiterates' inferiority has, as we might expect, wide acceptance.As Bormuth (1978) rightly states, the value of literacy increases in proportion to thenumber of literate individuals in a community. In a contemporary society that attempts tosee itself from a global perspective, the word community expands greatly in meaning. So30communities in which no one is literate can, in the context of a global perspective, beviewed as inferior as long as the usual biases of Western industrialized countries aremade to apply.The assumed inferiority of illiterate people is perhaps more dangerous because it isimplied in much that is written about them, both in the popular press and in seriousacademic works. Whereas academics were in the past forthrightly prejudiced in theviews that they expressed on paper (Levine 1982, 95-98), today the implications ofinferiority are more subtle. Although theirs are not blatantly prejudicial statements, theyare often accepted and become part of the rationale for saying that illiterate adults areinferior to literate ones. As Levine points out, "Ideas like 'the culture of poverty' and`the cycle of transmitted deprivation' arm investigators right from the start with enhancedexpectations of . . . 'differentness" (1982, 98). Added to this are euphemisms such as"educationally disadvantaged" which often have an effect contrary to that intended.Furthermore, hearing or reading about numbers of illiterate adults in jail, unemployed, orliving in poverty merely increases this belief in inferiority. All in all, it is a powerfulpersuader.Some evidence suggests that the superiority of literate people is not assured even bytheir own standards. For instance, Scribner and Cole (1981) report that "research doesnot support designing literacy programs on the assumption that non-literates do not thinkabstractly, do not reason logically, or lack other basic mental processes" (459). Worksby Sisco (1983) and Brockett (1983) suggest that undereducated and illiterate adults doplan and participate in learning projects almost to the same degree that the highly31educated do. In addition, Machalaba in the January 17, 1984 edition of the Wall StreetJournal, discussed the financial success of two illiterate males (1, 17). Thus, thoughsparse, some evidence exists for believing that some illiterate adults do manage well andare not inferior to literate adults.Arlene Fingeret (1983) has discovered that illiterate people are also involved instandard setting. In her survey of urban illiterate adults, she discovered a negative imageof literate people. Her group value "common sense" over "book learning" and havedeveloped a strong community bond based on their shared illiteracy. They do not feelinferior to literate people at all.The idea that being literate makes a person superior to an illiterate person seems torest largely on society's being generally dominated by literate people. Consequently,literate people set the standards and make the rules. The values and norms of the literatetherefore continue to be the values and norms of society as a whole; only when the voicesof illiterate people are heard will it be possible to begin to shed some light on the validityof this widely held belief about the superiority of those who are able to read and writeover those who are not.Much of what has been written about illiteracy tends to look judgementally onilliterate people and their potential; yet this unsympathetic view may not be supportableby all of the evidence. Not all illiterate adults fit the stereotypical models projected bythe Hunter and Harman categories. The supposed causal relationships between literacyand social problems like crime, poverty, and unemployment are suspect. Factors otherthan literacy help shape the individual's economic development. The supposed32relationship between literacy and political participation is not entirely clear, nor is thesupposition that illiterate people have inferior ability or potential when compared to theirliterate counterparts.This evidence indicates a great need to learn more about the lives of illiteratepeople, for only by acquiring such knowledge can we test the assumptions that presentlyinform theory and practice.Forces and Interests That Perpetuatethe Myths About IlliteracyNegative views of illiterate adults are perpetuated by ways of thinking about themthat are too often guided by misleading definitions, assumptions and ignorance, as well asby interest groups such as the media, government, literacy providers, business groups,and academics, all of whom are involved in forming the popular view of illiteracy anddetermining policy and practice. Consideration of these agencies and their views is givenhere, along with examples of some alternative thinking on the matter.Ways of Thinking About IlliteracyInaccurate ways of thinking about illiterate adults perpetuate negative views.Misleading definitions. The definitions of literacy that guide the development ofpolicy and practice have changed yet literacy has usually been considered to be some kindof absolute state -- either you are or you are not literate (Guthrie and Kirsch 1984,351-55). In addition, definitions have, with few exceptions, been based on a universal33standard; that literacy has many levels of difficulty and degrees of achievement has rarelybeen addressed (Powell 1978, 3-8). As a result, programs guided by universal,unidimensional definitions tend to ignore unique individual contexts and needs. Thus, thepossibility exists that groups within illiterate society are not served by these programs andtheir success in the programs is therefore limited.Another related problem is that literacy is often narrowly defined in terms of a levelor range of skills, yet is often interpreted to mean much more than simply the ability toread and write at a certain level. The assumptions about illiteracy and illiterate peoplerevealed earlier in this chapter have become almost automatic responses. By association,therefore, being illiterate is equated with being embarrassed, politically inactive, unableto learn, unlikely to succeed, and troubled by illiteracy.Because these automatic associations are taken for granted, all illiterate people havebeen lumped together in many people's minds; programs for the benefit of illiterate adultshave been designed assuming that they all have similar needs and beliefs about theirpossible shortcomings. As a result, programs have been designed along practical lines:literacy has been seen as required to facilitate the achieving of other goals, like getting ajob or improving one's life. Consequently, economically successful illiterate adults whodo not perceive a need for literacy skills for practical purposes may not be attracted toliteracy programs.Ignorance. assumptions, and misperceptions. Only a few researchers, likeFingeret, Manning, and Wood, have delved deeply into the world of the illiterate person.Many program planners, literacy workers, and volunteer tutors would disagree, but it can34be argued that even though these people expend a great deal of time and passion, they areoften motivated by concern for the problems that illiteracy causes. When this is the case,they bring to their work preconceptions about the nature of their students' abilities andare largely negative in their assessment of what they see.In the long run, their ignorance of illiterate people's perceptions exacerbates theeffect of the following misconceptions: that illiterate people are inclined to other socialproblems like crime, unemployment, and poverty; that illiterate people need and want theskills of literacy; that illiterate persons cannot lead normal lives; that illiteracy preventsthinking and problem solving; that illiteracy prevents learning; that illiterate people areembarrassed and withdraw from social interaction; and that illiterate people cannot besuccessful financially or socially.Interest GroupsSeveral interest groups actively promote negative views of illiterate people althoughtheir motives for doing so are not always clear.The media. Members of the media play a major role in determining popularopinion and government policy concerning illiteracy, which in turn directs literacyproviders who often depend on government grants. With this interrelationship in mind, alook at recent media contributions to the literacy debate will be useful.The latest and most influential, from a Canadian point of view, has been thepreviously mentioned Southam report of 1987 (Calamai 1987a), the result of over 2,000interviews with Canadians. It has served as the primary determinant for a host of35initiatives aimed at eliminating the "problem" of illiteracy. The report sketches a grimpicture of the state of literacy in Canada; most subsequent government and businessresponses to illiteracy have been affected by its findings. According to the report,illiteracy is a major contributor to business losses, government social assistance costs, andincreasing social problems including the rising crime rate. In addition, the Southam viewof illiterate people clearly upholds past stereotypes. Until 1987, Canadians tried toconvince themselves that their illiteracy problem was not as severe as illiteracy in theUnited States. Meanwhile, rhetoric about the problem was less emotional; press coveragewas less sensational; clear thinking was still possible. The Southam report guaranteedthat the Canadian literacy debate would be taken as seriously as it was in the UnitedStates after the early 1980s.The American debate has been emotionally charged, resulting in a campaign to"eradicate" illiteracy. Much of the emotionalism has been a direct result of the nature ofmedia coverage.William S. Griffith suggests that "those who write for the public are more likely toattract attention and sales if they take a sensational approach to the situation and cry outfor crusades and campaigns to correct this awful social ill." Furthermore, since fundingoften depends on public concern, he says "it would seem self-defeating to question thesoundness of the arguments that seem effective in stimulating the appropriation ofadditional funding" (1990, 16).The unfortunate result of this sensationalism is to focus on illiteracy as a plight.Michael Moss sees this as a great mistake: "Our making victims of the illiterate only36fuels their lack of self-respect," whereas "a boost in self-esteem likely would be one ofthe first results of empowering the illiterate with the knowledge that they're not wholly toblame for their condition" (1988, 9-10). Moss also suggests that "there are very realcauses to illiteracy," and that "a misinformed public . . . led to think that explanations ofilliteracy lie with the illiterate . . . is worse than an underinformed public." In addition,Moss says that the government's apportioning blame to illiterate people allows it a moralescape from the responsibility of supplying funds.Governments. From time to time, both U.S. and Canadian federal governments,as well as Canadian provincial governments (who are constitutionally responsible foreducation), become involved in new initiatives aimed at eradicating illiteracy. Rhetoricflows freely, reinforced by opinions espoused in the popular press. On September 8,1988, in a speech made in Toronto, Prime Minister Mulroney said that "adults whocannot read and write cannot participate fully in mainstream Canadian social and culturallife," and further that "the impact of illiteracy on both productivity and workplaceperformance is particularly costly . . . illiteracy leads to increased accidents, lostproductivity, increased unemployment and more extensive training, costing Canada $10billion a year" (Government of Canada 1988, 2). These comments echoed the messagepresented in September 1987 in the Southam News study of the state of literacy inCanada, and were guaranteed to elicit the instant responses that are always forthcomingwhen the public is reminded of the "horrible truth" about illiteracy. The Canadiangovernment, Mulroney said, was preparing to respond.The Ontario Ministry of Skills Development's document, Literacy: The Basics of37Growth, presents a potent set of statistics to support its responses to the Southam report,including social costs which it outlines as follows:$10.7 billion annually -- the conservative estimate of the total drain onCanadian society caused by illiteracy, including$8.8 billion in lost earnings;$1.6 billion in industrial accidents;$0.17 billion in unemployment expenses;$0.08 billion in federal prisons; and$0.03 billion in federal adult education (1988, 10).These estimates appear to be based on the report of the Canadian Business Task Force onLiteracy published in February of 1988 entitled Measuring the Costs of Illiteracy inCanada. When closely examined, this report reveals certain shortcomings in research andpresentation. Estimates were based on the coincidence of data: for example, illiteracywas assumed a factor in industrial accidents because people with less than a grade nineeducation were over-represented in "a number of 'high risk' industries" (16). Theauthors appear to assume that illiterate workers can not communicate and innovate (18),or have no drive and self-esteem (19). The authors also use single situations togeneralize a case (19) and do not always separate the illiterate group from the generalpopulation when making generalizations (19-20).The Ontario Skills Ministry document also states that "many people lacking literacyskills suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of alienation" (1988, 17); that "it is verydifficult for those who lack literacy skills to develop goals for themselves and visions of a38better life " (1988, 17); and that "children of illiterate parents are more likely to beilliterate" (1988, 19) than children of literate parents.These emotionally charged government statements reveal current thinking behindthe development of public policy in Canada, and paint a dismal picture of the lives ofilliterate people. This kind of thinking garners popular support for policies but is notrealistic or reliable about the nature of illiteracy and illiterate people.In January, 1989, Forrest P. Chisman, author of a report on an adult literacyproject sponsored by the Southport Institute for Policy Analysis, called for governmentaction:There is no way in which the United States can remain competitive in the globaleconomy, maintain its standard of living, and shoulder the burden of the retirement ofthe baby boom generation unless we mount a forceful national effort to help adultsupgrade their basic [literacy] skills in the very near future. (iii)Shortly afterwards, on February 9, 1989, Bill H.R. 970 was introduced to the 101stCongress. It proposed to establish a National Center for Adult Literacy. Congressconcluded that "adult literacy is a critical national issue that affects the productivity of theworkforce . . . , the growth of the Nation, and the quality of life of the people of theNation."Although these statements may seem less emotional than some political ones citedabove, they still play on the emotions by referring to maintaining the American way oflife -- they imply that illiteracy can somehow bring on its demise.Casting blame for lost income, lack of productivity, unemployment, industrialaccidents, imprisonment, and other social costs indicates that governments generallysubscribe to the popular, largely negative view of the effects of illiteracy. Moreover,39emotionally charged public statements apparently indicating government positions onilliteracy are bound to promote and perpetuate negativism, especially among literacyproviders whose very existence depends on government funding.Literacy education providers. Literacy providers and related professionalassociations also contribute to a perpetuation of the predominant perspective on illiteracy.Two of the most influential literacy providers in North America are The LiteracyVolunteers of America and Frontier College in Toronto. Both are often at the fore ofnew initiatives. The tutor's manual for the Literacy Volunteers of America illustratestheir bias: "When non-readers come for help, they are usually burdened with socialproblems. . . . Learning is a lifelong experience but one must start with the basics ofreading and writing and the skills to cope with realistic lives" (Colvin and Root 1987, 8,11). Similarly, the latest Frontier College information brochure states that "people whoare illiterate are less active in their leisure time, and watch 24% more television thanpeople who are literate" (1988). Such statements reinforce the assumption that illiteratepeople have many social problems, lack basic skills required to cope with life, and haveboring, non-productive social lives. Griffith (1990, 4) draws attention to a profile of atypical illiterate person found in a Project Literacy promotional package used in BritishColumbia. An illiterate person, it suggests, can be recognized by his avoidance of thewritten word, his career opportunities and his social events; his inability to support afamily or to buy a house or car; his lack of ambition and self-esteem; his beingchronically unemployed and intellectually stifled; and, his having a limited circle ofsupport. This unpleasant profile makes the situation for a typical, illiterate person appear40quite hopeless. Professional associations such as the Movement for Canadian Literacyand the Canadian Association for Adult Education have also contributed to theperpetuation of popular perceptions about illiteracy. In a letter to members dated 20July, 1987, support for a campaign to influence federal, provincial, and territorialgovernments was solicited. The letter stated that, "the enclosed Open Letter to the PrimeMinister, the Premiers and the Territorial Government leaders will be placed in .. .several newspapers and magazines" (Wright 1987; Appendix G). For a minimumcontribution of $25, people could add their names to a supporters' list that was to appearunder the following statement: "Millions of Canadians cannot participate fully in oursociety because they cannot read and write well enough" (Wright 1987). When literacyproviders, the very people expected to be most sympathetic to the illiterate person'sviewpoint, also promote a negative view, all the people involved in the programs areaffected, including tutors, volunteers, and especially learners.Business groups. In recent years, business in both Canada and the United Stateshas become concerned about illiteracy; however, this interest does not appear altruistic.On June 2, 1988, Paul Jones, President of the Canadian Business Task Force onLiteracy, claimed when speaking in Cambridge, Ontario that the cost of illiteracy tobusiness was "$2,000 a year for every single functionally illiterate employee" (Wood1988, B3), and mentioned a $10 billion price tag as the national cost of illiteracy,indicating agreement with the Southam report.Jones' speech coincided with the beginnings of a movement towards what is calledworkplace literacy. Workplace literacy responds to the perceived needs of business and41assumes that the teaching of basic skills on the job rather than in the classroom willachieve greater results. However, the negative image of the illiterate adult endures.Some writers claim rapidly developing technologies make illiteracy a greaterproblem than ever before because unskilled or semi-skilled jobs are replaced by newpositions requiring a much higher level of literacy. For business, this problem translatesinto lost revenue variously attributed to waste, lost productivity, increased remediationcosts, reduced product quality, and ultimately a loss of competitiveness (The NationalAlliance of Business in the United States 1984; the Toronto Sun, April 1987; the OntarioMinistry of Skills Development 1988; Gibb-Clark 1989; and Chisman 1989). The mostpersistent business voice is the newsletter of the Business Council for Effective Literacy.It articulates the problem of illiteracy, and keeps readers informed about new programsand business initiatives to deal with workplace illiteracy.The argument is not with whether businesses can improve efficiency andproductivity with workplace programs but with the continued scapegoating of illiteratepeople. Griffith (1990) is precise: "Can basic and workplace literacy programming bereconceptualized to build upon adults' strength rather than continuing to stress a remedialand deficiency-oriented approach?" (19). Broken Words suggests that a change inattitude is highly unlikely as it describes how some businesses treat illiterate people:"They [retailers] cope with literacy by `dumbing down' the task" (Calamai 1987a, 32).The danger in failing to revise this thinking is that the predictions of Michael Moss aboutilliterate people's self-esteem may well hold, and the potential for self-respect amongilliterate adults will erode to the point that remediation and retraining will be impossible.42The potential effect may boomerang on the business community. Prospective workersmay be frightened away by a fear of the demands of the new technology. Good illiterateworkers may leave for similar reasons. The public and the media will be affected by thedollars spent on advertising the need for workplace literacy programs. The net result willlikely be to reinforce the negative view of illiterate workers.Academics. Some academics espouse a traditional view of the ills of illiteracy andof illiterate people's expectations. Serge Wagner of the University of Quebec inMontreal writes that "being unable to read, write and do arithmetic, together withincomplete basic education, are real handicaps for both the social integration and thepersonal development of those who suffer from them" (Wagner 1985, 410-11). Withinacademia, this view may affect the thinking of literacy providers and instructors exposedto it. Fortunately, this view is uncommon as more and more academics begin to look atilliteracy and illiterate people differently (Brockett, Fingeret, Griffith, Manning, andSisco -- all mentioned above), though these voices have failed to influence public opinionto any great degree.The above references suggest the worst in both popular and official thinking aboutilliteracy in North America, the tendency to adopt and support the traditional viewsconcerning the effects and disadvantages of illiteracy both for the individual and societyas a whole. Fortunately, other points of view, while lacking wide coverage, represent asmall but welcome alternative to the previous position.43Alternative ThinkingAs suggested above, some academics and researchers have begun to questiontraditional interpretations of illiteracy. Arlene Fingeret (1982a), Burt Sisco (1983), RalphBrockett (1983), Allen Manning (1984), and Heisel and Larsen (1984) have discoveredmembers of the illiterate sub-group who do not fit the stereotypical image of insecure,withdrawn, incapable people dependent on others. Hunter and Harman (1979) and Graff(1979) challenged the supposed causal relationship between illiteracy and social problemsand poverty; Pattison (1982), Levine (1982), Berlin (1983), and Michael Fox (1986) seeor find little justification for believing that literacy programs improve the lot of theilliterate person. The perspective is changing slowly, but it is changing.In an article entitled "Overselling Literacy" Frank Smith suggests that the value ofliteracy may be exaggerated. He says that "literacy won't guarantee anyone a job; this isa tragic deception too often perpetrated on the young" (1989, 354). Second, he pointsout that "when literacy is promoted as the solution to all economic, social, andeducational problems, it is easy to assume that the inability to read and write createsthose same economic, social, and educational problems" (355). He continues: "Literacydoes not guarantee jobs or a better life, no matter how extravagant the claims made forit" (358); and concludes, "the world is not crying out for more literate people to take onjobs, but for more job opportunities for the literate and the unlettered alike" (354). Withthese comments, Smith argues against the fundamental poses adopted in the controversy,namely, that literacy will guarantee jobs, that literacy can answer today's economic,social, and educational problems, that literacy will bring better jobs, that the real44problems of unemployment are the numbers of unemployed illiterate adults. He suggeststhat the real problem is simply the overall shortage of jobs for literate and illiterateworkers alike. He implies here that governments may be throwing money away bypromoting literacy programs that cannot possibly do what is expected of them. Worsestill, governments may be purposefully deflecting blame for their inadequate socialpolicies onto the unemployed illiterate worker.Supported and spread by the media, governments, literacy providers, businesses,and academics, the traditional negative view of illiteracy is widespread. Admittedly, thedevelopment of an alternative view has begun, but those who hold these alternative viewshave less influence on public opinion than do the traditionalists. Hence, the generalpublic and those who inform them will likely remain misinformed and thus unable toaddress either the nature of illiteracy or the needs of illiterate adults.Policies and Programs That Respond to thePerceived Problem of IlliteracyFollowing is an overview of some initiatives that have attempted to deal withilliteracy in Canada and the United States.CanadaAt the time of writing, no single source reveals the status of the nation-wide literacyproject. This overview is based on the writer's personal experience as an educator inOntario and on information provided by the coordinator of the local Regional Literacy45Network who represents the region at the provincial level and who knows much about avariety of literacy activities in Canada (Saunders, 1990).Literacy support services. Canadian literacy support systems are just beginning tobe clearly defined. In Ontario, regional literacy networks are being established tocoordinate local programs and touch base with the provincial network. The OntarioLiteracy Coalition is, in turn, part of the national network known as the Movement forCanadian Literacy. Nationally, the MCL has ties with Laubach Literacy of Canada andthe Canadian Association for Adult Education. All present network members hope for aunified national network at some point in the future. They can then access computerinformation banks in order to share data concerning literacy needs, methods, andstrategies. The National Adult Literacy Database was begun in International LiteracyYear to provide a comprehensive record of the nation-wide literacy effort and wascompleted in 1991.Literacy programs. Since education in Canada is primarily a provincialresponsibility, most literacy programs are provided either by provincially supportedboards of education or by private literacy organizations. Very little funding or directioncomes from the Federal government; the funding that is available comes from theSecretary of State's Literacy Secretariat and is provided only for programs with a specifictime limit geared to a specific end result. For example, a provider might apply forfunding for the literacy training of fishermen whose company has recently ceased tooperate.Private groups such as Laubach Literacy, Frontier College, and library programs,46are funded by the provincial Ministry of Education, the Federal Secretary of State, orlocal charitable societies.Provincially funded programs are run mainly by boards of education and communitycolleges. Funding comes in Ontario from either the Ministry of Education or theMinistry of Colleges and Universities, and from parallel organizations in other provinces.Universities receive some funding but concentrate on research and not on the teaching ofliteracy.As in the United States, workplace literacy in Canada is rapidly growing. Fundinghere is shared by provincial governments, local boards of education, and businesscommunities. Workplace education appears to be the place where the provincialgovernments will place more emphasis and money -- at least this is the case in Ontario.The United StatesLiteracy support services. In Adult Literacy in the United States Today, LoriForlizzi (1989, 9-22) surveys available literacy services and programs. Severalorganizations provide important services within the literacy community, among themcoordinating programs within and between both the Department of Education and theprivate sector, stimulating and encouraging new literacy programs and facilitatingreferrals to programs. The organizations mentioned are the Adult Literacy Initiative, theFederal Interagency Committee on Education, the Coalition for Literacy, the BusinessCouncil for Effective Literacy, the Library of Congress, Project Literacy U.S., theAssault on Illiteracy Program, and the Urban Literacy Network.47Literacy programs. Forlizzi lists seventy-nine literacy-related programs, as of1986, administered by fourteen Federal agencies with spending on programs of $347.6million. In addition, several legislative developments extended the literacy initiative: theextension of the Adult Education Act to 1992, the education for a Competitive AmericaAct, the Literacy Corps Assistance Act of 1988, the Workplace Literacy AssistanceProgram, and the Library Service and Construction Act.Beyond the Federal influence are 467 programs run by libraries, 50,000 Laubachvolunteer tutors, 15,000 Literacy Volunteers of America tutors, community developmentagencies, churches, community colleges, universities, business, labour, and the military.These providers extend the influence of the literacy initiative nation wide.What are the effects of the literacy initiatives? This network of programs is notparticularly effective. According to Forrest P. Chisman, "the vast majority of the twentymillion plus [illiterate people] are not reached by any program that would help them inany way" (1989, 5). This stunning criticism of the literacy effort may well apply toCanadian initiatives too.A cursory view does reveal a great deal of activity. Many school boards haveliteracy programs. The libraries are involved, as are private providers across each stateand province. Millions of dollars are spent. Still, the pool of illiterate adults grows.Participation in literacy programs rarely reaches ten per cent of the potential population;the dropout rate remains near fifty per cent. Why has the success rate not improved,given the extensive effort? Why are more illiterate adults not reached by these newprograms? Why do 50% of illiterate adults drop out? In short, what is needed to48improve policies and programs?Program and Policy ImprovementThe need to improve literacy practice is now taken for granted by many whoseideas are presented here under two headings, New Definitions and Literacy Research,both of which lead to an awareness of the directions in which knowledge of illiteracy willhave to expand to meet the needs of illiterate adults more adequately.New DefinitionsThe emerging new perspective on literacy (Guthrie and Kirsch 1984, 351-55) callsfor a definition that relates literacy to social contexts, with input from prospectivelearners being vital to the establishment of literacy levels and needs (Clark 1984,133-46). This definition is rooted in UNESCO's definitions of functional literacy (Levine1982, 249-266), and in those provided by Hunter and Harman (1979, 10). Instead ofassuming that a single standard level of literacy is universally necessary, this newdefinition requires that thought be given to the varying literacy requirements of differentindividuals and communities. In addition, it proposes that programs meet clients at theirown levels. The idea is based on the premise that as the learner gains mastery of aparticular level of literacy and begins to perceive a need to achieve a higher level, thecombination of success and perceived need provides the motivation necessary to seekhigher levels of achievement. With this new focus, emphasis shifts from imposingstandards based on the values of literate society to the need to know how illiterate adults49perceive their circumstances, needs, and goals. The proper starting point of any literacyinitiative is now the strengths and needs of the individual clients rather than the officiallysanctioned needs of the nation state.In Illiteracy: A National Dilemma, David Harman seems to support this newperspective: "There is a question whether a country as vast and diverse as the UnitedStates can adopt and sustain one universal definition of literacy." He suggests that "manyscenarios can be projected, each of which represents different literacy needs and wouldyield different standards and figures" (1987, 32). A perspective such as this increasesour knowledge of illiterate adults' views of literacy and provides data to improve theeffectiveness of literacy programs when employed as a basis for research.Literacy ResearchMichael Fox denounces as a glaring misuse of statistics, evidence from promotersof the need for literacy campaigns to eradicate the great problem of illiteracy:What we don't know, and none of the studies thus far have shown us, is: how wellthose who "flunk" a pen-and-pencil functional skills test normed to reflect "external"middle-class standards of competence actually function in their own environmentsaccording to their own "internal" standards. We do not know, in other words,whether the inability to read a classified ad makes one less apt to get a job, orwhether the inability to read bureaucratese limits access to social services. We do notknow what literacy or lack of literacy means within a certain situation or context.(Fox 1986, 5)Fox decries studies which have typically involved manipulating numbers withoutproviding insight into the nature of the lives of illiterate adults and their perceived needs.Too often, statistics showing high percentages of illiterate adults among the unemployed,the poor, and the imprisoned are interpreted as indicating a causal relationship between50illiteracy and social problems. Moreover, it has been assumed from this simplenumerical association, that making illiterate people literate removes problems they face.Fox and others feel this assumption is inappropriate, especially in view of a profoundlack of success of past and present programs resolving social problems. Research aimedat finding out about the illiterate people -- their hopes, problems, successes, and needs --is essential."We also need to learn more about the human beings on this end of the spectrumand their needs as they see them" said Hunter and Harman in 1979, "as well as thestrengths within their communities that enable them to survive" (113). Here, the authorsare referring to those most educationally deprived groups, but this concern can readily beapplied to all illiterate adults. This sensitivity about the need to learn more about thelives of illiterate adults has grown since Hunter and Harman's Ford Foundation report in1979. As if in response to this expressed need, Shirley Brice Heath stated in 1980 that"ethnographers of education . . . have suggested that participation and observation in thelives of social groups can provide a more comprehensive picture of the uses of literacyand its component skills" (127). Now, as the nineties begin, this point of view is beingre-emphasized. In an interview, Dame Nita Barrow, President of the InternationalCouncil for Adult Education, said that "to be able to overcome illiteracy, go to thepeople, learn from them and then you will know how to teach them" (Yarmol-Franko1990, 11).But the leading proponent of the movement to understand the lives and cultures ofilliterate adults has been Arlene Fingeret. Her doctoral research at Syracuse in 198251created interest and legitimized research in discovering more about the world of theilliterate adult.The Syracuse-based research continued with a dissertation by Allen Manning in1984 that identified a group called "prosperous illiterates" who had views of themselvesquite different from popularly held perceptions of them.These studies have opened a new perspective on illiteracy, a perspective that doesnot define all illiterate adults in the same way and that demonstrates that many seethemselves more positively than had been previously imagined. In addition, both studiesemphasized the value of the interview and other means of qualitative -- rather thanquantitative -- research in the field of literacy. In fact, in her article "Adult literacyeducation: current and future directions", Fingeret says that finally qualitative studies arebeginning to address issues such as the way in which adult readers approach reading, theculture of illiterate adults, and the social characteristics of basic education programs(1984, 4). She writes:Literacy programs that insist on recruiting students by publicizing their functionalincompetence may be participating in creating the very problems the literacyeducation community is committed to addressing. Research must be conducted withsophisticated models that address the interaction between the individual, culture, andlarger social forces. Furthermore, research must go beyond examining illiterateadults only in the context of literacy programs. It must explore the complexity oftheir rich and often difficult lives, their strengths as well as their inability to use theprinted word. (40)Fingeret has not been alone in calling for an in-depth look at the lives andperspectives of illiterate adults. In 1983, Audrey Thomas implied a more in-depth lookwas needed when she argued thatEducation is generally seen as a key to "the good life", and a leveller to inherited52social circumstances. However, a system geared to the norms of the middle class isnot always the most appropriate vehicle for those of the lower classes. Recognition ofthis factor is a stimulus behind the move to "popularize" ABE, that is to root it in thecommunity life of the undereducated. (1983, 9)Rigg and Kasemek (1983) echoed Thomas' statement by commenting that too oftenilliteracy is perceived as an illness. Consequently, treatment is required, typically fromthe teachers seldom recognizing the necessity of obtaining input from the student. Undersuch circumstances, Rigg and Kasemek are not surprised that programs generally fail(26). Carman Hunter and David Harman in the preface to the 1985 revised paperbackedition of their Ford Foundation study agree: "We simply do not know enough abouttheir [the intended learners] perceptions of their world nor do we know how they viewthe value placed on education (including literacy) by the literate who make decisionsabout programs that will be offered for them (Clark 1984)." A still stronger statementcame from Heisel and Larson in 1984 when they wrote that "literacy demands andabilities can only be assessed within a given social context, and we must take the time toexamine the requirements of specific subcultures before embarking on literacy campaignstargeted on inappropriate objectives" (69). In 1986, in a pointed article "My father, myself", Wayne Otto stated the case this way:What we don't need now are more slick statistics and screaming headlines --SERIOUS LITERACY PROBLEMS AFFLICT A THIRD OF THE NATION --followed by instant replays of pat programs that have already failed. What we doneed is to get serious about understanding and acknowledging personal, social, andother contextual differences that limit or proscribe literate behaviour. (478)Perhaps the strongest and best informed statements are the ones made by DavidHarman (1987) in Illiteracy: a National Dilemma; it may not be without significance thatsuch a strong statement comes from someone who eight years before had called for53improved research aimed at understanding the lives and cultures of illiterate adults. Thefollowing excerpts from a short section on "Action and Research" provide a sense of thetone of his suggestions. First, he points out the inadequacy of research:Despite statements regarding the adequacy of current knowledge about literacy andinstruction, the fact remains that the solid research on the subject is virtually nil. (98). . . . There has unfortunately been so little research undertaken into matterspertaining to literacy that most of its secrets await discovery. (99)Second, he explains why it is this way:Since the general attitude towards literacy has for a long time been that the issue is atemporary one, little energy has been expended on improving our understanding of itsintricacies. (98) . . . . So intellectually impoverished is the area of literacy studiesthat it cannot seem to attract the sustained attention of the research community. (98) .. . . Slogans, unsubstantiated assertions, simplistic analyses, and feelings ofrighteousness do not abrogate the need to understand the problem. (99)Finally, he describes the ensuing problem:Hypotheses abound-all unexamined. (98) . . . . As a result, practice navigates its owncourse and, more often than not, flounders. (98)Harman perceives an urgent need for complete, competently conducted literacy research:". . . The quest for literacy, if it is to be successful, must be guided by understanding,research, and experience" (98-99).Required new knowledge about illiteracy and illiterate people.  The great need isfor more research that aims at a better understanding of the lives of illiterate adults. Alist of new and needed knowledge that research can provide if improvements are to bemade in dealing with illiteracy and illiterate people should certainly include the following:a new definition of literacy accommodating individual needs and recognizing bothpersonal strengths and different environments; knowledge of the strengths of illiterate54people in order to re-orient popular perceptions concerning them; knowledge of howilliterate people function in their lives in order to know precisely when literacy isnecessary, and if it is, at what level; knowledge of the actual effects of literacy on lifeachievement; knowledge of the norms and values of successful, functioning illiteratepeople and their relationship to the literate population; and knowledge of how successful,functioning illiterate adults succeed.Developing A Research PlanThe need that exists for more knowledge about illiterate people can best be gainedby research that approaches them directly. The type of research required is explainedhere in addition to an assessment of three related research studies.Choosing a Research DesignQualitative research has been suggested as appropriate and necessary in order tolearn more about adult education and literacy-related issues. Dell Hymes and ClaireWoods-Elliott, in a paper commissioned by the Functional Literacy Project (1980),suggest that "the uses and functions of literacy as a mode of communication, of readingand writing and the use and relationship to the text in specific groups and communities,are best illuminated by naturalistic and ethnographic approaches to research" (21-22).Kidd (1981) suggests that "we should emphasize more qualitative kinds of research" (14)because, as he says, "what is needed is the utilization of research methodologies so thatpeople who will be affected by research outcomes can participate in identifying the55problems" (6). Further support is provided by Hunter and Harman (1979), Green andReder (1984), and Fingeret (1984).For research into people's perceptions, a form of interview or participant observationseems to be most appropriate. Magoon (1977) suggests certain key assumptions underliesuch an approach to research: subjects are considered knowing beings; their knowledgehas important consequences for the interpretation of behaviour; the locus of control overmuch intelligent behaviour rests initially with the subjects and is generally purposive;and, the human species is quite capable of organizing complexity rapidly, of attending tocomplex communications, and of taking on complex social roles (651-52). John K. Smith(1983) says that qualitative research is "concerned with the realm of the knower" (10)and that from the qualitative perspective the purpose of investigation should be on "theattempt to achieve a sense of the meaning that others give to their own situations throughan interpretive understanding of their language, art, gestures and politics" (12). Further,Spradley (1979) says, "the ethnographer seeks to learn from people, to be taught bythem" (4), and that, "the essential core of ethnography is the concern with the meaning ofactions and events to people we seek to understand" (5).Applications to literacy research. By conducting qualitative research based oninterviewing men about their views, valuable insights into their world can be gained.Among the concerns on which light can be shed for literacy practitioners and researchersare the following: the extent to which the perceptions of literacy providers and theirprogram clients correlate, especially in regard to things like the importance of and needfor literacy, the levels of literacy required, and the self-image of prospective clients; the56extent to which illiterate men view themselves as needing literacy skills; the extent towhich illiterate men's views of their world differ from literate society's; the extent towhich the perceptions of illiterate men vary depending on location, age, or environment;how illiterate men manage to cope with the demands of literate society; and how illiteratemen become financially successful. Since people's perceptions are important toresearchers, the results of this research may have important applications.Assessing Related Literacy ResearchOther literacy-based research projects have employed qualitative methods; threeconcerned with the perceptions of illiterate adults are discussed here, studies conductedby Arlene Fingeret (1982a), Allen Manning (1984), and Bertie Wood (1984). Althoughboth Manning and Wood refer to Fingeret, neither appears to be purposefully continuingher line of research in a planned fashion. It would be neither appropriate to assign eachof the above studies equal status in the realm of literacy research, nor to say that any ofthem is a paradigm of qualitative design. Yet significant similarities among these threestudies indicate a trend toward the use of the interview in qualitative literacy research.For clarity, this discussion is organized under the headings of purpose, population, andthe gathering and analysis of data, with applicable information from each study notedwhere appropriate, including comments and criticisms.Purpose. Although stated differently, the three studies had a similar purpose: todiscover how illiterate adults felt about and responded to their world. Fingeret wanted toexamine competence within the literate world. Manning, interested in understanding57more about "prosperous illiterates", sought an understanding of job reading requirements,of how illiterate adults learn job skills, and of the non-cognitive aspects of economicsuccess. Wood sought to learn about concepts common to illiterate adults in order todevelop an implicit learning theory of intelligence.The statements of purpose of the three studies reveal two common elements. First,all three researchers respect the illiterate person's strengths -- no mention of anyweakness occurs since key words like "competence", "prosperous", and "intelligence"stress the dignity and ability of illiterate people. Second, all three focus on theperceptions of the adults themselves, not on statistical proof of the degree of conformityto anyone's preconceptions. Recognition of dignity is the first step in accepting what isalso apparent in these purposes: illiterate people are the best source of knowledge abouttheir own perceptions. These studies differ with earlier research about illiterate adults intheir concentration on discovering the individual's perceptions as opposed to a descriptionof them from the literate perspective.Population. The populations of the three studies were as follows. Fingeretinterviewed forty-three adults, sixteen females and twenty-seven males; Manninginterviewed eleven men making over $20,000 per year; Wood interviewed six males andeleven females. Manning used a test of illiteracy to determine eligibility for inclusioninto the study. Fingeret says she requested referrals of people tested at or below grade-four reading level. Manning found five of his eleven interviewees in literacy programs;Fingeret found half of hers there; and Wood made contact through help agenciesincluding an ABE program, but at the time of his interviewing no interviewee had58attended a literacy program. None of these projects attempted to study illiterate peoplewithin the context of a literacy program; instead, they showed interest in how illiteratepeople function in their own worlds. That some subjects in these studies were in literacyprograms was a function of the method of locating subjects and not a factor in selection.The population sizes of these studies are small and heterogeneous. Fingeret's(forty-three) is the largest and most heterogeneous. The only reliable common element isall members' apparent illiteracy, yet respective levels of illiteracy were not clearlyestablished. Manning's group of eleven appears more homogeneous but is very small.Although larger, Wood's group of seventeen suffers from ambiguities similar to those inFingeret's study. As a consequence, other problems exist: first, uncontrolled, undefinedvariables (like different ages and sexes) may confound issues; second, results based onvery small samples, not randomly selected, preclude safe generalization to a largerpopulation. Statisticians may thus feel justified in dismissing these studies summarily.On the positive side, the research conducted, albeit on small samples, may indicateuseful directions for future research. The results indicate the existence of illiterate peoplewho do not fit the stereotypes of literate-oriented studies. Some illiterate adults may feelneither the need to go back to school nor any sense of inferiority as a result of aninability to read. These studies point to the existence of a population and a body ofknowledge hitherto ignored.Gathering and analysis of data. Fingeret's data were gathered through interviewsand participant observation; she was intensively involved in the networks identified. Noindication is given of structured interviews nor were all interviews private. Concepts and59understanding appear to have arisen from the analysis of data although no analytical planwas discussed. Manning collected data by interview and participant observation as well,but the interview structure appears to have been very loose. He coded his data intosixty-one categories, reviewing them until he made some sense of what they appeared tobe revealing. Wood collected data through interviews, and arranged the data accordingto headings or ideas commonly occurring ".... grounded theory design as developed byGlaser and Strauss" (1984, 163).All three studies used interviews as the major source for data. Only Manningmentioned entering the respective situations with a preset agenda or preconceived notionsreflected in structured interviews; however, he rejected this approach quite early on whenhe found that structured interviews restricted the direction that the conversations mighttake. All three researchers attempted to observe and to learn from the illiterate adult.These similarities are significant because they indicate the researchers' attempts to reach agroup whose views have been generally ignored and to listen seriously to what this grouphas to say. This attempt to collect the ideas of illiterate adults reflects a new direction inliteracy research.Assessing usefulness. In summary, a new body of literacy research is beginning toappear. That two of these early works are based in Syracuse would appear to indicatesupport for qualitative, interview-based research there. This research emphasizes theperceptions of not only illiterate persons but more particularly of illiterate persons who donot readily fit the stereotypical images promulgated by literate society. Unfortunately, norelationship among the studies appears to exist in that neither Manning nor Wood seemed60knowingly to attempt to further Fingeret's seminal work in any particular direction.The body of research represented by these three studies has several flaws from atraditional point of view, and although it may appear unfair to attack non-traditionalresearch using traditional criteria, it may prove useful to point out certain key concerns iffor no other reason than to demonstrate possible barriers to the acceptance of the ideasbeing raised by this new line of research. First, small heterogeneous samples result in nogeneralizable conclusions. Second, very little information is provided concerning thetype of analysis conducted on the data, making the reproduction of any of the studies inorder to expand the population base very difficult. Third, no one employed a comparisongroup to determine the uniqueness of the apparent qualities of the groups under study.Finally, only Manning attempted to identify ahead of time a characteristic of a group ofilliterate adults not conforming to the conventional view of illiterate people nornecessarily related in any way to the issue of illiteracy. His concept of "prosperousilliterates" has the potential for determining systematic differences among groups ofilliterate adults or between illiterate and literate adults. Unfortunately, the issue remainsunclarified.Admittedly, none of these researchers would have defined generalizability as agoal; in seminal research, arguably, generalizability is not of prime importance, and yet itis necessary for research to offer insight into and revision of current practice, apparenttrends, and generalizable findings in order to make literacy providers take notice. Thepractice of literacy education is imbued with traditional methodologies. Many, if notmost, literacy educators are volunteers, either untrained or trained in the old ways; the61process of changing to a program based on the perceptions of illiterate adults will bedifficult, and the more solid research that can be compiled, the more likely the chance ofbringing about changes in practice.If the overall usefulness of these early research studies is accepted, the followingsuggestions for expanding and focusing this new line of research may improve theconsistency and thus the general acceptability of research based on the perceptions ofilliterate people. First, dealing with more homogeneous populations could help toeliminate possibly confusing variables. Second, standardizing data-gathering formatscould allow for the comparison of results across studies. Third, increasing populationsizes may eventually lead to a greater acceptance of the likelihood that findings will beconsistent across a larger population. Fourth, facilitating replication in otherenvironments may demonstrate the broader existence of results reported in these earlystudies. Fifth, attempting to identify comparison groups within studies may immediatelyverify the uniqueness of characteristics discovered through data analysis. Finally,employing qualities not usually assumed of illiterate people as selection criteria may beginto change the suppositions and stereotypes presently biasing research into literacy issues.If these changes can be made over time, a new, reliable body of knowledge will bothreflect illiterate adults' perspectives and withstand the scrutiny of the researchcommunity.SummaryThe following conclusions drawn from this review of the literature form a62conceptual basis for the present study.First, categories of illiterate adults defined by the Appalachian Adult EducationCentre and later revised by Hunter and Harman seem not to recognize groups of illiteratepeople living quite normal lives who are relatively unconcerned about becoming literate.Second, some evidence suggests that such groups of illiterate people exist.Third, a number of assumptions concerning the importance of literacy forfunctioning in society, avoiding social problems, and achieving economic well beingappear questionable. In addition, it appears unlikely that literacy insures superiority inthe areas of thinking, valuing, or learning. Questioning long-standing assumptionsfurther justifies the need for research to learn more about illiterate people and theirperspectives.Fourth, the most common perception of illiteracy and of illiterate people is that theyare thought to lack something, to be deficient in some way crucial to their survival in aliterate society. Rarely are their strengths examined or built on. This thinkingpowerfully influences the development and implementation of policy and practice andmay well contribute significantly to the failure of literacy programs to reach thoseperceived by the literate society as most in need of literacy.Fifth, the negative view of illiterate people is supported by influential groups withinthe literate society: creators of the media, government officials, literacy providers,business personnel, and academics. Their power virtually guarantees the persistence ofthe predominant negative view, so they must be convinced of its shortcomings.Sixth, many services, policies, and programs exist to fight illiteracy, yet little is63ever achieved.Seventh, whereas past definitions of literacy tended to inform research and practicefrom a narrow, literate world-view, interest is growing in a contextual definition ofliteracy emphasizing the illiterate person's perspective to determine literacy needs. Thisapproach to defining literacy implies that more must be known about the client's view;this can only be achieved through talking with illiterate people to discover what isrequired of them in their daily lives.Eighth, new knowledge is required if the nature of illiteracy and the needs ofilliterate people are to be understood.Ninth, qualitative research is suggested as the means most suitable to exploring theworld of the illiterate person because this research tries to explain behaviour byidentifying the ideas and attitudes of those involved. This is the precise need in literacyresearch now.Tenth, three studies have attempted to describe the perceptions of illiterate adultsand appear to be defining a new direction for literacy research. These studies areprimarily exploratory in nature and thus have not provided clearly generalizableconclusions. What is needed is continued development along this line of research intoilliterate people's perceptions with an increasing emphasis on larger, more homogeneouspopulations, consistency in data collection and analysis, replicability, comparability, andthe breakdown of traditional stereotypical images of illiterate people.Eleventh, a group of illiterate people functioning quite successfully in society couldprovide a useful source of information about what it takes besides literacy to be64successful while at the same time contradicting popular belief that illiterate people areincapable of economic success.Finally, a number of prominent literacy experts including Arlene Fingeret, MichaelFox, Carman Hunter, David Harman, Shirley Brice Heath, and Audrey Thomas arecalling for research on illiterate people, especially in regard to ideas, aspirations, values,and perceptions. In this way, literacy programs may be aligned with what illiteratepeople want instead of with what the literate world thinks they want.Taken in total, these conclusions justify a need for further research into the worldof the illiterate adult, and hence the essence of and motivation for this study.CHAPTER 3DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSISStudy methodology is divided into six sections: Purpose, Pilot Testing, DataCollection, Data Analysis, Reporting Results, and Summary Comments. Adjustmentsmade in the planned process during the collection and analysis are described andrationales provided. For the sake of clarity, matters regarding subject selection and theprocess of collecting data have been placed in Appendix F. Readers interested inreplicating this study or in conducting a similar study may find this appended materialuseful.PurposeTo repeat, the primary purpose of this research has been to examine perceptionsheld by illiterate men exhibiting varying degrees of financial success in order to discoverif views commonly held by literate society about them are accurate; how illiterate mencope with literate society; and how some of these men manage to be financiallysuccessful. Thus, the means by which these perceptions were to be gathered, recorded,and evaluated were crucial to the research design. Appropriately, subjects wereinterviewed, their responses recorded on tape, and the results compiled and interpreted.6566Pilot TestingPilot testing was conducted to provide interviewing experience and to assess theinterviewer's abilities in this regard, to assess the usefulness of the type and order ofquestions, to test the methods of recording and transcribing data, and to assess measuresused to diminish threats to reliability and validity. Where appropriate, pilot test resultsare dealt with below.Identifying the PopulationThis process involved determining sample size, locating subjects, selecting criteria,and then contacting subjects.Size and SamplingA random sample of successful illiterate men could not be gathered since the entirepopulation cannot be identified. Sample selection is difficult even with few restrictions,as with studies by Fingeret (1982a) and Manning (1984), who had difficulty identifyingtheir respective subjects and who both resorted to techniques of identification notcompatible with random selection, like referrals and telephoning. Populationidentification for this study was not likely to be easier, so people were included who metthe qualifications for the study regardless of how they were identified.Originally, a goal of this study was to have two distinct groups of illiterate men,one successful financially with an income of at least $30,000 annually and one having anincome of less than $30,000. As it turned out, distinguishing varying degrees of success67among illiterate men was virtually impossible. Some subjects making just under $30,000,for instance, nevertheless had steady jobs and appeared to be meeting their financialresponsibilities. Like distinctions among varying levels of literacy itself, "success" per seis hard to define precisely. Thus, separating interviewees into distinct groups was notpossible. Instead, subjects were placed along a continuum of success based primarily onincome. In this way, the original definition of success was maintained and subjects werenot forced to conform to either group, while the hoped-for goals were still addressed.Despite complications regarding the identification and interviewing of subjects thatconsiderably lengthened the time required to collect the data, the desired population sizeof forty was eventually achieved.Location of SubjectsThe study was centred in a medium-sized urban centre (population 225,000) in theindustrial heart of Ontario. Prospects also came from other areas. The result is thefollowing sample composition: members from the study's urban centre (8), urban centres(65-85,000) within a 30 mile radius (12), urban centres (250,000-2,000,000) in a 60 mileradius (12), an urban centre (100,000) at 900 miles (1), a small urban centre (15,000) at180 miles (1), rural within 60 miles (5), semi-rural at 3,000 miles (1).Selection CriteriaOne set of selection criteria applied to all subjects while a second attempted to68differentiate among men according to income and employment record.The first set of criteria included subjects' sex, age, and reading level. All subjectswere to be male, aged thirty to fifty, and unable to read above the grade-four level. Twocriteria were adhered to; one was not.As mentioned, a male-only sample was adhered to with four advantages: first, iteliminated the variable of sex, allowing for a smaller sample size; second, it avoided theproblem of a scarcity of women who could meet the criteria (given women's traditionalrole outside the workplace); third, it avoided women subjects' possible awkwardness witha male interviewer; fourth, it allowed for uniqueness and originality, since a study usingwomen was nearing completion at the time this process was begun (Horsman 1990).The age restriction was expected to allow for a more homogeneous grouping of menlikely to have been steadily employed since leaving school and able to meet incomerequirements. Capping the top age at fifty allowed for the inclusion of subjects at theirpeak of earning power and family obligations. Financial security was thus based more onearning ability than on outgrowing the financial burdens of rearing a family. However,this expectation turned out to be inaccurate. Two of the wealthier men, in terms ofcontinued earning power, were over sixty. In addition, it became obvious throughinterviews that men over fifty had a wealth of experience to share and their knowledgewould provide a useful balance with younger men.Also important was a way of determining that each person was reading below agrade-four level; reading level was measured by the Brigance Diagnostic Inventory ofEssential Skills. Even though the use of grade level equivalency is not recommended,69the Brigance test was the best, though not ideal, means of assuring that all men were at alow level of literacy. In Canada, an adult who reads below the grade-five level is definedas illiterate (Dickinson 1978, 84). In fact, no subject in this study was able to readbeyond the grade-three level.The second set of criteria was based on common expectations of career-orientedmembers of literate society, good income and steady employment -- values fostered bybasic education programs (Mezirow, Darkenwald, and Knox 1975, 4).Income. Literacy is believed to allow one access to better paying jobs (Coleman1983; Hunter and Harman 1979, 36; Scharles 1970, 136,138). A minimum personalincome requirement of at least $30,000 per year, the median Canadian family income,thus insured that the earning power of financially successful subjects was in the top halfof Canadian society.Employment record. Although literate adults are deemed less likely to beunemployed than illiterate adults (Dickinson 1978, 83; Wellborn 1982, 53), thefinancially successful subjects of this study were nevertheless to have been employed atleast ninety per cent of the time since leaving school. This figure allows for anytransition periods related to job or career changes. The ninety per cent figure was to beadjusted for work disruptions caused by illness or seasonal employment if the $30,000criterion was met.Sixteen of the financially successful men had consistent employment records; of theother four, two were recently retired though one continued to work on his own, one hadbeen retired from working for others since age forty-five but was actively involved in70making an income through real estate and investments, and the fourth had recently beendisabled.The criteria for this study differ from those employed by Fingeret, Manning, orWood, whose chief criterion was the subjects' lack of ability to read and write. Manningdid include an income of $20,000 but, by and large, none of these previous researchersattempted to identify a sub-group of illiterate adults with as much specificity as in thepresent study.Finding SubjectsFor obvious reasons, groups of non-readers cannot be approached by conventionalmeans, such as by running an ad in a newspaper. Methods used by researchers likeFingeret, Manning, and Wood included seeking referrals from literacy programs, socialagencies, and neighbourhood groups and employing a blanket telephone campaign with asegment of the population likely to include illiterate people. Radio and televisionappearances were also considered.After deliberation, the following methods for seeking subjects were employed.(The number of subjects identified through each method is included in parentheses.)Four radio interviews were aired, two on local stations (2) and two on the nationalnetwork of the CBC (2), and one television interview was conducted on a local talkshow. Nineteen literacy programs were contacted including two Laubach Literacy groups(2), four public school boards (15), two Roman Catholic school boards (2), onecommunity college (4), one university/Laubach combination, and nine funded directly71from government ministries (8). Four of these latter contacts were the result of oneliteracy provider's hearing a national radio interview. The Canadian Federation ofIndependent Business was approached with no results. Several conferences were attendedbut no useful contacts were made. Finally, five contacts were arranged as a result ofconversations with both casual and professional acquaintances.Although literacy programs proved most useful in identifying subjects, radiointerviews and discussions with acquaintances provided almost a quarter of all contacts,none of whom were attending literacy programs at the time of the initial contact.Collecting DataFor the research proposed, interviews were deemed the best data-collectiontechnique partly because illiterate subjects would be unable to fill out questionnaires andpartly because an interview, with sufficiently open-ended questions, allows respondents tocommunicate perceptions without restricting them to narrowly focused questions andsimple responses.The interview technique chosen was a modified version of the unstructuredinterview described by Guba and Lincoln (1981, 153-57) and by Burgess (1982,107-109). Part of each interview followed a structured format to gather basic personalinformation regarding the subject's eligibility for inclusion in the study.The remainder of the interview process followed a less structured format. Inadvance, a menu of desired information was established and, as it was provided by therespondent, it was checked off against a standard list. This process allowed for the order72and formation of actual questions to be adapted to individual differences. In addition,information arising out of the interview but not anticipated in the check-list was preservedby tape-recording each interview. This information was then evaluated and, if itappeared to have merit as a part of a collection of perceptions, was added to theinformation menu and used during future interviews. Follow-up interviews took note ofthese additional data.Standardized questions elicit various responses from an assumed heterogeneouspopulation without having to be pilot tested on a similar but not identical small samplegroup. The use of a partially structured format also increased the reliability of animportant part of the process -- establishing subjects' eligibility for inclusion in thesample. By insuring that each respondent was asked the same qualifying questions, thecomparability of subjects was strengthened. Yet, even though the same basic informationwas required, individuals could have different perceptions of questions and preferencesfor the ordering of questions (benzin 1970, 122-143). By allowing the interviewer tomodify questions and sequences according to the differing requirements of eachinterview, while simultaneously tracking a check-list of desired perceptions, validity andcomparability of information were maximized.Another problem addressed was researcher objectivity (LeCompte and Goetz 1982,47). Since it was not a purpose of this study to gather respondents' views of theresearcher's perspectives, an adjustable format allowed respondents to express themselvesfreely (Spradley 1979, 55-68). Tapes of the pilot-test interviews were checked for biasand adjustments made. The results of this review process are presented later in this73chapter.Finally, the somewhat flexible interview format heightened the perceived value ofthe responses (Spradley 1979, 55-68). Highly standardized and scheduled interviewsmight give the respondent the impression that he was just another statistic or that theinterviewer had a great deal of information to gather and merely wanted to get theprocess over with. An adjustable schedule, on the other hand, reduced this dangerconsiderably. The approach posed potential threats to reliability and validity so far as theorder in which the questions were asked could influence responses. Nevertheless, thefinal decision was made to make the interviewee feel that his input was valued. Thisinterview process was expected to increase the range of information available, tomaximize opportunities of recording individual perceptions, and to assure the compilationof a common core of knowledge.Also considered was the dilemma of establishing rapport with the respondent whilemaintaining objective distance (Cicourel 1964, 85-87; Denzin 1970, 122-143; Goetz andLeCompte 1984, 97-98; Spradley 1979, 55-68). The respondent had to feel comfortablewith the interviewer because rapport tends to increase the validity of responses.Respondents at ease with the process are less likely to provide misinformation or holdback vital facts. On the other hand, 'over identification' of interviewer and respondentcould influence responses and diminish objectivity when evaluating them (Cicourel 1964,84). A balance had to be maintained. Pilot testing also obviously affected interviewdesign, including ways of addressing unwilling respondents and sensitive issues.74Developing QuestionsAs mentioned, the first and highly standardized of two interview phases determinedthe eligibility of individuals for inclusion in the study. Information sought included age,sex, educational achievement, employment record, residence record, marriage and familystatistics, home ownership, social relationships, financial status, and professed desire tobecome literate. At the end of the initial session, a brief diagnostic test of reading ability(the Brigance test) was administered with the interviewee's consent. The comparabilityof information collected at this stage was important; if a prospective respondent wereunwilling to provide all of the personal information, yet otherwise seemed to fit thecriteria, interviewing might proceed with a later attempt to obtain the missing details.The second phase of the interviewing process gathered respondents' perceptionsregarding the importance of literacy to personal success. Broad questions asked at thisstage included these: What constitutes success? How does one go about achieving suchsuccess? Of what importance is formal education or the ability to read and write in theachievement of that success? What special skills or attributes are required for success?After pilot testing, these broad questions were abandoned in favour of categories ofanticipated difference, described later in the chapter.During preparation of the interview schedule, general questions were broken downinto components. Interviews would be checked for completeness in relation to thefollowing sub-questions: How do you define being successful? Do you have or use analternative to reading or writing? How do you identify success in others or yourself?How do you believe that people become successful -- what experiences, skills, or75attributes are required? What do you feel a need for in your life? Do you feel you aremissing anything? If you could make changes in your life, what would they be? Whatare your personal life goals? How do you define learning? How do you believe youlearn? What do you believe is the role of formal schooling in the achievement ofsuccess? What role do you believe that literacy has in the achievement of success? Howhave you managed to be successful in relation to commonly accepted standards? and,What special skills or attributes do you believe you have?Pilot testing indicated weaknesses. For one, the second interview seemed to lackstructure. The interviews seemed to uncover perceptions, but responses were so scatteredas to make categorization and analysis very difficult. As a result, categories based onanticipated factors of success were established and groups of questions planned for eachcategory. (See "Determining Focus" below and Appendix A.) Other problems includedthe following.Vague questions. Some questions on both the standardized and non-standardizedinterviews proved to be too vague. Respondents generally cited too broad an experiencebase and made it difficult for the interviewer to focus on an answer. Examples ofrevisions that sharpened the frame of reference implied by certain questions are thefollowing: "Are there any people or things from that time [youth] that stick out in yourmind?" was changed to "Who were your best friends from your early school days?" and"Who helped you the most when you were growing up?" "What were the most importantthings you learned during your youth?" was changed to "Did you learn anything whenyou were young that helped you in later years?" (For other examples, compare the two76interview protocols in Appendix A.)Value questions. Some questions might have appeared to the interviewee to beg aspecific response, for example, "Do you have any things that you try to achieve or thingsthat you look forward to, sort of goals for yourself?" If the interviewee sensed theimportance most people place on goals, he might be inclined to answer affirmativelywhether he cared about goals or not. Questions such as these were dropped from thesecond interview.Digression. Interviewees often wanted to digress during the scheduled, structuredinterviews or expand beyond the scope of the questions used in the first interview. Thisneed appeared to arise out of a desire to talk about their feelings rather than respond tothe questions asked. The wish to capitalize on this desire to open up was countered bythe need to determine a subject's eligibility. The solution was to ensure that intervieweeswere aware of the purpose of the first interview, noting that ample time would be givenin the second interview for the sharing of their views. Some firm direction was thusrequired during the first interview.Anticipation. Some formal questions seemed to anticipate certain answers,tempting the interviewer to help the respondent reply in a certain way, thus skewing theresults. A little of the interviewer's lack of experience showed here, but a tendency tocoach the interviewee was amended after listening to tapes and reading transcripts of thefirst three interviews. In addition, questions for the unscheduled interviews werereformulated in order to make the interviewer less inclined to lead the respondents withtheir answers.77Longer questions. Some questions were longer than others, perhaps suggesting thatthey were more important. The longer questions may have resulted from a desire toleave the second interview open-ended, as well as from a perceived need to adjustquestions for different interviewees. The problem was alleviated when the secondinterview was rewritten to permit different questions for different interviewees.Determining focus. The focus of some of the questions in the unstructuredinterviews was unclear to the members of the dissertation committee. This problemappears to have resulted from spontaneous questions, some of them awkwardly posed.The solution involved the formulation of a list of probable factors of success in regard toskills, abilities, or attitudes. These factors arose partly from four test interviews, partlyfrom common perceptions about the way illiterate people are supposed to act, and partlyfrom reflecting on what might lead to success. The nine factors of success ended upincluding confidence, responsibility, pride, observation skills, alternatives to reading, oralskills, memory, sociability, and generalizing skills. Confidence and responsibility seemedlogical attributes of successful people, while pride was taken as a sign of motivation.Observation, the tendency to notice detail and opportunity, seemed an important skill aswell. An ability to compensate in various ways for the inability to read and writeappeared likely to contribute to successful coping in literate society. Oral skills were alsoexpected to be a consistent means of compensating for low literacy among subjectsincluded in the study, as well as a means of getting along with others. Memory, anassumed attribute of illiterate people, provided both an additional measure of differenceamong interviewees and a check on common beliefs. Sociability was included to test the78Hunter and Harman observations concerning reputed difficulties in this area, as well as toprovide yet another way of differentiating among subjects. Finally, the fairly advancedintellectual or perceptive skill of generalizing allowed a measure of the subjects' ability todecode literate society, thus determining in some measure their level of success. Thiswhole process of defining expected factors of success helped to focus the secondinterview protocol.A set of questions for each factor was then created ahead of time in order to clarifythe focus and purpose of each question. This pre-ordering was not meant to prohibit thecreation of new questions, but rather to limit the formulation of spontaneous questions tothose moments in the interview when the respondent actually required amplification orclarification.Abstractions. During pilot testing, interviewees had trouble understanding abstractconcepts. Among the terms lacking clarity for many respondents was the word"success". To reduce confusion, the use of the word was postponed until later in thesecond interview. When it was used, it reflected a consistency of use such that mostinterviewees could determine its meaning. Other words that caused some difficulty, like"goals" and "education", were omitted.One final adjustment to the second interview protocol occurred during the very firstinterview in the data-collection phase. Two questions were added under the heading of"generalizing" at the end of the second interview protocol. They were "What does it taketo be successful in life?" and "How do you know when you are successful?" In theprocess of the interview, it became apparent that raising the issue of success late in the79interview was both appropriate and informative. As a result, these two questions wereincorporated into all interviews.Conducting InterviewsInterviews were conducted in two parts to limit the time spent at any one sitting.The first interview, including the reading test at the end, lasted forty to sixty minutes. Ifafter the first interview the interviewee was deemed an appropriate subject, a subsequentinterview was arranged. Or, both sets of questions were covered at one sitting if theinterviewee preferred. (This occurred twelve times in all -- see Appendix F.) In mostcases interviews were completed in two sessions. (Again, variations are explained inAppendix F.)Further information was sought near the end of the analysis phase, an exercise thatinvolved two further phone calls to the thirty-two subjects that could be reached.Appendix F provides an analysis of the conditions for all interviews.Recording DataAll but two interviews were taped. Excluded was a man who refused even to usehis own name; the second exclusion was a phone interview: these interviews weretranscribed by hand.Reliability and Validity"Validity, with its concern for what is being measured, and reliability, which points80to the stability of observations over time, are directly relevant to the interview" (Denzin1970, 132). Goetz and Lecompte observed that ethnographers ignore this advice toofrequently, claiming that their research is essentially descriptive and generative and neednot comply with standard rules of validity and reliability (Goetz and LeCompte 1984,208-209). This argument is unsound, "because ignoring threats to credibility weakensresearch, whatever its goals may be" (Goetz and LeCompte 1984, 209). While planningthis research, an attempt was made to incorporate the recommendations of a number ofwriters so that the study would more closely conform to accepted standards of researchdesign.ReliabilityThreats to reliability as defined by Goetz and LeCompte (1984, 211-220), togetherwith the means of addressing them, are described here.Role and Status of the ResearcherDuring an interview or set of interviews the relationship of interviewer andinterviewee was kept cordial yet professional. Cicourel (1964, 88-93) and Denzin (1970,124-143) discuss problems that arise when the roles and relationships between theinterviewee and the interviewer are changed during the data-collection process. If theinterviewer becomes too friendly, he may adversely affect both the reliability and thevalidity of his data. On the other hand, an overly cool demeanour can lead to therespondent's unwillingness to share his true perceptions. Trust was essential. To gain it81consistently, and to insure that respondents' true perceptions were shared, certainpractices were employed. First, with the exception of five interviewees, initial contactwas made and preliminary acceptance gained through an intermediary, a trusted person.Most frequently it was a literacy instructor; however, a daughter and a mother-in-lawalso acted as intermediaries. Of the five exceptions, three came directly to the researcherthrough a radio interview and the other two were referred and contacted directly. Eachinterviewee also chose a time and a place suitable to him. In addition, no pressure wasever applied for compliance, while the purpose of the interviewing process was alwaysstated clearly before the first interview. Interviewees were also granted the privilege ofdropping out at any time, and were allowed to skip overly personal or embarrassingquestions; however, no question was ever refused. The value of the knowledge beingoffered to the interviewer was always stressed, and an atmosphere of mutual respect wasalways cultivated. Because most interviews were firmly directed by the interviewer, mostfollowed a similar pattern of questioning, thereby stabilizing the interviewer-intervieweerelationship over the course of the data-gathering process.Choice of RespondentsFor purposes of replication, a future researcher must be able to select informantssimilar to those obtained for this study (Goetz and LeCompte 1984, 216). In order tostandardize selection and to facilitate replication, the criteria for eligibility were clearlyestablished and consistently adhered to, and a profile of all respondents was kept on tapeand in chart form.82Social Situations and Conditions of InterviewsThe circumstances of an interview may affect the type of information revealed;therefore, "delineation of the physical, social, and interpersonal contexts within whichdata are gathered enhances the replicability of ethnographic studies" (Goetz andLeCompte 1984, 215). During the interview process, thus, an attempt was made tomaintain a common type of social setting. The considerable travel involved meant thatthe interview environment could not always be controlled or pre-determined. Thesubject's selection of a comfortable place and convenient time took precedence.ConceptualizationThe concepts used to develop the research method must be clearly defined to makefuture researchers fully aware of the assumptions, values, and goals guiding the initialresearch (Goetz and LeCompte 1984, 216). In this study, attempts have been made toestablish working definitions and to describe fully the nature of the analytical processleading to the original proposal.Methods of Data Collection and Analysis"Replicability is impossible without precise identification and thorough descriptionof strategies used to collect data" (Goetz and LeCompte 1984, 217). In this study, tapesprovide a thorough record of interviews. The interview protocol followed is presented inAppendix A, and the conditions of interviews are described in Appendix F."More serious than specification of data collection techniques for both external and83internal reliability is the identification of general strategies for analyzing ethnographicdata" (Goetz and LeCompte 1984, 217). The data analysis employed in this study isdescribed here, while the method of categorizing and tabulating interview responses ismade evident through the reporting process covered in the following three chapters.Peer ExaminationPeer examination can be used to check the dependability of the researcher's data-collecting process and to insure the reliability of his descriptions of it. In this study, pilottest results were evaluated by the dissertation committee. The interview process wasrationalized for each new contact by consulting, where appropriate, literacy instructorsand coordinators, education administrators and professors, other interested parties, mediarepresentatives, and the prospective interviewees. Follow-up conversations concerningthe work and its discoveries fulfilled a promise to contacts to keep them informed of boththe progress of the study and its final results. Finally, an objective reviewer verified thetranscription of data from the interview tapes by listening to two interviews and recordingdata on charts. These charts were then compared to the researcher's and revealed littlevariation.Mechanical Recording of DataThe mechanical recording of data strengthens reliability and the possibility ofreplication (Goetz and LeCompte 1984, 220). Only two interviews were not taped: thefirst as a result of the interviewee's fear of exposure; the second because the interview84was conducted by phone and could not be recorded.ValidityEfforts to minimize threats to validity were also undertaken.Changing Roles and RelationshipsThe interview is a special interaction and is governed by rules or traditions aboutsharing information with strangers as determined by etiquette or culture. The intervieweris then faced with deciding either to maintain a fixed, formal relationship and not riskbreaking any rules, thereby enhancing validity by assuring cooperation, or to allow amore friendly, informal relationship to develop and perhaps increase the range and depthof data volunteered.The decision to allow the more friendly, non-formal relationship to developproduced an atmosphere in which as much intimate information as possible could begathered. The following measures were taken to insure the validity of the approach:pilot testing was employed to develop interviewing skills; interviews were taped to permitcomparisons of the interview process; and a consistent interviewee/interviewerrelationship was maintained throughout the initial interview for all subjects.Representativeness of the SampleExtrapolating results to a larger population has never been an issue in planning thisstudy. There is virtually no way of identifying enough people within the general85population of illiterate men to be able to employ statistical or random sampling.Consequently, the forty men interviewed could not be described as a sample. They were,however, systematically selected for this study.The selection process used is best described as criterion-based (Goetz andLeCompte 1984, 73); specific attributes were defined (see Selection Criteria, this chapter)and attempts were made to locate men who met the criteria.During selection, anyone who appeared to be a potential interviewee was contacted;not all those contacted completed the interviews. Four others not meeting the criteria hadbeen notified by a contact person and were interviewed so they would not feel rejected.This group included two women and existed because contact people had misunderstoodthe selection criteria. These interviews have not been included in the study data.The final sample group may have been biased by the selection process. Forinstance, only willing people were interviewed; no one was coerced. Consequently, thoseselected may constitute an unrepresentative sample of illiterate men, or they may berepresentative of a specific sub-set of illiterate men who are outgoing and unencumberedby the supposed stigma of illiteracy. On the other hand, all men were identified in thesame way. All were selected according to how well they met the criteria establishedprior to selection. All prospective interviewees were asked to participate because theirknowledge and abilities as illiterate adults functioning in a literate world could help othersnot functioning as well as they were. This rationale for involvement partially explainswhy the four prospects previously mentioned were interviewed even though they did notmeet the criteria. If the population is biased, all members are biased in the same way.86It might also be argued that contacting potential interviewees through the mediacould have biased the sample in favour of more outgoing types. This is unlikely to havebeen a factor since only three of the forty men made direct contact with the researcherafter a radio broadcast. The other four contacts attributed to radio broadcasts wereestablished through a third person who heard the interview. Of the three direct contacts,no one had made anyone outside of his family aware of his illiteracy. These men did notappear to be publicity seekers. In summary then, although the men interviewed do notconstitute a representative sample of all illiterate men, they were carefully selectedaccording to a consistent set of criteria.Time for InterviewsOnly rambling or repetitive responses were cut short. Otherwise the time taken perinterview involved only that necessary for specific answers to all questions in part one,and comfortable, unforced responses to all issues raised in part two. Forty suchinterviews then constitute the essential data-gathering time of this study.Dissembling and Role PlayingAt times, interviewees may respond as they suspect the interviewer wants them to.To counteract these types of responses, Spradley (1979, 55-69) stresses the importance ofboth the respondent's understanding of the nature and value of the research and theclarity of the relationship between respondent and interviewer. Ideally, the respondentclarifies his own perception of things for the interview rather than saying what he thinks87the interviewer wants to hear.Steps were taken to counter the possibility of dissembling or role-playing. Theunscheduled format was used in the second interview so that the interviewee would notfeel that he was responding to a set of mechanically constructed questions formulated bya disinterested interviewer. The interviewer followed up on subjects' thoughts in parttwo, as long as the various categories of questions were addressed. Asking questions thatappeared to beg certain specific or "correct" answers was avoided. Interviewees wereallowed to choose the direction their answers might take. Questions put the onus on theinterviewee to decide what to share and what to withhold. Finally, any doubts about thereliability of the information were checked with the contact people; similar questionswere asked to determine the consistency of the interviewee's story.Erroneous or Misleading DataBy making contact with prospective subjects through trusted referrals, and byassuring subjects of their anonymity in participating in the study, the likelihood ofincluding poseurs or publicity seekers in the research sample was considerablydiminished. A further control on possible erroneous information after candidates hadbeen accepted was provided by the use of triangulation and probing follow-up questions.Manipulation of InterviewsAfter problems arose in pilot testing regarding the interviewer's tendency to lead orhelp respondents with their answers, the rewritten interview schedules were more strictly88adhered to. Responses were patiently awaited. The first six interviews following pilottesting were reviewed and the data charted. No serious problems with leading oranswering for interviewees appeared.Researcher Bias -- Question DevelopmentAll interview questions were reviewed by the dissertation committee. Any newquestions addressed a need to clarify or expand.Order of QuestionsThe question schedule for interview one was systematically followed. In mostcases, the second interview followed the concepts in the order provided in the protocol.Effects of Setting or Interview EnvironmentTo make the interview as natural and comfortable as possible, attempts were madeto allow the interviewee to choose the setting. The tape-recording device was a black,noiseless micro-recorder the size of a cigarette box. Anonymity was guaranteed. Theinterview was treated as an opportunity to share privately some ideas which could behelpful to others.Validity of ConstructsThe validity of the constructs, that is, the extent to which abstract terms,generalizations, or meanings are shared across times, settings, and populations was89checked in the following ways. First, pilot testing was employed to identify and then toremove difficult words and concepts. Second, responses were tape-recorded and thenplaced on charts: different responses to concept-based questions were dealt with at thesame time and it was possible to determine if interviewees appeared to be responding tothe same idea. In addition, charts plotting responses to certain questions andinterpretations of specific concepts with related constructs were kept.Counteracting the threats to reliability and validity is no less crucial to the kind ofresearch proposed for this study than to more formalized experimental designs.Consequently, every effort was made to minimize potential threats.Data AnalysisData analysis began with the first interview, though formal analysis did not beginuntil all the interviews were completed. The first steps in the analysis occurred when, asa specific interview was proceeding, annotations were made of the subject's responses.Later, these annotations proved to be valuable in facilitating the formal analysis.The major analysis was performed in two steps. First, two master charts werecreated to record data from each set of interviews. One computerized chart contained thebiographical data collected from the first interview arranged under the followingheadings: age, siblings, education level, reading level, number of career jobs, type ofwork presently engaged in, yearly income, investment status, social roles, marital status,number of children, children's education, children's jobs (Appendix B). Additional areaswere added after two later follow-up phone interviews. These consisted of data on90wives' education, parents' education, reading abilities and jobs, and attitudes concerningliteracy programs. It seemed of interest to know about parents and wives since much iswritten about the support that wives give to their illiterate husbands and about such thingsas the cycle of deprivation and poverty. Since most of the men in the study had attendeda literacy program at one time and yet were all still statistically illiterate (Dickinson1978), it appeared worthwhile to explore more about how they perceived these programs.The second set of charts (one set per person), on large sheets of paper, includedspaces for all the question groups from the second interview and for information thatcould be extracted from the interviews even though not in response to specific questions.Examples of this latter group are cognitive strengths, communicative skills, organizingskills, role of the family, goals, neighbourhood, self-concept, values, and valued things.Such data represent aspects of character and perspective that can show up in an analysisof answers. Cognitive strengths were gauged by noting how a person answered or howwell he grasped meanings. For example, one man noted that a particular question couldbe answered differently depending on how the question was interpreted. Communicativeskills applied throughout, while goals, values, valued things, self-concept, and the role ofthe family could be mentioned at any time during the interviews as part of responses toquestions having to do with pride, confidence, sociability, or responsibility. Finally,neighbourhood was added as a category of data because, late in the interview process, itwas recognized that a wide range of environments existed.The categories created from the interview questions are these: confidence,memory, observation skills, pride, satisfaction in the quality of his work, others' opinions91of him, reading alternatives, writing alternatives, being late, missing work,responsibilities, source of responsibility, greatest responsibility, social successes, personalsuccesses, sociability, social roles, friends, trust, education, things affecting life, literacyproblems, dealing with print, the value of being literate, keeping promises, skills worthimproving, strategies for hiding illiteracy, defining success, and achieving success.An additional category relates to the causes of unemployment. This questionappeared at the end of the first interview protocol. It was used to capture a sense of theinterviewee's willingness and ability to state an opinion and to get a sense of how thesecond interview might progress. For example, a subject feeling comfortable with theprocess might need less structured and probing questions than a shy and self-consciousperson. The question produced answers from all of the interviewees and these responseswere analyzed since they appeared to reflect fairly strong feelings.After these charts were created, a specific part of each interview was reviewed andappropriate data entered. As well, all the interviewees' responses to a particular questionwere reviewed so that analysis could begin. Then, all interviews were carefully replayed.The second stage of analysis involved the development of a comprehensible way ofpresenting data. This task was relatively straightforward with biographical data thatcould be added and averaged.The qualitative data posed a different problem, however. The various perceptions,already gathered under categories based on the interview questions, were recorded on thehandwritten charts. Separate charts, however, make analysis of the data difficult. Theinformation from each personal chart was thus transferred to a single chart for each group92or sub-group of responses. Each new chart had forty responses for a question. Forexample, there was one chart for where responsibility was learned, another for sources ofpride. Analyzing groups of answers in search of patterns could therefore begin.Recognized patterns became categories within the groups of responses. The categoriesfor where responsibility was learned, for instance, are experiences, internally, otherpeople, and don't know; and for sources of pride: others, self, and don't know. Thisprocess was completed for each group of perceptions with answers from all thoseinterviewed. When the analysis was completed, the charts reflected qualitative data onthe types of perceptions these illiterate people had and quantitative data on distributionamong the interviewees.Reporting the ResultsIncluded in the reporting of this study are the origins of the concepts that gave riseto it, the definition of terms governing the selection of subjects, the focus for datacollection, a complete description of participants and settings, a complete outline of theinterview process plus sample responses from several interviews, a description of theanalytical process with sample analyses, a description of the results of analysis includingcategories of perceptions and distribution over categories, and finally, suggestionsconcerning the relevance of the results regarding common perceptions of literacy and thework of program providers.The following chapters deal with reporting the results of this study: Chapter 4compares the interviewees with commonly held views about illiterate people; Chapter 593explains how these illiterate men cope with the demands of living in a literate society;Chapter 6 explains how some men function quite successfully in this society; Chapter 7provides a synthesized profile of a successful illiterate man and shows how this profilecompares to both the common deficiency view of illiterate adults and the stream ofresearch begun by Fingeret (1982a); and Chapter 8 suggests the implications of theseresults.CHAPTER 4COMPARING ILLITERATE MENWITH COMMON VIEWS OF THEIR DEFICIENCYAs mentioned, the common view of illiteracy is and has been that illiterate peoplelack important abilities, a deficiency that precludes their taking full part in society. Theresults of this study bring the validity of this view into question, and with it the wholerange of responses to illiterate people that are built on this notion of assumed deficiency.This chapter examines two conclusions concerning the usual negative view drawnfrom the Review of the Literature. The first conclusion is that the categories of illiterateadults presented by Hunter and Harman (1979) are incomplete as a description of thebroad spectrum of such adults because these categories do not recognize illiterate peoplewho may feel little reason to rectify their inability to read. The second is that severalassumptions about illiteracy appear to be incorrect. If this is so, then the beliefs aboutthe solution to the problem being bound up with certain kinds of prescribed literacytraining must also be incorrect. What follows is a discussion of these two conclusions inlight of the findings of this study. Wherever appropriate or useful, reference to specificresponses is used to illuminate major points. The quotes presented reveal types ofanswers, and demonstrate how the subjects in this study expressed their thoughts. Ineach case the person quoted is identified by a number. The numbers indicate the9495chronological order of first interviews and coincide with the biographical informationprovided in Appendix B.Categories of Illiterate AdultsAlthough the categories of illiterate adults outlined by Hunter and Harman appear tosubsume all the possible sub-groups within the illiterate population, they do not.Underlying the categorization is the assumption that illiterate people see their illiteracy asa serious problem they would like to solve. On the contrary, this study's results showthat some people have little concern for the effect of illiteracy in their lives, or for theneed to become literate; some question its usefulness:What could I do with reading that I can't do now? (Subject 6)When those other people go on the TV show, they have documents and everything,and when I go on, all I got is my brains. (Subject 27)I find that periodically I have to defend myself [against insults about lack ofeducation] and basically I just say, 'I got here.' (Subject 25)Some question its long-term effects:All my friends I grew up with knew I couldn't read and write. Only one has mademore money. (Subject 27)If you got to do something, you put it on paper. Right off the bat, I can tell you butyou have to look at the paper. (Subject 29)Some question whether a person is better off:I never said, "because you've got an education, you're better than I am." (Subject 7)I may not have all the readin' but I'm still gonna stand up and be counted and I'mgonna be somebody." (Subject 15)Half of my friends are normal and half are well educated and famous. (Subject 27)96Educated people fail because they're afraid to make a mistake. (Subject 7)I know it's very nice to have an education. I've always wanted it, but I just wonderif I had it, would I be as happy. Maybe I'd demand or want more, I don't know.(Subject 16)Subject 22 is philosophical in his analysis, saying if it isn't one thing, it's another, thateveryone faces some problem:Most people have a problem one way or another and if they don't have that kind ofproblem [writing], they've got another kind of problem when the nitty-gritty getsdown to the fine points. (Subject 22)All but one interviewee has taken part in a literacy program at some time. Initially,this evidence appears to support the belief that illiterate people see illiteracy as a problemthey must do something about, assuming these men have taken courses in order to learnto how read and write. Considered along with other data concerning participation,however, a different interpretation suggests itself.Although at the time of the first interview thirty-nine of the men had attempted aliteracy course at some time, not all had stayed, nor had anyone actually learned to readabove the grade three level. Willingness to stay with courses, measured by activeparticipation at the time of the first interview, is seventy per cent for the entire group.For men on the upper half of the financial continuum, this rate is only forty-five per centwhile on the lower half, it is ninety-four per cent. The rate for the men on the lower halfis skewed by the fact that only one of them was identified by means other than through aliteracy program, whereas eight of the more successful men were identified outside ofliteracy programs.97A second set of data from call backs may be more reliable for measuringwillingness to stay in courses. Tables C-22 and C-23 show that of those who had beenregistered in literacy programs at the time of the first interview, fifty per cent of theupper half of the group and twenty-eight per cent of the lower half had stayed through theone to three years between interviews. When compared to the numbers of those whohave ever been in a literacy course, staying rates are twenty-five per cent over all. Thisnumber is considerably below the fifty per cent completion rate mentioned by Washingtonin 1983. In fact, only one of the men in the study had ever completed a literacy programand when his reading level was measured for inclusion in this study, it was at grade one.These data suggest that perhaps these illiterate men are not as committed tobecoming literate as might be expected of those who are troubled by their inability toread. Indeed, this interpretation is supported by the disinclination, especially among themore financially successful, to take more courses. Forty-four per cent say "no" whenasked if they would sign up again, and only about twenty per cent are clearly interestedin taking more courses in the future (Table C-24).Also contradicting common belief is the fact that few subjects in this study registereither embarrassment or outside pressure as reasons for participating in literacy courses.Instead, the most common reasons given for participating are related to personal growthrather than to practical necessity. For example, Subject 1 admits wanting to "read a goodnovel", while Subject 26 confesses that "there's got to be a lot of good books out there Iwant to read before I die." Subjects appear not to place much importance on learninghow to read and write as a ticket to a better job or a higher income. Perhaps this is98because very little economic or intellectual benefit has been realized by any of theparticipants as a result of having taken the courses.Finally, Table D-56 shows that these men mention one hundred and sixty-sevenways of achieving success. Although reading and writing are mentioned ten times, noone ever names literacy as the first prerequisite for success.These responses, in short, do not substantiate the usual assumed motives ofincreased income, personal embarrassment, or the value of literacy among illiteratepeople. Based on the evidence of this study, therefore, it appears inappropriate to saythat most illiterate adults have a concern for doing something about their illiteracy.Groups outside of the Hunter and Harman categories (or sub-groups within thecategories) ought therefore to be recognized. Such recognition would accommodate thosepeople for whom illiteracy is not a major concern. Such a sub-group may exist withinthe Hunter and Harman Group 1, the group that most closely resembles literate society,and perhaps recognition ought to be extended through all the groups since some lessfinancially successful illiterate men also do not seem especially concerned about theirsupposed deficiency.If the individuals who do not fall neatly within the categories are recognized, awhole new perspective opens up; a new source of information about illiterate people andtheir needs becomes available. These people may always have existed but failure torecognize them has made it impossible to learn from them.99Assumptions About IlliteracyFour basic assumptions inform the traditional view. They are that illiteracy causessocial problems like crime, unemployment, and poverty; that literacy is a necessary factorin an individual's economic development; that literacy is a prerequisite for politicalinvolvement; and that literacy makes a person superior to someone who is illiterate.Each is discussed here in light of the results of this study.Illiteracy Causes Crime, Unemployment, and PovertyAs cited in earlier examples, members of the press often refer to the relationship,reputedly causal though based on correlational studies, between illiteracy and socialproblems. In this they are echoing the prevailing view among governments, laymen andexperts alike that illiteracy causes social problems. Some commentators however, hint atthe opposite view -- that social conditions cause illiteracy.This assumed causal relationship is not supported by the findings of this study.None of the forty men interviewed is poor by common measure, and half of the lesssuccessful financially live quite well. Some are married to women who work outside thehome, others own property, and some have reasonably good jobs that keep them abovethe subsistence level, at least marginally. In addition, none of the men interviewed has acriminal record. For Subject 24, this is a point of some pride: "I classify myself as agood citizen; always respect the law and don't go against it." Eleven of the lessfinancially successful men are unemployed, but five are so due to injury and have beenplaced in re-education programs. In each case, according to their own reports,100unemployment has not been a major problem for them prior to their injuries. In manyways, these men could not be distinguished from members of the larger literate society, asociety with its own share of the poor, the unemployed, and the criminally inclined. Infact, the existence of several subjects making more than the national average income aswell as several who were making two to three times as much as that average suggests thatwithin the illiterate sub-group an income distribution profile may exist similar to what isexpected of the literate society as a whole.Closely related to the causal relationship between illiteracy and social problems arethe concepts of the "cycle of transmitted deprivation" and "culture of poverty".According to these ideas, illiterate people are more likely to have come from illiteratefamily environments and are more likely to raise illiterate and hence poor children.These interpretations are not supported by the findings of this study.Of the fifty adult children of the men in this study, seventy per cent have completedat least high school and ninety four per cent are working full time either at home or inthe workplace. Furthermore, twenty-five per cent are professionally trained. Certainlythe children of these illiterate men are showing few signs of "transmitted deprivation".Call backs near the end of the analysis of data reveal interesting information aboutthe parents of the men in this study. According to what men can remember, fewer thantwenty-five per cent of their parents had less than a grade eight education. No onereports having siblings who are illiterate and only one person reports an illiterate parent.In terms of employment, only one person reports an unemployed father and fifty per cent101of the mothers worked outside the home. Again, little support exists for either a "cultureof poverty" or "transmitted deprivation".Literacy Is a Necessary Factor in an Individual's Economic DevelopmentIt is commonly thought that, without literacy, a person will find it almostimpossible to do anything but the meanest and most unskilled of jobs. In addition,millions of dollars per year are claimed to be lost by industries employing those whocannot read or write well enough to decipher instructions. Employers will also state thatemployees must have a grade twelve education to function in their jobs and to meet theliteracy requirements inherent in those jobs. In other words, the likelihood of aprogressively higher earned income is arrested by illiteracy. Again, this study's findingsdo not support this view. In the first place, virtually all of the men have been involvedin jobs that are normally assumed to require literacy. These jobs, listed in Table C-8,include chef, businessman, auto mechanic, dispatcher, politician, member of the libraryboard, and welder. These men order supplies, operate machines, supervise workers,make schedules, deliver building materials, dispatch trucks, and read blueprints.Curiously, almost no one expresses any concern for being unable to deal with work-related reading, even though no one can read beyond the grade-three level and as manyas fifteen of the group have to run complicated machines. In fact, most feel that theliteracy requirements of their jobs are minimal.Second, thirty per cent of the men have been elected to an office in someassociation. In order to receive that honour, one generally has to be perceived by one's102peers to be successful and responsible. Often this respect is based on achieving a level ofeconomic independence and security. In addition, Subject 34 was elected to a towncouncil and was then appointed to the library board.Third, at least eight of the men in the study have been offered promotions in theircareers, and six have accepted them in spite of an increased level of challenge in regardto their ability to deal with written language. Only Subject 8 failed to meet the demandsof his job, and yet not all of his problems were literacy-related. He was the generalmanager of an Olympic swimming pool complex. After leaving that position, he boughta service station and eventually created his own pool-servicing business.Fourth, as Table C-7 shows, six of the men in this study own and operate their ownbusinesses. Two others had owned businesses prior to the time of the interviews. Ofthis total, only one had failed in his business venture. In addition, seven others have hadbusiness sidelines to supplement their regular incomes.Fifth, twenty men own their own homes, twenty-four have investments, andtwenty-five own life insurance. In addition, the average income of the men working full-time based on figures supplied by them is approximately $34,000. This figure placestheir average $13,000 higher than the average of Canadian men with a grade twelvecertificate, $10,000 higher than those with a trade certificate and $10,000 higher thanthose with some university training (Canada. Statistics Canada 1986, 6-6 and 6-7). Atthe time of writing, 1991 census figures are not available. If only the twenty mostsuccessful financially are considered, the average income is $37,700.103These are not insecure, economically deprived people. In fact, Subject 22 hadheaded a consortium of investors that included lawyers, doctors, and other professionals.According to him, the members of the consortium were never aware that the financialmind behind their group could neither read nor write. It is erroneous to describe any ofthe people with like accomplishments as impoverished or deficient, at least in relation tothe common measures of these things. In many ways, these men have accomplishedexactly what literate people have managed to do, but without reading and writing. Thequestion about means begs an answer, especially in light of the overwhelming tendency todeny such possibilities.Literacy Is a Prerequisite for Political ParticipationBeing literate makes full participation in a democratic society possible according toprevailing views. For instance, being able to read newspapers allows a citizen to sort outwhat politicians are arguing about at election time or what the key issues are concerningsome national crisis. In addition, being literate seems a factor in the development ofindividual freedom and potential since it allows a person to function freely and to takeadvantage of the rights and freedoms afforded him by the constitution. Accordingly, anilliterate person is therefore unaware of the political activities around him, unlikely tovote in elections, unable to deal with public service bureaucrats, unaware of hisindividual rights, an unlikely candidate for office, and probably unable to have any effecton the political functioning of his society.104If the above are characteristics thought to be common among illiterate people, thenthe men interviewed for this study do not conform to this stereotype. Almost all theinterviewees say they vote regularly. Interest in current affairs, though not universal andoverwhelming, does not appear to differ much from what might be expected among anyother group of citizens. Four people have petitioned local governments. Subject 2 isinvolved in trying to insure that people in his situation -- disabled, unemployed, or onwelfare -- can receive some assistance and respect from public servants and thegovernment. Subject 27 tells of how he attempted to settle a dispute over a piece ofCrown land near his home. He was stymied until he threatened to write to the Queen.His appeal was dealt with quickly. In addition, Subject 27 has been so active in hiscommunity that he recently received an achievement award for "distinguishedcontribution". The commendation states that he has had an effect on the preservation ofthe local environment in that, "through his lobbying efforts," he has helped stop thespraying of 2-4D and has saved one of the important local forms of animal life.Although a few men mention problems filling out forms when applying for jobs, andoften take such forms home to fill them out, no one seems concerned about filling outforms for government offices and no one mentions being bothered by having to ask agovernment employee to help fill out a form. Most people appear aware of the rights andthe opportunities afforded them by the political system. In fact, the years of having tofigure out alternatives to literacy-related activities that most people take for granted maywell have made them much better citizens and more aware of how to make the systemrespond. Since twenty-three of the men have rarely been out of work, their contact with105bureaucracy has probably been minimal. Finally, there is one man who has served as anelected representative of the people among the study group. Subject 34 served on thetown council in his community and managed to deal with the literacy-related expectationsof that position and still function without anyone's discovering his illiteracy. Having oneelected representative in this group may not seem like much, but one in forty is probablyhigher than the ratio in the society at large. For instance, this researcher's teachers'federation has over one thousand members in the local school district and only two ofthem hold an elected political office. Presumably, all of the members are literate. Atany rate, this one illiterate man's public position flies in the face of what wouldcommonly be believed possible in today's world.Literacy Makes a Person Superior to Someone Who Is IlliterateThe use of phrases such as "culture of poverty", "the cycle of transmitteddeprivation", and "educationally disadvantaged" seems to increase the negativeexpectations many people, including researchers and teachers, have when they deal withilliterate people. This negativity can then override reality very quickly. In the past, ithas not been uncommon for literacy leaders or teaching instructors to ask new teachers tomake a list of all the things for which a person uses reading and writing in his or herdaily life. This process, though not meant to be prejudicial, predetermines howinexperienced teachers think about illiteracy. Subtly the teacher is likely to take on theresponsibility of rescuing people from their "deprived" state. The possibility of an equal106partnership is lost and so is the chance of the illiterate person's ever being treated as aneffectively functioning citizen.The results of this study suggest that to consider an illiterate person inferior to aliterate person is to misjudge and misread existing evidence. Instead of seeing allilliterate people as inferior, it is important to see the strengths that many have. Theyoften have to and are able to decode the rules of society without the benefit of readingbooks and newspapers. They must raise their children, purchase their homes, andfunction in daily activities if they are to succeed in life, and many of them do just that,quite well. In fact, a few illiterate people achieve high personal and material levels ofsuccess. As has been pointed out, twenty-one men in the study group own their ownhomes, twenty-four have investments, and twenty-three have life insurance. In addition,many are making a reasonable wage, and three are making over $60,000 per year. Theirown words belie any notion of their seeing themselves as inferior:When I'm dead and gone, I won't be forgotten. (Subject 27)I'm proud of what I've accomplished with my life. (Subject 28)I'm proud for who I am and what I've done in my life by helping people. (Subject24)If I changed anything, I wouldn't be what I am and I like what I am. (Subject 18)Everything I've accomplished I get a lot of self-satisfaction out of. (Subject 22)They would look at you and say 'How could a guy acquire that amount of stuff orwhat have you and work in a factory?' and I'm a manager and I can't even do any ofthat. (Subject 22)My work, the places I've been, things I was able to do and I'm pretty well proud ofeverything so far. (Subject 23)107I know I can be down and still be able to get on top again. (Subject 37)Just accomplishing what I've accomplished. Getting a job, having a house, beingmarried. (Subject 13)These men are proud of their lives, their accomplishments, and their standing in society.It is obvious they do not see themselves as inferior.Inferences About Illiterate PeopleFive inferences about illiterate people appear to be inherent in the commonly heldviews about them, influencing not only how illiterate people are perceived but also howliteracy programs are planned and operated. These five are that illiterate people havetrouble with learning, thinking and problem-solving, that illiterate people areself-conscious and lack confidence and therefore are embarrassed and withdrawn, thatilliterate people cannot be leaders, that illiterate people cannot lead normal lives orachieve a measurable level of success, and finally, and that all illiterate people need andwant to become literate. These inferences are challenged by the results of this study.Illiterate People Have Trouble LearningSeveral men recall having bad experiences in school. They remember beingsegregated into special classes, having people call them names, and feeling that they werestupid and unable to do the things with their brains that everyone else could. Thosememories persist and, for some, provide extra incentive to be better and to prove toothers that they can achieve: "Everything you do must be better than the next" Subject31; or "I had no education, but I had to work. I could make a buck where no one else108could" Subject 7. For others, the memories hinder future success. They fit thestereotyped image of the illiterate person.This stereotyped image exists beyond the illiterate person because many members ofliterate society can not comprehend anyone's actually achieving anything significantwithout a skill deemed so fundamental to success. Learning to read and write is souniversal an expectation that it is widely taken for granted. Thus, many people simplycan not comprehend that some people do not read and write; if such were the case, itlogically follows, there must be some brain deficiency making them "inferior" to thebalance of the ordinary citizenry. The words of Subjects 27 and 7 describe this all-too-common view of the illiterate person:It's like he's [the illiterate person] got an arm missing or something because peopleautomatically think because you can't read and write you're dumb. It's like yourhead's not balanced right. It's like they think very little of you. (Subject 27)A lot of people think you're dumb if you can't read and write. (Subject 7)In fact, several of the interviewees do not appear to be inferior in thinking andproblem-solving ability. Thirty have a plan for learning new things that involves morethan one step. Several attribute at least part of their success to their ability to think and itis mentioned as one of the things an illiterate person must be better at, what several thinkthey are better at. Subjects in this study are proud of this ability and it is obvious fromthe way they answer questions that their pride is not misplaced. An excellent example ofthis thinking ability is provided by the response of Subject 27 to the question, "What isyour greatest responsibility?" He says, "That's a tough one. You could answer that tendifferent ways. Are you responsible to all mankind or just you and your family." For109him the answer appears to be both. He has successfully raised three children and hasrecently received a citizenship award from his city.The men in this study generally are active learners. They want to learn new thingsand they have ways of doing so. Subject 16's words reflect the general mood of thesemen: "The day I don't learn something is a wasted day for me."Illiterate People Are Self-Conscious and Lack ConfidenceLiterate society assumes that illiterate people are as concerned about their illiteracyas everyone else is. Literate society projects its own values, goals, and assumptions ontothe process of achieving success. Since the literate society assumes that it got where it isthrough education, it can only assume that illiterate society will, through deduction,realize that failure, self-pity and despair will ultimately follow in the wake of so serious adeficiency as the inability to read and write.For the subjects in this study, this description of their collective state of mind ispretty far from the truth. When asked what things have affected their lives, they mentionpersonal strengths such as pride, hard work, and ambition twenty-seven times comparedto only six times for weaknesses. As mentioned earlier in this chapter and shown inTable D-32, the subjects' only lack of confidence has to do with school-related concerns."A sense of despair" and "not being confident of their abilities" are not accuratedescriptions of their outlook. When asked if they think they can do things they set outto, twenty answer yes unequivocally while seventeen more give a qualified yes. They aregenerally confident about their prospects. Table D-30 shows that the sources of110confidence most frequently mentioned are related to their mental abilities (fifty-five percent), while the sources of non-confidence have to do with schooling (seventy per cent).The following statements show how schooling and related activities are sources of non-confidence:When it comes to having to put it on paper . . . . (Subject 6)I just couldn't put it on paper so I was so thankful that I could do what I am doing.(Subject 6)I can do things as long as it doesn't have a book and a pencil. (Subject 29)I can get that attitude [positive] toward everything but spelling. (Subject 22)If you told me to take that dishwasher apart, I could do that no problem. But if youtold me to write about that dishwasher . . . . (Subject 2)If they don't show me, I can't do it. (Subject 4)So far whatever I set my mind to do, I get it done away from readin. (Subject 31)It [whether or not I achieve what I set out to do] would depend on what it would be.Education-wise, no.' (Subject 35)Some of the education they're asking for is wrong. If I've got the ability, I should beable to go into a garage and have a chance. (Subject 35)Finally, it is worth noting that social participation, as shown in Table C-10, isprobably higher than many people might expect. Seventy-five per cent of the fortyinterviewees have participated in some group or association at some time, and fifty-fiveper cent have held an elected position -- a remarkably high percentage for a reputedlyundereducated and unconfident group. These men do not diverge from what might beexpected of the general population, nor do they appear to lack the confidence that isconsidered a result of a good education.111Illiterate People Cannot Be LeadersIn our modern bureaucratic world, the ability to manage and lead is often associatedwith forms, paper, and keeping records. Thus only the literate, presumably, are fit tomanage the affairs of state or commerce. Literacy would seem a prerequisite forleadership.Skills once important to leadership have taken a place secondary to those associatedwith record-keeping, the purview of passive literacy skills. Thus, it appears that therequirements of being a role model, a team player, a communicator, and a hard workerhave been superseded by the ability to fill out forms and to keep things in proper order.If a problem arises around this issue, it usually develops in the mind of the illiterateworker. He feels he cannot handle the paper work and turns down promotions. His bossis usually unaware of the reasons for his employee's unwillingness to climb the corporateladder, thinking, if anything, that the man lacks motivation. Subject 28 explains how forsix months he turned down a promotion with a trucking company. His bosses wantedhim to move from the tire-repair area to become a dispatcher. Finally, his bosses madehim sit in their office and explain his refusal. When he said that he thought he couldn'tread and write well enough to do the job, they said they would teach him what he had todo and that they wanted him for his other skills and not for his literacy. This anecdoteillustrates what often happens in the workplace. Illiterate men are offered better jobs andpromotions not because they can read and write -- it is assumed that they can -- butbecause they exemplify the attributes the employer is looking for. These situations aretragic only when neither side knows a mutually satisfying solution is possible.112The fact that men in this study are able to run their own businesses, are offeredpromotions, and oversee workers suggests that perhaps the high priority on literacy skillsfor leadership may be misplaced. If illiterate businessmen can hire accountants andclerical workers to look after the literacy-based demands of their businesses, why wouldit not be possible for employers to hire clerical assistants for illiterate workers whom theyhave identified as superior employees worthy of promotion? Such people in positions ofresponsibility can be as effective as those who might be literate but lack the interpersonalskills and attitudes valued by supervisors.Illiterate People Cannot Lead Normal Lives or Be SuccessfulIt is said that people who are illiterate can not function in society (Calamai 1987a,7). Presumably this means they can not cope with everyday activities such as shoppingfor groceries, driving, keeping informed about community events, voting, filling outapplications, working where a job requires any reading or writing, going to restaurants,writing cheques, and conducting any business requiring a contractual agreement. Sinceall these activities appear to require literacy skills, someone who is illiterate appearsunable to make his way without such skills. Outwardly, this argument seems logicalenough. But it has weaknesses.One presupposes that everyone must be able to perform each of these activities forhimself, the ideal being a society of highly independent, self-motivated achievers. Butsome people -- literate and otherwise -- hire experts. No one needs to be able to do allthings. In addition, the men in this study have many strategies for decoding and coping113with the literate world they live in. When asked what strategies they use to keep peoplefrom finding out they are illiterate, they mention thirty-eight different ways. In addition,twenty-one alternatives to reading and fifteen alternatives to writing are mentioned.Some of the more novel suggestions are using a black book to diagram control panels ofmachines, telling someone to read a document because you can think better whenlistening, asking people to fill out forms while you load your truck, simply askingsomeone to fill out a form as if it were perfectly natural to do that, tape recordingdiscussions, and taking photographs.A second weakness presupposes that all these activities are necessary functionswithin society and that these functions somehow relate to the idea of being successful.Again, this is not necessarily so. When asked what success is, no one mentions beingable to carry out day-to-day functions and only three mention being able to read or write.Instead, frequently mentioned are having steady work, a good family life, securefinances, a balance between work and play, having possessions and friends, and feelingssuch as happiness and self-satisfaction. Literacy and related activities do not appear to bea big concern.The financially successful illiterate men in this study have achieved a measure ofsuccess according to two standards generally accepted by society. They have a goodincome and they are rarely out of work. Yet, for all that, they are not able to do all ofthe above-listed daily activities themselves. Thus, many people would consider them tobe hopeless at basic and commonly accepted routines.114The thinking here, however, is clearly literacy-biased. Accordingly, people'ssuccess rests solely on their ability to perform literacy-based tasks, not on how well theyhave kept a job, stayed married, raised a family, made investments, and prospered in life.Perhaps these standards are the ones against which measures of success should be based,since it appears that one need not perform all the literacy-based activities in order tosucceed. The following quotes are indicative of attitudes toward success commonly heldby the men of this study. They value friendship, marriage, family life, being able torelax, satisfaction, balance, having a home, savings, and being happy:If you can help people . . . . (Subject 37)Success to me is not money; success is having friends, having a good marriage -- agood marriage is first no doubt about that, having a good family, having friends,having people you enjoy to be around a lot. (Subject 27)[Success occurs] when you feel comfortable where you're working and with peopleand with life. (Subject 16)I would say success is self-satisfaction, being able to live with yourself, being happyand contented. I wouldn't classify being rich [as being] success[ful]. Having abalanced type of life where you can go out and enjoy yourself and leave the workbehind, and have a lot of fun along with your wife and family -- I would say thatwould be success. I wouldn't say success lies in being a millionaire. I never evenintended to be one. But once you get your way of thinking changed or set in certaindirections, well everything changes. (Subject 22)If you see that you are improving, you are successful. (Subject 29)When you are successful, a few things start comin' your way. I think I have beensuccessful cause I got my house, I got my family, I got my car and I'm workin'. Igot a little in the bank. (Subject 15)Success is just being happy. If the guy's happy at doing his job and making themoney he's got, he's got his hobbies and what not -- he's happy, that's okay. (Subject25)115Myself, I feel right now I've been quite successful in my life, my home life. I've gota good wife and kids. Myself, I feel quite successful because me with the lack ofeducation that I know what I know and I feel good about what I know and I don'tmind sometimes showing what I know to people. (Subject 35)If you own your house and you have $10,000 [saved] over your career, you're prettywell off. (Subject 33)All Illiterate People Need and Want to Be LiterateThe perception that all illiterate people need and want to become literate isdangerous for two reasons. First, it reinforces the concept of the illiterate person'sdeficiency. Thus, researchers and teachers-in-training approach their dealings withilliterate people from this negative point of view, feeling that literacy is the solution toany problems the illiterate person might have. This narrow focus, with its reductivethinking, effectively eliminates the possibility that the strong positive aspects of anilliterate person's character can form the basis on which to build a successful life. It alsoeliminates the possibility of seeing that most human beings have needs beyond literacy.Second, this view makes it impossible for program providers to conceive of people whodo not particularly care to become literate. Such people are simply lumped in with theother non-participants and assumed to be absent as a result of ignorance or some otherbarrier. Consequently, what non-participants could teach literacy providers aboutprogram needs is lost.Several members of this study fit into the group of illiterate people who neitherneed nor want literacy skills. In their minds, they have been successful and they cannotsee how literacy would change their lives for the better:116What could I do with reading that I can't do now? (Subject 6)Education has no effect on the ability to work. (Subject 7)If I had an education, would I be any happier or would I demand more? (Subject 16)In fact for some, attempting to become literate could result in frustration and failure.Table C-25 shows that thirteen per cent of the men have difficulty learning in literacyprograms; however, when the most successful are considered alone, twenty-seven percent have difficulty. In addition, Table D-32 shows that most of the interviewees'anxieties are related to school. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, these men have verylittle success in literacy programs they attend.By ignoring or failing to recognize the existence of these illiterate people,researchers and educators miss an opportunity to discover why some people (perhapsmany people) do not attend literacy programs and how such programs could be improvedfor those who do attend.SummaryThe characteristics of the illiterate men involved in this study are compared to theperceptions of illiterate adults as being deficient. For the most part, the members of thisstudy do not fit the stereotypes. They are not generally embarrassed about theirilliteracy, nor are they particularly concerned about remedying it. Although virtuallyeveryone has tried a literacy program at one time, only about twenty-five per cent havestuck with it, and no one has become literate to the grade-four level, a very minimaldefinition of literacy by today's standards. The men in this study are not prone to crime,117unemployment, or poverty. Many are financially successful and do not support theperception that literacy is a prerequisite for personal economic achievement. Themembers of this study report voting regularly; they are active in social groups, and onehas been a political figure of some prominence. Evidence suggests their politicalinvolvement has been unimpaired by illiteracy. Many of the men interviewed for thisstudy do not feel inferior to others; in many cases they have a great sense ofaccomplishment. They are not particularly shy, diffident or retiring; they are not easilydistinguished from the general population in any way. In fact, they would beindistinguishable from any fully functioning member of society.No solid support exists for the idea that illiterate people have trouble learning,thinking, or problem-solving. When they set their minds to learning, they achieve theirgoals. Subjects in this study deal effectively with problems related to literacy and literatesociety. They appear competent, capable, and confident. The idea that illiterate peopleare self-conscious and withdrawn is not supported by the evidence provided by membersof the more successful group; their involvement in business and community activitiessuggests the opposite. Even those who make less money are involved in a wider range ofactivities than the stereotypes suggest. Being illiterate does not stop many from runningbusinesses, running for office, or heading families. Their leadership potential standsunchallenged. Finally, it appears that illiterate people lead normal lives in a literatesociety by developing strategies based on oral not written fluency, thereby achievingsuccess personally, socially, and financially.CHAPTER 5ILLITERATE MENCOPING WITH LITERATE SOCIETYThe illiterate men in this study are indistinguishable from literate men. They showno physical signs of their illiteracy and even their children are usually unaware of theirfathers' inability to read or write.Their unobtrusiveness indicates that these men must have an array of copingstrategies helping them to fit in with the literate society they are very much a part of. Infact, fitting in accounts for the greatest number of responses (forty-one per cent) to thequestion, "Do you find that you have to be better at things because you can't read andwrite?" Since another twenty-two per cent of the responses deal with competition andthirty-seven per cent deal with mental skills, it appears these illiterate men see coping asa large part of what they have to do in life, and certainly it would play a role in howsuccessful they could become in a world dominated by print.This chapter presents results of this study as they relate to how these men deal withliterate society, or how they try to appear literate.118119Coping StrategiesAlthough all the interviewees do not have all of the following coping strategies, allhave some and as a group, the men in this study reflect a number of ways of dealing withliterate society. Topics include successes like learning methods, alternatives to readingand writing, social activity, self-employment, and failure with literacy courses. Whereapplicable, special achievements and anecdotes are shared.Learning MethodsSince educational systems are so closely tied to the print medium, it is easy toassume that learning is dependent on print. Yet this is not necessarily the case outside offormal institutions and with increasingly sophisticated special education methods isbecoming less true inside as well.The men in this study are conscious learners. Only two men respond "I don'tknow" when asked how they would learn something new. Typical first responses to thisquestion are "find an expert", "ask", "watch". When questioned further about how theywould set about learning something new, the men provide twenty-seven different wayswith a total for all of one hundred and five or over two ways per man. Of the forty men,thirty commonly use more than one method of learning and appear to have a learningplan in place. Ten of the men have a well developed plan and nine of these are amongthe most financially successful of the group. Of additional interest concerning learningmethods is that these men rarely mention spouses as factors in their learning processes,an unexpected discovery in light of common views of dependence among illiterate men.120The following quotes give some idea of the interviewees' own descriptions of theirlearning methods. They seek experts or experienced sources:Most of the stuff is by watching how someone else did it. (Subject 25)Always pay attention to others and hear what they say. (Subject 34)I would go and watch somebody; pick it up that way. (Subject 11)You can't learn if somebody don't show you things. (Subject 7)In the first place, I try to get in contact with someone that has a knowledge of it andthen I ask questions, and I'm a great learner. (Subject 6)If I think someone else has done it well, I'll talk to them about it and then I'll get amanual and I'll go over. Usually, if it's a piece of equipment, I like to do it. If Ihave a problem or I can't figure it out, then I'll go to the guy that's experienced. Iask a lot of questions. (Subject 16)Find myself someone that knows that subject and drill him or her about it. (Subject27)Older people have so much knowledge. If you don't talk to older people, you'rereally missing the boat, I find. (Subject 27)They watch television:I'm a great news watcher; I learn a ton from the TV. (Subject 27)They ask questions:You need to know what questions to ask. (Subject 5)They experiment:If I see something new and I want to learn, I see if I can get a few notes [notes mayinclude diagrams, words, or symbols] on it or something I can study to make sure Iknow a few things about it. Then I try to put it all together. I sit down; I thinkabout it and I try to work it all into one little bank for myself. Then I'd try to get achance to play around with it. (Subject 15)They find learning important:121The day I don't learn something new is a wasted day for me. (Subject 16)In summary, these men are learners and cope with what they must to deal with lifeand work in literate society.Alternatives to Reading and WritingThese men have defined ways of receiving and sending information normallyrequiring a print medium. Twenty-one alternatives to reading are identified with askingbeing mentioned thirty per cent of the time, observing sixteen per cent, and televisionfifteen per cent. Wives are suggested only eight per cent of the time. Fifteen differentalternatives to writing are mentioned with the telephone rating twenty-one per cent, wiveseighteen per cent, and asking others to write fourteen per cent; their oral strengths andpreferences are obvious. The increased spousal influence can be traced directly to menwhose jobs include club president, union steward, politician, owner of a mail-orderbusiness, and contracts' supervisor. Some examples of strategies and alternatives follow.Getting information:Ask a lot of questions in a round about way and a lot of different people. It takes along time but you make the big circle. And you don't ask too many questions to oneperson. Cause if you start that, they get inquisitive and that you didn't need, you see.(Subject 7)If you ask, people will tell you. (Subject 7)If I saw a new notice [being put up on the bulletin board] I'd go to this guy and I'dsay, 'What the hell is all this bitchin' about now? Is that the same as last time?'(Subject 1)You read the letter to me cause I can concentrate better when you're reading. (Subject27)122You pretend you're shopping and you listen to what they're talking about. (Subject17)If I don't really know how to do it and I can't put it in words, I'll take my cameraand go down and take some pictures. (Subject 2)Getting writing done:For instance, I used to sell tickets and I would say, 'no you put your own name on.That way you'll know for sure it's there.' (Subject 7)[I would get my customers to fill out my delivery forms by saying] 'I'm late for mynext appointment. Could you fill this out while I load up?' (Subject 12)I go along and I ask how to spell that one word. Somebody said, 'Look I want this atthe store,' and I'd say, 'Write it down so I don't forget it.' (Subject 7)I have learned to take the attitude, "Well, will you fill that out for me please?" andninety-nine per cent of the time the people will do it. (Subject 22)The black book:I never had no system as far as A B C or something like that goes. Say for instance,I wanted some guy's name or a list of names. I have every guy's name in thedepartment I worked in. If I had their names, then I could get their addresses in thephone book. (Subject 7)Things that I had to know and wanted to know so's I wouldn't forget, I would writedown in this book. The book had names of tires, foreman's name, appointments,addresses (to go to), names of people, and words for forms. (Subject 7)Compensating:Not being able to read and write sometimes makes you work harder. Not being ableto read and write, it made me listen to people a lot more because I learned a lot bylistening. (Subject 15)Anything you do, you remember or I have to sit back and see it. I have to think a lotabout it and think every angle. I think I spent more time doing this. I work harder --it has to satisfy me and if it satisfies me, it will satisfy someone else. (Subject 16)Well I've done a lot of things in terms of being creative. (Subject 22)123I try to memorize a lot of things . . . I can't put it on paper because I don't knowwhat to write so I try to remember. (Subject 29)You have to be better at working; you have to be better qualified. (Subject 20)I think that's why I had to be number one, because I couldn't go out and get a betterjob. (Subject 31)Strategies such as those above allow the men to function in a literate society withoutappearing illiterate.Social ActivityAs has been noted, these men do not shy away from social activity. Most havebelonged to clubs (thirty-three) and several (twelve) have held elected positions. Inaddition, they participate in many activities -- camping, going to concerts, playing golf,bowling, and attending church -- which bring them into contact with others. Apparentlytheir illiteracy does not hold them back or make them feel insecure.Self-EmploymentSix of the men in this study are self-employed while two others have been, and sixhave run side-line businesses at different times in their employment history. Self-employment can be a coping strategy since it allows one to by-pass some restrictions of aliterate society. For instance, Subject 6 wanted to train as an auto mechanic but mighthave had trouble getting his papers in a traditional shop. His response was to buy agarage and hire a mechanic so he could apprentice in his own garage. He wassuccessful. Another man has had three businesses including a restaurant, a paving124company, and a trucking operation. A third was so successful at his home renovationside-line he retired at forty-one to become a self-employed real-estate investor. All ofthese men have been able to achieve things through self-employment that might have beendenied them otherwise.Taking Literacy CoursesWorth repeating is the fact that studying to become a literate person has beenconsidered by all save one of the interviewees; however, it has been a solution very fewpersisted with over the years. Of note is that only twenty-three per cent of reasons fortaking literacy courses are task-related compared to fifty-three per cent for personalgrowth. Also important is that only eight per cent of reasons relate to outside pressure orfear of exposure. Clearly, these men have acceptable coping strategies in place.SummaryThe men in this study have a number of coping strategies and appear to be activelearners with a variety of ways to learn new things. They are quite capable of receivingand sending information using oral techniques, without being dependent on their spouses;they have a number of alternatives to use; and they are socially active, suggesting thatrelating with literate people is not a real cause for concern since they have ways ofdealing with potential problems. As well, self-employment may be a way of reachinglevels of success which might otherwise be blocked by any forms or tests in the largerworkplace. Finally, they have not persisted in attempts to become literate. This125disinclination for persistence suggests that they are not in great need of becoming literatefor any task-related purposes. Thus it may be reasonably assumed they are copingsuccessfully.CHAPTER 6SUCCESSFUL FUNCTIONINGIN LITERATE SOCIETYSome of the illiterate men in this study have managed to be financially successful.Most of the men in this study carry out normal activities in a print-dominated world eventhough they can not read and write very well. Many of these men manage to appearfully competent when such competence is often viewed by the larger society asinextricably associated with being literate. These statements bear directly on the issue ofsuccessful functioning by challenging the belief that literacy is a prerequisite for successleading to improvements in the lives of illiterate people, and by prompting questionsconcerning how competence is achieved.Assessing the factors of financial and other kinds of success involves studying theresponses of interviewees related to expected factors of success -- confidence,responsibility, pride, learning methods, work ethic, alternatives to reading and writing,and perceptions of success -- and analyzing whether common types of views, attitudes,values, or actions exist, especially among those who are more successful financially.Interestingly, the more successful financially do share a number of common attributesalthough the distinction between more and less successful is sometimes blurred. Inaddition to financial success, also considered are other common measures of success --126127social memberships, election to office, home ownership, steady employment, maritalstatus, and the educational and work-place success of children. Thus the ideas andattitudes of men who have not made great amounts of money but who appear fullycompetent are considered.By the end of this chapter, a clearer picture of factors contributing to successbeyond those of reading and writing should exist. In this context, the terms more andless successful refer to those men on either the upper or lower half of the incomecontinuum.ConfidenceSuccess and self-confidence seem inseparable companions; each breeds the other.Successful men in this study are confident about their abilities and often unafraid to facethe demands of literate society on their own. The following sub-areas of confidenceappear to bear upon the relationship between success and confidence: perceptions ofabilities, sources of confidence, confidence-building activities or skills, and relatedbusiness and social experiences.Perceptions of AbilitiesThe more successful financially are more positive in outlook and seventy-five percent of their responses are unqualified (optimism breeds optimism, regardless of results itseems); however, all interviewees give positive answers eighty-five per cent of the time128when asked if they think they can do what they set out to do, but the less successful mengive qualified answers sixty-five per cent of the time:If I try my best, I think I can handle it. (Subject 20)Just about anything I want to do. (Subject 37)Sometimes I guess if I really put my mind to it. (Subject 36)Just depends on what I'm trying out. (Subject 24)Contrast the above responses by less successful men with the confidence evident in theresponses of more successful men:If I want something and decide I want it, I'm going to get it. (Subject 5)There is nothing I wouldn't try. (Subject 25)If you can do it, there's no reason why I can't do it. (Subject 22)If you make up your mind, you're going to do it. (Subject 7)More successful men seem to have a commitment to doing well. They do not hedge withterms like "if", "about", "sometimes", or "depends".Sources of ConfidenceThe different sources of confidence are summarized in Table D-30 and grouped toinclude mental ability, mental strength, suitable circumstances, physical ability, and faithin self or God. These men apparently see themselves as having control over their lives.Twelve of the more successful say that the source of their confidence lies within. Subject16 describes this internal strength: "Well, I think everyone has a gift, eh. Before I doanything at all, I think it out and I can almost picture it . . . ." Among the less129successful men, only five mention this internal strength while an equal number see luckor chance as having a part to play in what happens to them. On the other hand, the onerepeated response among the more successful men, "If I put my mind to it," seemstelling. This view is clearly stated by Subject 7: "It's being able to sit down and say,`Look, I'm going to do it'. . . . You've got to convince yourself there's nothing youcan't do." Mental and psychological strength appear important contributors to beingsuccessful.Confidence-Building Activities or SkillsSpecific areas of confidence mentioned are summarized in Table D-31. Theyprimarily involve working with one's hands. About twice as many of the more successfulmen (thirteen to seven) mention these activities. It appears that skills not requiringliteracy are important confidence-builders and ways of achieving success. Most peoplewould not be surprised by this connection between illiterate people and manual skills. Infact, many would suggest it is the only area of functioning open to illiterate people. Ofnote however, is that evidence described in Chapter 4 and later in this chapter suggeststhat these illiterate men also value thinking and are active learners. They are not limitedto manual achievements although they have been successful there. A possibleinterpretation is that they have been driven to manual activities simply because literatesociety believes that mastering print holds the key to academic success.130Business and Social ExperienceSeven of the men interviewed own a business; this count includes one man whoowns a farm but works in a factory as well. Although two of the seven are in the lowerhalf of the income continuum, they are in the upper half of the other continua of successmentioned earlier. Owning a business seems to support the idea that these men areconfident in their abilities. Little security exists for independent businessmen; they arelargely on their own. By contrast, only two of the less successful financially ever tried torun their own businesses, both unsuccessfully.Membership in clubs is fairly consistent throughout the interviewee population butabout twice as many of the financially successful men have been elected to leadershippositions. Perhaps the more successful men find such people-oriented challenges lessintimidating than do their less successful counterparts. Their being elected may alsoreflect how they are perceived by their peers, that is, as fully functioning, financiallysuccessful, and respected.Evidence suggests that the men who have functioned successfully, financially and inother ways, have a sense of purpose and drive that motivates them. They have developedexpertise and competence especially in manual skills, and appear willing to face thechallenges of functioning in literate society as independent businessmen or members ofclubs and associations. They are confident in what they can do and how they can fit in.131ResponsibilityA sense of responsibility usually indicates a sense of commitment and succeedingagainst odds usually requires commitment. Thus expecting successful men to have astrong sense of responsibility makes sense in this context.Interviewees' attitudes toward responsibility are grouped under categories reflectingthe thrust of interview questions: where responsibility is learned, my greatestresponsibility, responsible for whom, keeping promises, being late, missing work, andquitting a job.Where Responsibility Is LearnedTable D-33 shows that most subjects agree on this, with almost seventy-five percent of responses identifying either experience or other people as the major teacher andabout ten per cent mentioning a certain inbred or inherent sense of personal duty. Ofthose unable to identify a source, five of seven are among the least successful financially.The following demonstrate types of answers:Leadership has to come from the house and discipline has to come from the house.(Subject 7)I think being responsible comes from all the things you want in life. If you wantthese things, you gotta work for them and you've gotta be responsible. (Subject 25)I always had to do my part in jobs. A lot of times they relied on you. (Subject 33)Everyday living. I'm self-taught. (Subject 2)I learned that myself. Not from watching my mother and father. (Subject 24)132Regardless of the source, these men generally have a sense of responsibility andknow where they learned it.Keeping PromisesResponse is uniform here too; most subjects feel promises ought to be kept.Whether all are as good as their word is outside the bounds of the present investigation,of course. Exceptions to the rule are also mentioned by several men. Subject 27 tells aninteresting story about the importance of a promise which he says, ". . . is like a goldenhandshake; you have to keep it."I always remember one time when my brother-in-law asked to borrow my four-wheeldrive one weekend because he wanted to go on a special fishing trip and I said yesbecause I had to work that weekend. I said ya he could use it and geez if I find outon Friday that I didn't have to work and so I want to go up in the worst way. Ididn't tell but I let him use my truck and I went and rented one.Being LateAgain there is overwhelming agreement here; tardiness is unacceptable. Whetherpractice and intent are one and the same among subjects in the study is again impossibleto know. Certainly no subjects were ever late for their interviews.Missing WorkThe small amount of work missed over the years is apparently always caused byillness, or in the case of several less successful men, by injury. All the men appear133highly committed to their work. Again verification is impossible. Examples of thiscommitment and its rationale follow:In nine years I took only one day off. I gotta be either sick or hurt to miss work.(Subject 15)First thing is good attendance. Make sure he's there on time. (Subject 35)If you're reliable and dependable, people get to know. (Subject 22)I'm never late; I can't see any reason for being late. (Subject 38)If you've got a good job, I can't see you quittin it because you're just going to haveto work no matter where you go. (Subject 7)These men are aware of the importance of reliability and dependability in the workplaceand are committed to both.Quitting a JobResponses provided in Table D-35 suggest that personal satisfaction motivates mostdecisions to change jobs. Categories of reasons include something wrong with the job,wanting to improve, and already having a new job. Because this study is interested inperceptions, these responses can only be taken as versions of the truth. Most interestinghere perhaps is the degree to which job satisfaction rather than financial security informsthese major decisions, something often suggested as typical of the workforce as a whole.Two examples follow:I think if you're unhappy working and if there's an atmosphere . . . . you know,maybe money reasons. If you can't do it for health reasons or if you can betteryourself. (Subject 16)You have to know you're moving into something else unless something really bugsyou bad and then you just quit. (Subject 14)134My Greatest ResponsibilityFamily and self are the most frequently mentioned responsibilities of interviewees:It's important to keep a happy home. We have lots of friends stopping by. (Subject16)To raise children with an education. (Subject 7)Lookin after the wife and kids. That's the goal in life, I would say. To have ahappy home. (Subject 33)The importance of happiness and the need to provide are in evidence. To provide anenvironment for a family takes stability and an element of success.Responsible for Whom?Information concerning numbers of children and the marital status of the variousinterviewees is provided in Appendix C under Tables 11 and 12. Only one of the moresuccessful men has no other person to be responsible for (two single men each have onedependent); in addition, one man cares for two or three young relatives. On the otherhand, forty per cent of the least financially successful men have only themselves to lookafter. These figures verify an apparent tendency towards family responsibilities amongthe more successful men in general. Interest in others may be not only a factor ofsuccess but a cause as well; this reaching out may indeed be one of the signatures of asuccessful citizen.135Marital StatusBeing married seems to reinforce other observations concerning levels ofresponsibility and commitment in more successful men. Seventeen of the more successfulmen have been married at least once while four of these are in second marriages. Inaddition, one has just ended a relationship and has a baby daughter to look after; onesingle man is looking after his mother. By comparison, of the thirteen men receivingsocial assistance (unemployment, workman's compensation, or welfare), five are single,one is divorced, and seven are presently married.Among the men in this study, marriage seems to accompany financial success moreoften than not. The support of their wives may be instrumental in the dealings thatsuccessful men have with literate society although the men themselves seldom mention it.Family responsibilities may also motivate these successful subjects to a significant degree,though the married men among the less successful are not significantly better off thantheir unmarried counterparts. Traditional theories about supportive spouses thereforeapply only occasionally.Internal motivations, however, may be another matter. Increased responsibilityamong the more successful illiterate men may be linked to their ideas of fulfilment.The men in this study give evidence of knowing the importance of responsibilityand where a sense of responsibility comes from. They generally exhibit qualities ofbeing responsible especially with regard to attitudes about keeping promises, being late,and quitting a job. In terms of acting responsibly, most do as witnessed by their relative136financial success and child-rearing practices. In this respect, the most successfulfinancially may appear to be more responsible.PrideIn contrast to the hopelessness inherent in the Hunter and Harman categories,subjects in this study seem generally infused by a sense of personal pride. Anydifficulties with schooling do not cast shadows on the balance of their outlook. Neitherdoes being unable to read provide any particular burden. These are typical, hopefulcitizens.Evidence of their pride appears under things I am proud of, things I am not soproud of, how I know I have done a good job, and what other people's opinions mean tome.Things I Am Proud ofFirst responses are considered here, and are assembled under internal categories --qualities, achievements, and skills; external categories -- things, people, and associations;and I don't know.Table D-36 summarizes the first responses to the question "What are some thingsyou are proud of?" Seventy two per cent mention personal pride. This supports earlierevidence of the importance of fulfilment. Four of the five "I don't know" responsescome from those least successful financially.137Table D-37 presents a summary of positive responses following initial answers.Although personal sources of pride are only fifty-eight per cent, it appears evident thatthese men generally feel secure about themselves. The fact that another thirty-two percent of responses deal with social interactions lends further support to the idea ofpersonal confidence. The following representative responses show the strong feelingsgenerated by personal achievements. Evidently, these men find pride in the ways mostpeople do. Sometimes pride comes from achievements such as acquiring possessions,gaining financial stability, acquiring skills and learning, doing good work, or being first:My horses, my antique cars, and my tractors. (Subject 33)I saved over the years to buy my first truck and to do this, I worked pretty hard.(Subject 16)I'm proud of myself being able to get a job and to have the things I got today.(Subject 15)I would say this, I've been quite pleased with my lifestyle and, ah, . . . my way oflife and my accomplishments. I don't feel my life has been wasted. I have doneeverything and anything that I ever set out to do and done everything that I everwanted so I don't feel that I've had a wasted life in any way, shape, or form. (Subject22)I can train a dog. I'm smart that way and I'm proud I always was a good swimmer.I'm proud about my lawn. I'm a good gardener; that just came natural. I'm proud ofthem because I picked them up on my own. Nobody showed me that. (Subject 38)I'm proud of trying to get myself an education. I'm proud of being able to walkaround and have a clean record. (Subject 11)I love my cooking. (Subject 3)I'm proud of every building I've renovated; they were not slip-slop jobs. (Subject 22)I was the first mechanic in our family. (Subject 6)138I was likely the first fellow who tried to make a business by putting weddings onvideo-tape. (Subject 27)Sometimes pride comes from positive character traits such as working hard, having drive,doing good work, or being unafraid:I guess it's drive or pride, I don't know which. I've never been afraid to go and askfor a job. (Subject 7)To be able to sit down with you. It takes a lot of guts. I'm very proud of this.(Subject 23)No one ever said, 'You did a lousy job.' I never asked for anything unless I waspushed right to it. I wasn't afraid to work. I was never out of work. (Subject 7)I always do a good job; it's nice and neat. (Subject 20)Sometimes pride comes from helping others:I was always involved with teenagers. We had clubs at the church. (Subject 16)Finally, and importantly for many of these men, pride comes from recognition:I like that feeling, you know, when you walk into the bank and they call you by yourname. (Subject 1)When I walk into a do, whatever it is, I really feel that the party livens up becauseI'm there. (Subject 27)As I accomplish more, I am given more respect. I like the prestige of owning myown business. I do like to have people working for me. (Subject 25)The best thing I'm proud of is that police citation. (Subject 24)If you're good at something, there's ways of getting on TV. (Subject 27)I'm proud that I make a success of myself in all ways. I can go anywhere with myhead held high up in the world. When I'm dead and gone, I won't be forgotten.(Subject 27)It appears that peer recognition is a source of pride for illiterate men too. Thispiece of evidence fits with their willingness to join groups and hold elected office. They139seem unafraid to face challenges and risk exposure. The risks of exposure may not be asgreat as literate people might think.Things I Am Not So Proud ofResponses here are always personal and are grouped under the headings pooreducation, personal weakness, situations under my control, situations beyond my control,and denial. A summary of the responses is presented in Table D-38.Less successful men have slightly more to say here, as might be reasonablyexpected. Poor education is mentioned a number of times by the men. Most thinkliteracy advantageous, but none bemoan their lack of it. Typically, Subjects 8 and 21 areso satisfied with their lives now that they express an unwillingness to change anythingabout themselves, past or present.Generally, these men are not burdened by guilt and are not about to let problemsinterfere with living their lives. An excellent example of this is their recognition of lackof education as something they are not proud of. Twenty-five per cent of the answersconcern this problem, yet few have let it interfere with their lives in any serious way. Infact, as noted elsewhere, many see thinking and learning as personal strengths -- skillsoften associated with formal schooling.140How I Know I Have Done a Good JobThe question is a cross-check on sources of pride. Categories of response are self-recognition, recognition by others, and I don't know. A summary is provided in TableD-39.Seventy per cent of the more successful men do not need outside recognition; theirsatisfactions are internal. Most frequently they mention fine workmanship as the sourceof that satisfaction as the following example demonstrates: "If it pleases me, it wouldplease anybody because I'm a fussy worker and I want a thing done right if it's at allpossible" (Subject 22). Less successful men are less confident; only forty per cent arewilling to rely on their own judgement in such matters; their most frequent form ofrecognition is "if it felt good". Generally they appear either to require or acceptsupervision. These results most likely are not unique to illiterate men.What Others' Opinions Mean to MeData presented in Table D-40 reveal that these men are affected by others'opinions. Over thirty per cent of responses indicate importance. In addition, a numberof men offered that peoples' opinions can be evaluated and are significant according tousefulness or perhaps who is offering. These men do not shy away from contact. Theyvalue it and learn from it. It is not a source of fear or a reason for isolation. Theirawareness of others ties in with the importance of recognition as a source of pride.The men interviewed for this study are generally proud individuals. They are ableto recognize their own strengths and achievements and value the recognition of their141peers. They appear to be fully functioning members of society, participating in normallevels of social interaction and benefitting from it. Thus they have the opportunities forsuccess that any literate person might.Learning Something NewProgressing in life usually means making changes and making change by definitioninvolves acquiring new ways or learning. If learning is equated with having proper toolslike being literate, then illiterate people would likely have trouble learning and hence withprogressing and ultimately being successful. But the men in this study are successful inmany ways; they have progressed. They must be capable of learning.Data in this section reveal the number of ways used to learn, where help is sought,feelings about making mistakes, and learning plans. They reveal active learners.Number of WaysTable D-41 shows that these illiterate men have mastered a number of ways,including finding experts, asking, watching, listening, making notes, phoning, or gettingbooks, to gather information which can contribute to successful functioning. They arenot without the means for learning.Who Helped?The more successful men mention the use of an expert more frequently by a factorof almost three to one. A standard of excellence seems implicit in their responses:142If I think someone else has done it well, I'll talk to them about it. (Subject 16)I find out the best guy doing what I want to know and I watch him. (Subject 18)If I want information, I go to who I would consider to be the proper source -- theperson who has the best knowledge. (Subject 22)These responses fit well with the notion that pride of accomplishment results from thequality of workmanship. In addition, going to an expert implies an open admission ofignorance, something men with strong self-images might find easier to do. Recognizingsomeone as an expert and acknowledging that expertise also implies a certain skill indiplomacy.Making MistakesTrial and error as a method of learning is the exclusive province of the moresuccessful men in this study. Self-esteem is likely operative here, as is an innate orcultivated sense of confidence. Since mistakes are always part of learning, this is animportant revelation. In fact, Subject 7's statement that "Educated people fail becausethey are afraid to make a mistake," seems to capture the essence of what is to them therelationship between success and the art of learning from mistakes.Having a PlanAn analysis of all the answers related to learning something new indicates at leastthree distinct steps in learning: identifying a source of information, acquiring theinformation, and putting the information to use. This last step is mentioned by eight ofthe more successful men, six referring to it as the "trial-and-error" stage when they try143things out. Throughout the interview process, it is uncommon for anyone to speak of theacquisition of information for the sake of simply having it, rather than using it to dosomething.Interviewees are usually expected to reveal all three stages of the learning processin order to indicate their possession of a plan. The results of the analysis are presentedin Table D-44.If the three stages of the learning plan as identified through the analysis ofresponses are valid, then the more successful men are much more likely to take anorganized approach to learning (nine mention three stages compared to only one of theless successful men). All men appear well aware of the importance of finding a sourceof information and of having a way of getting information from that source. Why do themore successful men have a tendency to enunciate the third step more frequently than dothe less successful? Perhaps they are more aware of the importance of implementation asa stage in the learning process. Most people would likely agree that until somethingnewly learned is used, it is not in the learner's complete possession. The fact that theless successful men tend to leave this step out could account in part for their lack ofsuccess. In other words, they are less capable of finishing what they set out to do. Theycan get information but do not use it to full advantage. If this is an accurate assessment,it may provide insight into what ought to be included in a typical curriculum for theundereducated or illiterate learner.The following responses provide an interesting overview of how these men viewlearning. They recognize the need of a source:144In the first place, I try to get in contact with someone that has a knowledge of it andthen I ask questions, and I'm a great learner. (Subject 6)Older people have so much knowledge. If you don't talk to older people, you'rereally missing the boat, I find. (Subject 27)If I think someone else has done it well, I'll talk to them about it and then I'll get amanual and I'll go over. Usually, if it's a piece of equipment, I like to do it. If Ihave a problem or I can't figure it out, then I'll go to the guy that's experienced. Iask a lot of questions. (Subject 16)[I] find myself someone that knows that subject and drill him or her about it. (Subject27)They recognize the importance of certain skills:You need to know what questions to ask. (Subject 5)Most of the stuff is by watching how someone else did it. (Subject 25)Always pay attention to others and hear what they say. (Subject 34)They use alternatives readily:I'm a great news watcher; I learn a ton from the TV. (Subject 27)Subject 15 summarizes the idea of a plan:If I see something new and I want to learn, I see if I can get a few notes on it orsomething I can study to make sure I know a few things about it. Then I try to put itall together. I sit down; I think about it and I try to work it all into one little bankfor myself. Then I'd try to get a chance to play around with it. (Subject 15)They value learning:The day I don't learn something new is a wasted day for me. (Subject 16)In summary, the more successful illiterate men appear to have more ways to learnthings, to be more inclined to seek expert advice, to make mistakes willingly as a part of145learning, and to employ a more complex and complete learning plan. They appear moreexperienced and adept as learners.Work EthicOne factor in achieving financial success would appear to be having a regular job.Most of the men in this study manage to keep busy most of the time. Most of the morefinancially successful rarely suffer being unemployed, while collecting social assistancepayments is a more frequent occurrence for men at the lower end of the financial continuum.Responses to the question "Why are so many Canadians out of work?" reveal possibleattitudinal factors in achieving financial success.Table D-61 summarizes responses. Five more successful men mention that it is "easyto get welfare" while none of the less successful do, even though none of the former haveever collected welfare while at least twelve of the latter have done so at one time or another.The comment coming from more successful subjects thus seems pejorative; the idea ofcollecting welfare is unacceptable to them.Perceptions of personal shortcomings also differ here. The more successful men citelaziness, arrogance, or diffidence as factors contributing to an inability to find work, whilethe less successful cite illiteracy as a major handicap. Interestingly, their blaming ofilliteracy appears to reflect more the typical societal view that one needs literacy than anypersonal sense of illiteracy's being the cause of their own problems. Indeed, they seeilliteracy more as someone else's problem. More successful men focus on internal causes:"They haven't got no pride in themselves, otherwise they wouldn't be looking for a handout"146or "You haven't got to be afraid to work" (Subject 7); the less successful often cite externalfactors or things beyond their control such as government policy.The views expressed on this issue support the idea that these are proud men, unafraidof work and generally unwilling to relinquish their responsibilities to anyone else. By andlarge, people become successful, literate or not, by exhibiting these qualities.Alternatives to Reading and WritingBeing successful in literate society means being able to function as an equal member.To do so requires the use of alternative ways of doing the things literacy facilitates,specifically communicating but also organizing ideas (thinking) and fitting in.Interviewees' views on alternatives are presented under the following headings: Thingsan Illiterate Person Has to Be Better at, Things I Am Better at, and Strategies for Fitting in.Things an Illiterate Person Has to Be Better atForemost among the things an illiterate person has to be better at, from theinterviewees' points of view, are communicating and thinking; each accounts for twenty-fiveper cent of responses. A high priority is thus placed on abilities typically associated withliteracy yet, in this case, clearly not dependent on literacy since although most of theinterviewees have tried literacy courses, they have not learned to read very well.A third ability involves fitting in and accounts for fifteen per cent of the responses.Considered in combination with the first two abilities, the implication is that to function, onemust be good at things which allow one to blend in. People who can communicate would147not be suspected of being uneducated. Perhaps the appearance of literacy can lead to successas well.Things I Am Good atAsking interviewees what they are good at because they can not read or write seems auseful way of comparing their perceptions of ideal versus real. Of interest is thatinterviewees add positive attitudes and working with mechanical things when asked what theythink they are better at (twenty-five and twenty-two per cent respectively). These abilitieswould appear to allow people to function successfully.Categories of response here are working with your hands, positive attitudes, mentalabilities, social skills, communicating (by necessity, primarily oral), observing, and specificjob skills. Memory is included under mental ability but is isolated as a supposed attributepeculiar to illiterate people. The results are presented in Table D-46.The more successful men suggest far more things that they are good at, implying eithera greater mastery of the skills of life on their part, or at least a greater confidence in theiruse of them. In either case, they seem more likely to succeed as a result. The moresuccessful say they are good at being positive, thinking, communicating, and working withtheir hands. The less successful have the same list minus thinking, and add specific jobskills. The less successful men, who respond as often as their more successful counterpartsthat people who can not read and write have to be better at thinking, nevertheless do notclaim to be as good at it as they would like to be. They recognize its importance whileacknowledging their shortcomings. Obviously most interviewees see mental ability as an148important ingredient in success. Complementarily, less successful men more often makemention of job skills, perhaps reflecting overall their more practical, less abstract oracademic, perspective on matters requiring improvement.Strategies for Fitting inIf these men believe in the need to fit in and in the need to appear literate, it stands toreason they would have ways of doing so. Their strategies are presented as strategies forhiding their illiteracy, for acquiring information, and for transmitting information.Strategies For Hiding Illiteracy. Twice during each interview subjects were asked howthey keep other people from finding out that they can not read or write. Forty-three differentstrategies are mentioned in all and are grouped in Table D-47 under the following headings:unobtrusive strategies that capitalize on normal human interactions, including conversation;avoidance strategies that duck the challenge or intimidation of literacy-sensitive situations;deception strategies that involve lying; support strategies involving the use of notebooks;other people who help (this group is subdivided into those who know they are helping andthose who don't); assistance strategies that allow one to ask for help without admittingweakness; and finally, guessing.These men do not appear to have difficulty thinking of ways to keep others fromrecognizing their illiteracy. They should fit in easily. One difference of note exists betweenthe more and less financially successful. Apparently the more successful men are more oftencalled upon to keep their illiteracy hidden. Just over half of the less successful men, incontrast, say that they do not have to hide their handicap or do not bother to. Perhaps the149lives of the more successful men lead them into more frequent contact with literate society;they are challenged to adopt creative strategies as a result. This increased contact may berelated to the higher confidence level among the more successful men.The more successful men are also twice as likely to mention the use of notebooks,perhaps another aspect of their increased sophistication in dealing with their illiteracy.Strategies For Acquiring Information.  A summary of the alternatives to readingemployed by subjects in this study is provided in Table D-48. A total of twenty-onealternatives are mentioned one hundred and seventeen times (one half involve direct oralcommunication). No shortage of access to information exists for these men. Interestingly,spouses figure into only seven per cent of suggested alternatives. Instead, most commonamong the most financially successful men include asking (twenty-seven per cent), observing(twelve per cent), and television and radio (twenty per cent). These figures are indisagreement with suggestions that illiterate men are often dependent on literate wives.Strategies For Transmitting Information. Alternatives to writing employed by theinterviewees are presented in Table D-49. Fifteen are mentioned fifty-six times (half requireoral proficiency). Fewer alternatives exist for writing but generally speaking, the populationas a whole is required to write less than to read. This is largely because literacy is primarilya passive activity for most people. Few people have access to ways of expressing themselvesin a written form. Still, these men seem adequately able to transmit information although agreater tendency to depend on wives is evident. This is especially true among the moresuccessful men. Notwithstanding the fact that the more successful men are more likely to bemarried, they also may logically have more frequent recourse to their wives for assistance150with necessary written communications (as compared to the more passive demands ofreading). Table C-8 lists all jobs requiring literacy. The assistance of spouses would behelpful in jobs such as club president, union steward, and politician, as well as running amail-order business and preparing contracts.If one is not literate, it makes sense that in order to fit into and be successful in aliteracy-based society, one would have to appear literate. The men in this study, especiallythe financially successful, have a good sense of what is required to fit in. In addition, theyare aware of their competencies and have developed strategies for coping. They know howto function and be successful.SuccessAlthough conventional definitions of this elusive goal abound, the definitions key to thisstudy are the ones developed from the collective perceptions of the subjects themselves. Thecriteria of steady employment and an annual income above the Canadian average of $30,000are adopted because they reflect commonly perceived views of success; however, anyinterpretations of success intended to justify literacy programs need to take the views of theprogram clients into account.Two questions aim directly at collecting interviewees' interpretations of success. Theyare "How does one achieve success?" and "What is success or being successful?"151How to Achieve SuccessTable D-56 groups the responses according to ends (what success is) and means (waysof achieving success, attitudes, mental abilities, physical abilities, and other people whohelp).Working hard, being honest, being ambitious, trying your best and having drive are theattitudes most frequently mentioned by the most successful men. Their tendency to acceptresponsibility is supported by the fact that three-quarters of their suggestions (as against halffor the less successful men) deal with attitudes towards self and others. They believe inquality of work:Ah, because I do my job, I've not been threw out yet. You know, I do my job thebest way I can and if nobody likes the way I do it, well they can shove it. (Subject 1)You have to have a good product that the public wants. The person you're selling tohas to believe you. You have to be an expert at what you're doing. (Subject 27)You have to be known as a worker. He have to make up his mind what he want todo. If he goin' out lookin' for a job with the attitude that he want to make $15 anhour, that's gonna be bad for him cause a lot of times it's hard to find a job where aperson's gonna pay you right off the street $15 an hour. I think that's the badattitude. Cause if you get started into a place first, I think the first thing to my pointof view is that you gotta get in the door first. You can work yourself up to makin'the money that the person next to you is makin'. I always figured that if he'll startme off at $10, I'm sure I'm gonna to get a raise. Take the job and work on it to getsome experience. Down the road you can apply for a job. I would never turn downa job if I needed it. You need the experience and you're makin' money while you'rethere. (Subject 15)I try to do it just like I would want somebody to do it to me. (Subject 6)They believe in respect:Treat people right and you'll have return business. (Subject 6)152If you respect the guy you work with and try to help him, in return he'll do the samefor you. I can give advice and I can take. [You have to be] fairly honest and .. .try to put in a day's work. (Subject 16)You've got good manners, you can get along anywhere . . . and look like a man notlike some of these things that go out on the road. (Subject 7)They believe in ambition:You've gotta have ambition if you wanta work. You gotta have a little drive behindyou. There's a job there and if you wanta work, you'll take the job regardless ofwhat it is. You take what you can get and look for a better job. You've gotta makeup your mind that you want to do something, and then go do it. I'll try to doanything; I don't care what it is. (Subject 7)It takes ambition and will power to get on in life. Somebody to encourage you. Ifyou've got strength and health, and you have ambition, I don't see why you couldn't[achieve what you want to achieve], because the whole world is there for everybody.No matter rich or poor, there is a place there for everybody. (Subject 29)I said, "Dad, I'm just gonna to do it and that's all there is to it." (Subject 22)They believe in working within their own abilities:Your best friend is the guy in the mirror. Don't go beyond yourself. (Subject 26)Don't overstep your boundaries. (Subject 29)They believe in reliability and honesty:Be reliable and dependable and I would say basically honest. (Subject 22)I guess you gotta just have a goal in life and with a bit of help from others, you meetit. Be honest for one thing, not cheat anybody and you can always go back and dobusiness. (Subject 33)The importance attached to internal qualities supports suggestions made earlier inthis chapter about the apparent willingness of the more successful men to takeresponsibility for who they are and what they do. The emphasis on attitudes suggests thatthese men see achieving success as something removed from the consequences of153previous schooling. Factors other than literacy are more important in achieving success.The views of the more successful men, in fact, harmonize with the positive and confidentway they present themselves in interviews. By comparison, responses by less successfulmen are more tentative:Find it someplace else because I wouldn't be able to explain it. (Subject 20)That's something I couldn't tell you. If somebody offered me a thousand dollars, Istill wouldn't know. (Subject 17)I couldn't answer that cause I don't know if I got skills or what. (Subject 24)And although follow-up questions receive answers in most cases, the less successfulmen seem not as often to respond from their own experience. Some sense of giving theright answer is evident in their responses:To start off to be successful, you'd have to have a home and a wife and kids. That'dbe the first thing I think. (Subject 14)Live life to the fullest -- enjoy yourself though when asked how, the response was 'Idon't know'. (Subject 13)Mostly what anybody would say: money, brains, and looks. (Subject 17)First you need an education. That'd fix everything up right from the start. (Subject17)Gettin a good education. Especially learning how to read and spell right. Today, yougotta have the readin skills. Without them you're not going to get a good job.(Subject 11)You have to be smart and read. (Subject 20)You have to know how to read a little, have a little bit of education. Have a little bitof knowledge. (Subject 35)Make sure you get a good education. Don't get in trouble and stay out of jail.(Subject 39)154The first three responses typify the focus on ends over means that sometimes comesfrom less successful men. Some can not immediately distinguish between success andhow one achieves it. Responses recommending education, moreover, seldom touch onthemes of personal growth or even immediate practicality. Of note is that even thoughmany of the less successful men view success in a fairly detached way, they show fewsigns of depression or fatalism, contrary to popular expectations.What Success IsResponses to what success is appear in Table D-57 and are grouped under stability(things that hinted at balance and lack of pressure or tension), possessions, opinions ofothers, friends, feelings (generally characterized as a state of mind or overall outlook),and being able to read and write.Interviewees provide sixty-nine responses, with stability accounting for forty-six percent, feelings for twenty-five per cent, and possessions for only twelve per cent. Beingable to read and write accounts for a mere four per cent as do others' opinions. By andlarge, it appears that the interviewees measure success more on the basis of what theyfeel they have done than on what other people might think they should have done. Itcould be argued however that being concerned with stability reflects having acceptedsociety's measures. On the other hand, these men, if they have accepted societalstandards, have certainly been quite successful in meeting them in spite of their illiteracy.155The more successful men seem to place a higher value (one and a half times) onfinancial stability and possessions:When you are successful, a few things start comin' your way.I think I have been successful cause I got my house, I got my family, I got my carand I'm workin'. I got a little in the bank. (Subject 15)Success is just being happy. If the guy's happy at doing his job and making themoney he's got, he's got his hobbies and what not -- he's happy, that's okay. (Subject25)If you own your house and you have $10,000 [saved] over your career, you're prettywell off. (Subject 33)Everything's going well; you don't owe nothing, and you make a good profit; I'd sayyou're successful. (Subject 38)They also place much more emphasis (four to one) on feelings like happiness andself-satisfaction than do less successful men:Success to me is not money; success is having friends, having a good marriage -- agood marriage is first no doubt about that, having a good family, having friends,having people you enjoy to be around a lot. (Subject 27)[Success occurs] when you feel comfortable where you're working and with peopleand with life. (Subject 16)I would say success is self-satisfaction, being able to live with yourself, being happyand contented. I wouldn't classify being rich [as being] success[ful]. Having abalanced type of life where you can go out and enjoy yourself and leave the workbehind, and have a lot of fun along with your wife and family -- I would say thatwould be success. I wouldn't say success lies in being a millionaire. I never evenintended to be one. But once you get your way of thinking changed or set in certaindirections, well everything changes. (Subject 22)If you see that you are improving, you are successful. (Subject 29)The more successful men seem higher up the pyramid of Maslow's hierarchy of needs,clearly focusing on matters of self-actualization and self-fulfilment. If, in the end, thedefinition of success (coming from those who, in conventional terms, seem to have it) is156unique to the individual, any causal connection that links basic literacy to success needs to berethought.The men in this study appear to have a clear picture of how one achieves success andwhat it is when you have it. They realize that hard work, ambition, and honesty are the bestways to be successful and their belief in these methods is demonstrated by theirachievements. Their sense of being successful includes living comfortably, being stable,having friends, and being happy. They give the impression in most cases, especially amongthe more successful financially, that they have achieved these to some degree. They do notgive the impression of being unable to achieve or of fearing they can not because they areilliterate. These men appear well adjusted and functioning successfully.SummaryData analysis reveals the following factors of success: having a great sense of pride inpersonal accomplishment, highlighting attitude as a key ingredient in success; having awillingness to take on greater responsibility, including independent businesses and family;feeling in control of life, confident, enthusiastic and optimistic; basing satisfaction on internalfactors; emphasizing the importance of mental skills; attaching little importance to formalschooling (or the lack of it); seeking help frequently when faced with difficult problems;having alternatives for obtaining necessary information and being able to use it onceobtained; being socially active and likely to take leadership roles in clubs and organizations;dealing often, confidently and inventively, with literate society; behaving as a competentlyfunctioning individual.CHAPTER 7THE SUCCESSFUL ILLITERATE MALE -- A PROFILEThis chapter brings together, in profile form, findings that appear to show howeconomically successful illiterate men differ from those who are less successful. Itcompares the profile of the successful illiterate male to the commonly held deficiencyview of illiterate people (struggling to perform basic life skill activities, unable to learn,and suffering from embarrassment and withdrawal from society) that existed when thisstudy was planned and that persists to this day. In addition, it clarifies the relationship ofthese findings to an established stream of research into the perceptions of illiterate peoplebegun by Fingeret (1982a) and added to by various researchers since, including Manning(1984), Sisco (1983), Heisel and Larson (1984), Wood (1984), Beder and Quigley(1990), Horsman (1990), and Ziegahn (1992). This list of related research is larger thanthat presented in the literature review for two reasons. First, earlier researchers such hasSisco and Heisel and Larson were not considered models for the research beingconducted in this study; however, their findings have added to the knowledge base of thisstream of research. Second, the works of Beder, Quigley, Horsman, and Ziegahn arecontemporary to this study with results appearing only slightly ahead of those reportedhere. This brief review provides a reminder of the research that appears to belong in thestream of research finding its origins in Fingeret (1982a).157158This chapter presents these findings and comparisons in the following way. First, abrief description of the stream of research presents the contributions of variousresearchers from Fingeret's beginnings to this researcher's findings. Second, the findingsof this study are presented under three main headings: attitudes, coping skills, anddifferences from the deficiency view. The first two deal primarily with factors whichappear to contribute to economic success. Under attitudes pride, confidence, andresponsibility are discussed while sub-topics of coping skills are learning, alternatives toreading and writing, and social involvement. The third main heading includes discussionof how the findings of this study differ from the common deficiency view about illiteratepeople. Sub-topics include being untroubled by illiteracy, the non-functional nature ofliteracy, and the lack of evidence to support the concept of cyclical poverty anddeprivation. For each sub-topic, findings will be presented in profile form, a comparisonto the deficiency view will be made, and the relationship of this study to the stream ofresearch into illiterate peoples' perceptions will be established. By the end of thechapter, the relationship of this study to both the deficiency perspective and the Fingeret-based stream of research should be clear.The stream of research begun by Fingeret has awakened many researchers to thevalues of speaking directly to illiterate adults in order to determine how they relate toprograms planned for them and to determine their personal perceptions of need. Thefollowing is a brief review of some of the key discoveries of this research. Not all ofthese researchers acknowledge a connection to Fingeret's work; however, through ananalysis of the literature, this writer has recognized similarities, especially since all were159involved in interviewing undereducated and illiterate people and in making discoveriesabout their views and actions.Fingeret's seminal study (1982a) of illiterate people and their perceptions introducedfour ideas to the literature of illiteracy and to this stream of research. The firstconcerned the existence of "cosmopolitan illiterates". On a continuum of involvementwith literate society, "cosmopolitan illiterates" represent those who are most involved;they are adept at decoding the social world. For all intents and purposes, they appear tobe literate and would best fit into Hunter and Harman's Group I (see page 14). Second,she found that most illiterate adults are involved in "social networks" which includeliterate and illiterate members in a reciprocal relationship. These networks are importantfor the competent functioning of most illiterate people. Within these networks exists asense that illiterate people have a perfectly acceptable alternative tool to book learningcalled "common sense" and they are unwilling to risk losing that by becoming literate.Finally Fingeret found that "cosmopolitan" illiterate adults engage in the creation ofsocial networks, take responsibility for their actions, and recognize their potency foreffecting change. They are not dependent. She further identified seven possiblecompetencies for functioning in life: parenting, controlling social agencies, controllingdeviant behaviour, meeting economic needs, identifying and meeting learning needs,being mobile (getting around town), and becoming literate. One need not achieve all tobe competent and literacy is clearly not considered fundamental, only helpful in aliteracy-dominated world. Fingeret's findings have provided the base from which thisstream of research has proceeded.160Although he did not claim to be expanding on Fingeret's line of research, Manning(1984) did augment Fingeret's findings and expand knowledge of a different group ofilliterate adults. He identified a group of "prosperous" illiterates (mostly blackbusinessmen), and concluded that among other things, "knowing the ropes" was acompetency vital to the economic success of his population. He was able to support thehypothesis that illiterate people can get ahead and that literacy is not essential foreconomic success.Although Sisco (1983) did not refer to Fingeret's work, he did make a contributionto this line of research, albeit unintentional. He set out to test Allen Tough's ideas aboutself-directed learning activities by interviewing people having less than a high schooldiploma. He found that even undereducated and supposedly illiterate people carry onlearning activities which they organize themselves. This discovery reinforced the ideathat literacy is not a pre-condition for learning.Heisel and Larson (1984) did not acknowledge a relationship to Fingeret's work;however, while studying the literacy behaviour of elderly blacks, they found that seventy-five per cent of those deemed illiterate because of their grade level achievementsconsidered themselves average or better readers and were relatively satisfied with theirpersonal achievements. These discoveries further questioned the belief that illiteracy is amajor problem which limits the ability to function in society.Although recognizing the importance of Fingeret's work, Wood (1984) primarilyintended to discover a learning theory of intelligence through defining concepts commonto illiterate adults. She did however verify that some illiterate people are proud, hard161working, and involved in their communities and that they do not all experience the shamethat illiterate people reportedly suffer from.Beder and Quigley (1990) conducted research into resistance to participation inAdult Basic Education classes in Iowa and Pennsylvania. Although their primary lines ofresearch dealt with participation, they refer to Fingeret and their findings present usefulinformation about how undereducated people feel about the use of returning to school.Beder found that people tend to resist ABE programs because they see no need for moreeducation while Quigley found that people seem to be resisting because they do not acceptthe normative, middle class orientation of formal schooling. Both of these findings are inagreement with some of Fingeret's findings concerning the value of "common sense" andthe usefulness of schooling.Horsman (1990) makes numerous references to Fingeret and employs a similarapproach for gathering her information. Conducting a study of illiterate women in NovaScotia, she found that while these women exhibited many of the qualities Fingeret haddiscovered (membership in networks, pride in common sense and experience-relatedsolutions, as well as a range of competencies), they were often isolated and held back bya gender-driven social environment which made it difficult for them either-to find workor to participate in upgrading programs. Horsman verified what other researchers in thisline have discovered: the shame illiterate people feel is one that is forced on them andnot one they feel is justified; it is not from within. Horsman's work is especially timelyin that in combination with this researcher's study, it helps illuminate not only the factorsof success but also the difference which may exist within the sub-group of illiterate162adults. For instance, it suggests that illiteracy may not be as crucial a factor insuccessful functioning in society as gender.Ziegahn (1992) employed an interview process with an illiterate study sample toexplore the motivations of adults with low literacy skills toward literacy and learning. Ininterviewing twenty-seven illiterate adults, she found that learning was not necessarilyassociated with schooling and that, in fact, illiterate people had little desire to return formore schooling in the form of literacy classes. Moreover, they did not readily associateliteracy with any particular functional need they faced. Her findings corroborate thefindings of Fingeret and others that illiterate people do not necessarily accept the commonbelief that being literate is a key to success.In many ways, Fingeret's work remains the most authoritative and comprehensivein this stream of research. Others have either validated ideas or provided a closer look ata particular sub-group. With this in mind, most references of comparison will involveFingeret's work although Manning's study of "prosperous" men is also closely related.As other references are justified, they will be employed.The research reported in this dissertation is very much a part of the stream ofresearch begun by Fingeret (1982a), but it focuses on a smaller group within the sub-group of illiterate adults, and it primarily presents a profile of an economically successfulilliterate adult. As a result, it provides, in one place, a snapshot of the qualities andpractices that appear to lead to economic success apart from being literate. Thus, thequalities and practices defined here should provide useful information for those whowould plan programs primarily aimed at improving people's opportunities for income and163job security. Some of the findings support those of earlier researchers while othersappear to suggest a different direction; all of the findings challenge the too commonlyheld belief in the deficiency of illiterate adults.The composite picture of the typical, successful illiterate male that emerges from thedata collected for this study is not one that would appear within the "broad spectrum" ofilliterate adults described by Hunter and Harman (1979); nor does it reflect the profile ofan illiterate person created by the popular press, government, or business (Wellborn1982; Washington 1983; Calamai 1987a; Ontario Ministry of Skills Development 1988;and Wood 1988). Instead, it is a profile of a person very much in control of his life,with a great sense of pride and responsibility, and an awareness of the expectationsplaced on him by a literate world. It is also a profile of a person with exceptional oralskills and inventive and effective strategies for living, working, and succeeding in thischallenging environment. Indeed, this typical successful illiterate male is one whoseability to succeed in a world dominated by literate people has much to teach others aboutwhat it takes to be successful. A picture of the successful illiterate male as he emergesfrom this study is therefore fashioned here.AttitudesAttitude appears to be a major factor contributing to economic success. Thesuccessful illiterate man in this study has a positive outlook based on a sense of self-control and awareness of his place in society as a whole. He is not withdrawn, but an164active participant. Three attitudes apparently affecting his approach to life are pride,confidence, and responsibility.PrideIn contrast to the hopelessness inherent in the Hunter and Harman categories, thesuccessful illiterate man in this study seems generally infused by a sense of pride. Anydifficulties with schooling do not cast a shadow on the balance of his outlook. Neitherdoes not being able to read provide any particular burden. He is a hopeful citizen.His life has had its ups and downs and has included mistakes but he does not appearat all eager to change anything about it. He is quite satisfied with the person that he hasbecome. He can judge what he does according to his own standard of excellence anddoes not depend on others for verification or justification. His ability to both recognizeand achieve excellence gives him the initiative to embrace new challenges and attain newgoals. He is proud of his accomplishments and possessions, his family and personalachievements, and his special qualities and skills.The deficiency view. The successful man in this study does not fit the descriptionof illiterate people common among those who accept the deficiency view. He is notembarrassed except insofar as he can determine that other people might think less of himbecause he is illiterate. This however is entirely due to a realization that he is the victimof a type of stereotyping. He knows he has no real reason to be embarrassed. He isproud of what he has achieved and counts himself as worthwhile as any other person.165Because he does not accept this deficiency interpretation, he is unlikely either toacknowledge or respond to pressure to learn to read or complete any program he joins.Research into illiterate perceptions. Although not all of Fingeret's subjects wereproud to the same degree as the men in this study, their belief in the value of "commonsense" indicates a valuing of their views and values as compared to those of the literatesociety, the "book learning" group. Certainly her group of "cosmopolitan illiterates"would be similar. Manning found this sense of pride in his men as did Wood who sawconsiderable pride in home, family, friends, learning, community activities, and work.This study shows that this sense of pride continues to be constant among illiteratepeople. Moreover, since even the less successful felt it, it would appear to be unrelatedspecifically to being well off. It would appear that illiterate people are unlikely to returnto school if they are told they are inferior, as many ads for literacy classes tend to do.ConfidenceSuccess and self-confidence seem inseparable companions; each feeds the other. Thesuccessful man in this study is confident about his abilities and often unafraid to face thedemands of literate society on his own.He possesses a sense of purpose and an awareness of who he is and how he fits in.His confidence stems from a belief in his intelligence, his strength of will, and hisexperiences. As he reviews his life, he sees a complex interrelationship of events,people, and personal qualities that have affected him. He realizes that no one thing isresponsible for shaping his life, but he tends to emphasize his own attitudes believing that166through his pride, ambition, and strength of will, he has control over his life and is notsimply shaped by the impact of events or the actions of others. Negativity is rarely apart of his perspective. He is confident that he can meet any challenge and has a widerange of interests and corresponding skills.He is capable of a variety of jobs, from general labour, to skilled craft work, toindependent entrepreneur and is willing to work at or try virtually anything to get ahead.Yet while willing to bend in order to create opportunity and make sure that his family'sbasic needs are met, he is aware of the importance of job satisfaction. He is a hardworker and often receives and usually accepts offers of advancement and does well inspite of the apparent literacy requirements that a new position may entail. His work isfrequently complex and may involve having to run complicated machines, followmanuals, fill out forms, study memos, collect dues, fill orders, or deal with literateprofessionals.If challenges are not forthcoming, he seeks them out. In these endeavours he is notbothered by shortcomings customarily thought of as limitations. As a result, he oftenplays a leadership role in the organizations to which he belongs and is not inhibited bymemos and letters or constitutions and minutes. In addition, he is often involved in hisown business where he hires accountants, lawyers, secretaries, and salespeople whoprovide, on his behalf, the crucial functions that the literate world demands. Here too,he is usually successful. In both his social and workplace involvement, he is called uponto interact extensively with members of the community-at-large. In this respect, his167network of social contacts is wide and varied. It may include people with far greaterliteracy skills than he.The chief threats to his confidence are his fears concerning public opinion about hisformal schooling and the difficulty he might have in acquiring literacy-related skills. Hiscomplicated strategies for hiding his illiteracy would seem to indicate that he is aware ofhow society in general views illiterate people; however, even though he acknowledgesother people's opinions and sometimes takes them into account as useful, seldom doexternal requirements dictate his behaviour.The deficiency view. According to the deficiency view, illiterate people are oftenwithdrawn, secretive, and unable to do the things that literate people do. Most of themen in this study are fairly confident and far from withdrawn and most survive handily ineveryday life. The successful are exceptional in their confidence. There is nothingoutside of schooling they will not try and they are active in society to the extent that theyrun for office in social associations and sometimes political ones. They are not reflectiveof the deficiency view.Research into illiterate perceptions. Fingeret found that on a continuum ofdependence, the "cosmopolitan illiterates" were very independent; however, theirindependence was enhanced by their "social networks". At the same time this group wasmost able to accommodate change in their network system and could even accommodateits breaking down if necessary. Strength seemed to come from the belief that "commonsense" would stand them in good stead when dealing with the literate world. BothManning and Wood echo the importance of confidence with Manning pointing out that his168"prosperous" men knew they were competent and found their confidence helped themdeal with the negativity they sometimes faced from outside.This research on successful illiterate men supports earlier discoveries of theimportance of confidence and offers some insights into its nature and cause. First, thenature of the successful man's intellectual confidence is more clearly defined. It isapparent he has a systematic plan for learning that involves three to four steps. He is anexcellent problem solver. Perhaps the best evidence of his confidence in mental capacityis his willingness to make mistakes. Typically, people must have a strong sense of trustin their ability to allow themselves to grow through making mistakes. Finally, thesuccessful men frequently mention their mental powers as something they were proud of.Apparently they do not suffer from any decrease in mental power simply because they donot read and write. As a result, adult education planners might recognize this ability tothink and act when designing programs. Typically literacy programs are built on theassumption that becoming literate is a prerequisite to other forms of learning. Perhapsthis is why competent, thinking illiterate people drop out so frequently.ResponsibilityA sense of responsibility usually indicates a sense of commitment and succeedingagainst odds usually requires commitment. The successful man in this study isresponsible in all aspects of his life.He is responsible to himself and to his needs and knows that to be otherwise willthreaten his stability and happiness. In spite of his failure with literacy programs, he has169a highly cultivated sense of personal responsibility and is well aware of the combinationof experiences and people in his life that have contributed to that sense of responsibility.This sense of responsibility extends naturally to those he considers important in his life,making him a caring husband and father, a trusted friend, and a valued employee.He is married and is a family man. If he has experienced a marriage break-up, heis likely to have re-married. He has a slightly larger than average family by today'sstandards and will sometimes help his extended family by looking after nieces andnephews who live in less advantageous circumstances. He covers possible familyemergencies through insurance and investments.This typical successful illiterate male meanwhile has rarely, if ever, beenunemployed and is likely to have a stable work record. If faced with a choice betweenworking for less to get started or being out of work, he will work for less; he believes inhis ability to prove his worth given the opportunity. Through his hard work, consistency,and skill, he manages to impress his employer, thereby making him a likely candidate forperiodic promotions. Regardless of his employment, he takes his work seriously andstrives to be the best that he can be at whatever he does. However, if he finds his jobinadequate to meet the needs of his family or his own potential, he will seek somethingnew but would rarely, if ever, place his family in financial difficulty in the process. Hedoes not become a slave to a job even though he will work at most anything to avoidbeing without one. At times, he will carry two jobs to meet a family need.He considers it important to keep his promises, tries not to be late or to miss workif at all possible, and quits a job only if he has another, or if he finds the one he has170intolerable. Even if he quits a job before having obtained another, his confidence andcommitment are such that he could never imagine himself unemployed for any length oftime. Typically his view of the Canadian unemployed is that they are too lazy and thatwelfare is too easy to get.The deficiency view. Although literacy workers and program planners do notopenly suggest that illiterate people are irresponsible, the suggestion that they somehowneed to become literate to function in society implies that it is something they shouldhave done before. Thus it puts blame squarely on their shoulders. It asks them to acceptresponsibility for this past error in judgement and to correct it now. The successful menin this study are nothing if they are not responsible. Their range of responsibilityincludes being responsible to themselves, to family, to work, and to the community atlarge. They accept their responsibility for past actions and for future directions.Interestingly, this sense of responsibility does not translate into acceptance of their havingmissed something terribly important by not becoming literate. Nor do they accept thenecessity of becoming literate.Research into illiterate perceptions. Fingeret found that her population generallyfelt that each person should be responsible for his or her actions and attitudes. She alsofound that those who were less responsible were not very successful within theirrespective networks. Since the networks were based on reciprocation, this seems alogical result. Manning's "prosperous" men believed hard work and making a goodimpression by being honest, conscientious, and trustworthy were important to success inlife.171Corroborating Fingeret's and Manning's findings, this study shows that thesuccessful illiterate man has a highly developed and extensive sense of responsibility thathe carries with him wherever he goes. Being responsible is clearly important tosuccessful functioning, at least economically. What this study adds is a comprehensiverange of attitudes related to being responsible not found in the other studies. As a result,it offers several possible values that might be incorporated in programs expecting to helppeople get jobs and become economically independent.Summary Comments on AttitudesThe findings of this study not only corroborate the findings of earlier studies on theattitudes of some illiterate people, but also they expand and enlarge the understanding ofthe complex of attitudes. As a result, this study offers a clearer and more detailedpicture of what is associated with the economic success of illiterate men.Coping SkillsNo matter how confident an illiterate person may be, the reality of the dominanceof literacy in society must be faced. The successful man in this study deals with theexpectations of literate society effectively through his learning abilities, his alternatives toreading and writing, and through his active involvement in the larger society.172LearningProgressing in life usually means making changes and making change involveslearning. The successful man in this study has progressed and has made many changes;he is an able learner with proven strategies at his disposal.It appears that he has an especially fine, even subtle, awareness of how individualslearn through observation, listening, and practice, and consistently embraces thesemethods in his own learning experiences. A good learner, his habits in gathering theinformation he needs involve three conventional steps: finding the source, acquiring theknowledge, and applying it to the task at hand. Perhaps his greatest strength as a learneris a willingness to make mistakes, trial and error are his most useful and comfortablemethods of learning. In addition, his problem-solving skills are superior. He learnsquickly in the work environment and most of the time, he will try to do or learn virtuallyanything. Through all of this, his learning methods are practical and action-oriented; heseldom contemplates returning to school to learn.The deficiency view. Common belief is that literacy precedes effective learning; itis a precondition. This belief is demonstrated by the existence of literacy training at thebeginning of a child's education and by the forced enrolment of returning adults in basicliteracy or English classes if their literacy skills are not deemed sufficient for enrolmentin higher level courses. The successful illiterate man in this study is a learner but onewho functions outside of the restrictions of formal schooling and literacy preconditions.The fact that he organizes complicated learning strategies and seems quite capable of thecomplex thinking required for problem solving would appear to indicate that society's173belief in the essential nature of literacy as a precondition for learning is incorrect. Atbest, literacy may be a precondition for learning in formal school-based settings, but thismay be so only because those systems have been developed on that very assumption.Research into illiterate perceptions. Fingeret found that illiterate adults were ableto identify learning needs and then find a source for the information they required.Manning suggested that his "prosperous" men preferred to observe experts and practiseor learn on their own using trial and error. Sisco found that uneducated learn on aregular basis outside of the school setting and Ziegahn found that learners were actuallyenthusiastic as long as learning was not associated with schooling. For Fingeret's group,the "network" was an important learning resource with illiterate people receiving andgiving instruction alternately. Learning on the job was a regular occurrence.This study endorses the findings of previous studies and also suggests that the moresuccessful man has a definite learning plan including at least three of the following steps:finding a source, gathering information, practising, and using the skill or idea. Thisfinding suggests that the learning of successful illiterate men is not haphazard orserendipitous but orderly and carefully planned.Alternatives to Reading and WritingBeing successful in literate society means being able to function as an equalmember. The successful illiterate man's important and continual interactions with literatesociety, based on oral forms of communication, are ingenious and sophisticated and so174personable is his style that one would find it impossible to distinguish him in a group ashaving ever been touched by the stigma of illiteracy.Particularly inventive in this process are the means by which he disguises hisilliteracy including note books, card indexes, tape recordings, photographs, spelling lists,and expert advice. His range of alternatives in seeking out information and his plannedapproach to learning keep him generally well informed; unafraid of admitting ignorance,he has access to many sources and wants to have the best ideas available. While hisalternatives to reading include seeking help, working harder, being independent andabsorbing information from radio and television, his alternatives to writing includeseeking help and using the telephone.Ultimately, his illiteracy has caused him to develop a number of alternative skillsand abilities. Prominent among these are oral facility, observation, high standards ofworkmanship, and critical thinking. Though many consider the first and last of these tobe the exclusive purview of literate society, such is not the case. His illiteracy welldisguised, his awareness of cause and effect well learned, his social skills finely honed,he works hard at assimilating.The deficiency view. According to the deficiency view, illiteracy is a handicapthat most illiterate people find overwhelming thus rendering them unable to cope with thedemands of literate society and even their own daily lives. The results of this studysuggest this is far from the case for the successful illiterate man. He develops manyalternatives to literacy and functions well in an often hostile environment. He sees hisilliteracy as having benefitted him in that it has forced him to learn new things and made175him a more balanced learner. As a result of his many alternatives he has becomevirtually indistinguishable and moves comfortably among his numerous literate associates.Far from overwhelmed, he faces life's challenges with anticipation.Research into illiterate perceptions.  Both Fingeret and Manning speak in generalterms of how illiterate people read or "decode" their social environment or "learn theropes". Manning suggests that when his men found illiteracy a problem, they sought analternative. He suggests they had a number of these. Both agree that speaking skillsstand their "cosmopolitan" or "prosperous" people in good stead.This study identified and recorded twenty-one potential alternatives to reading andfifteen potential alternatives to writing used by illiterate men as substitutes for literacyskills. With these skills in hand, the successful illiterate man is able to read his worldand act competently according to its rules. It is unlikely that people with thesecapabilities will turn up for literacy classes and even the less successful men have somealternatives. Literacy program planners might attract more participants if they couldrecognize the skills these potential learners could bring to courses and not be adamantthat literacy is a prerequisite for either learning or functioning in society.Social InvolvementActive social involvement would appear to be indicative of the existence ofsuccessful coping skills along with a heightened sense of confidence and responsibility.This typical successful illiterate male is socially involved in church, community, orservice groups where he often plays a leadership role and is not inhibited by literacy-176related requirements. He appears to have strong ties within the community and is wellrespected by his peers. He participates in the political process as a voter, a lobbyist, or apolitician. He genuinely enjoys being with people and sharing ideas; his illiteracy isirrelevant. While he enjoys a wide range of recreations, with a particular focus on theoutdoors and a preference for solitary or small group activities, he also enjoys outgoingpeople, has mostly literate friends, and appreciates the freedom that a degree of financialsuccess has brought him.The deficiency view. The deficiency view would not accommodate men who arehighly functional as citizens and as leaders at the societal level. The successful man inthis study is at ease in a social context and is not troubled by potential problems hisilliteracy might cause. In this respect he is unlike the withdrawn and embarrassedindividual mentioned earlier in this dissertation.Research into illiterate perceptions. Fingeret alone made extensive reference to thesocial involvement of the people in her study. Her primary reference was to theexistence of "social networks"; however, she also found that a person's status wasdependent on his or her personal qualities and actions and that the "cosmopolitanilliterates" had extensive interaction within the communities they were a part of.Surprisingly though, she found many of them tended not to vote in elections.On the other hand, this study found that the successful illiterate man is not onlyactive socially but also takes a leadership role. If he has an identifiable network, and thisis not clear from the data, it is similar to that Fingeret described with her"cosmopolitans". It was wider and more varied and unrestricted by geography. If177networks exist for the men in this study, they are made up exclusively of literate peopleexcept for those met at literacy courses. In addition, the successful man in this studyclaims to be more active politically than did the members of either Fingerers orManning"s groups. Not only does he vote but he may run for office or become anadvocate for either himself or some group.Summary Comments on Coping StrategiesThe coping strategies identified in this study validate those found by previousresearchers and add the following: an apparent plan for learning, a list of alternatives toreading and writing employed by successful men, and a sense of political activity notfound in past studies.Differences from the Deficiency ViewThe deficiency view describes illiterate adults as ashamed of their illiteracy andwanting to eliminate it, as realizing the usefulness of literacy as a path to success, and asbeing the result of or contributing to the persistence of cycles of poverty, illiteracy, anddeprivation. The findings of this study face these beliefs head-on, and find themwanting.178Untroubled By Being IlliterateGenerally, illiterate adults are assumed to be aware of their illiteracy and to want toeliminate it (Hunter and Harman 1979). In addition, it is expected they will havedifficulty functioning without being literate.In fact, though the successful illiterate man in this study may not be proud of hislack of education and inability to read and write, he rarely expresses concern about anynegative effects this might have had on his life. Although he remembers his educationalexperience as having been uncomfortable and is somewhat unwilling to repeat thatexperience, he does not see illiteracy as having influenced his ambition or achievement.He is likely to see his lack of education in fact as having made a positive contributionsince through compensating for his shortcomings he has become a stronger and morecapable person.Most often, he works in a job that many would consider impossible for an illiterateperson although he might find the literacy requirement minimal. He plays a leadershiprole in the organizations to which he belongs, and is not inhibited by literacyrequirements he may face there.Once he has joined a literacy program, he will be unlikely to stay with it, and willrarely become literate as a result of any program. His leaving will, however, probablybe the result of other commitments, though he is also likely to admit to his own lack ofaptitude before complaining about the teaching or other aspects of the course.His ideas of success are, in the end, very personal and untouched by the general belief inthe necessity of literacy.179Research into illiterate perceptions. All of the researchers in this line of researchfound that generally, illiterate people were less troubled by their illiteracy than might beexpected. Fingeret found that many feared losing their valued "common sense" if theybecame literate and that as they aged, their perception of need grew less. Those whowere embarrassed were mainly so because of their perceived devaluation by literatesociety. Finally, when they chose to join literacy classes, it was because their lives hadchanged. Manning's "prosperous illiterates" found that illiteracy was only a slightannoyance and if they needed help with reading, it was just part of life. They were notembarrassed by their illiteracy and would simply farm literacy work out if they ownedtheir own business. If they were working for others, they rarely found the literacyrequirement beyond their ability. Heisel and Larson found that only twenty per cent oftheir population would bother to take a literacy course. Although Wood found somepeople who were embarrassed, their reaction was to others' opinions and not an internalfeeling of inadequacy. Finally Beder found that many felt no need to become literate andthat as in Fingeret's study, perceived need decreased with increased age.This study corroborates the findings of earlier studies in this line. What it adds isinformation on how this successful man reacts to literacy courses he is involved in.Fifty-five per cent of those who left did so because they felt no compelling reason tostay. Thirty-two per cent left because of poor teaching. Finally only twenty-one per centwould take another course. It appears that these men are making a considered decisionabout the role of literacy or at least literacy programs in their lives. They are not actingout of ignorance or because they are misinformed. It is well known that many illiterate180people do not avail themselves of literacy programs and thanks to researchers like Bederand Quigley their reasons are being revealed. The findings of this study offer newinsight into the inadequacy of courses from the words of people who have attempted tocomplete them. Simply put, they do not meet the needs of some illiterate people.Non-functional Nature of LiteracyLiteracy programs are usually offered because of what is perceived by the literatesociety to be their inherent functional value. The typical successful illiterate man doesnot share this popular view. Since his lack of literacy has not noticeably impaired hisprogress, and since he uses oral communication extensively and well, he has troubleseeing ways it could make things better. Clearly, he does not see a strong relationship inhis life between literacy and getting along in the workplace. Still, he tries literacyprograms, but his aims in studying to become literate are more likely to satisfy a desireto read for sheer pleasure than for some instrumental reason.Research into illiterate perceptions. Generally, previous researchers have foundthat illiterate people do not perceive an essential functional use for literacy. Many ofFingeret's people felt literacy was an inflated currency. Manning, Heisel and Larson,and Wood found that most people felt they were functioning well enough without literacy.If people did join classes they tended to do so because, as in Fingeret's case, they hadalready begun the process of change in their lives or had other supporting competenciesthat literacy could complement or, as in Ziegahn's case, because they wanted to read forpleasure not functionality.181This study found that the successful illiterate men resist completing literacyprograms or re-enroling in them because they see no apparent need for literacy. Instead,they are more inclined to want to read for pleasure. Along with the findings of earlierresearchers, this would appear to indicate that courses are still primarily offered in theinstrumental mode and may not be meeting the perceived needs of groups of illiteratepeople who are functioning well enough without being literate.No Cycles of Deprivation, Illiteracy or PovertyFrequently illiteracy is thought to be the result of cross-generational cycles ofpoverty or deprivation (Levine 1982). The successful man in this study does not validatethis assumption.Most often he has fond memories of his family. Although neither of his parents isvery likely to have completed high school, he believes that both are able to read andwrite reasonably well, certainly well enough to function competently in literate society.Although this man remembers his mother primarily as a homemaker, he also recalls heroccasionally working outside of the home in order to supplement the family income.This income is earned by his father who is usually a labourer, skilled craftsman, orbusinessman.His children are likely to complete high school and often go on to complete collegeor university. Even though he himself has little formal education, he sets an excellentexample for them through his commitment to seeing things through to completion, hisleadership skills, his community involvement, his mastery of life skills, his values, and182his interest and ability in learning new things. In addition, he is able to functioncompetently in literate society and therefore does not give them excuses for acceptingfailure or embracing any conventional stigma unworthy of them. Once they havecompleted school, his children usually do well in the workplace. They are rarelyunemployed and frequently seek jobs in service areas, as skilled workers, or asprofessionals. A number often follow their fathers and become entrepreneurs. Thesechildren appear inclined to be self-motivated with an initiative and desire to fulfil theirpotential. They therefore reflect their fathers' talents and attitudes.Research into illiterate perceptions. None of the earlier researchers in this streamof research addresses the issue of cycles of deprivation, illiteracy, and poverty directly;however, Fingeret and Manning discuss some of the related factors. Fingeret reports thather interviewees claim most parents could read as could most of their siblings. Inaddition, these people provided supportive homes for their own children. Manning foundthat most of his men came from poor but very supportive homes where they were taughtto be confident and responsible. None of their own children were dropouts.In this study, the successful illiterate man exhibits no evidence of cyclicaldeprivation of any kind. He comes from a supportive environment where both parentsread and in turn has created a supportive environment for his children most of whom arehigh school graduates and have regular work. It would appear that cycles of deprivationmay not be directly related to illiteracy as a causal factor. This study documents in amuch more specific way the way these men do not fit the stereotyped image of cycles.183As a result, it should point those who would explain recurring poverty in differentdirections away from the easy answer of illiteracy.Summary Comments on Differences from the Deficiency ViewThe findings of this study contradict three common aspects of the deficiency view.First, successful illiterate men are generally untroubled by their illiteracy but even anumber of the less successful men are relatively unconcerned; this lack of concern issupported by the research of others. Second, very few illiterate men consider literacy tohave an important functional value; instead, they are more interested in learning to readfor the pleasure it might provide, and choose to employ oracy as their main instrumentalcommunication form. Third, the evidence from this study contradicts completely theconcept of cross-generational cycles of deprivation, poverty, and illiteracy.SummaryThe profile of a successful illiterate man presented in this chapter offers a distinctcontradiction to the image of illiteracy that is the deficiency view. Contrary to this toocommon view, the successful illiterate man identified in this study is proud andunembarrassed by his illiteracy and sees no particular reason for joining literacy coursesin the future since he has already attended a literacy class and has concluded that it willbe of little practical use to him. He is confident, outgoing and active and feels a strongsense of responsibility to himself, his family, and his community. He is often a leader in184society and in his work. An active, organized learner, he has many alternatives toliteracy that help him meet the demands created by a literate society. As a result he isunworried about being illiterate except for a possible desire to read just for pleasure. Heis clearly not the result nor the cause of a cyclical state of poverty or deprivation.This study, in relation to the line of research begun by Fingeret, confirms some ofthe earlier findings of related researchers and offers some new insights into the views ofilliterate people as well as some useful ways of organizing data for future researchers orwriters who are interested in aspects of the profile of the successful illiterate male.Findings of others confirmed by this study include verification that illiterate people areproud, confident in their abilities to work and learn, responsible for their own lives andactions, able to learn, able to employ alternatives to reading and writing (most requiringsome form of oral communication), socially involved, untroubled by their illiteracy,unconvinced of literacy's value to them, and generally not mired in cyclical poverty.The following are the new insights offered by this study. First, a clear definition ofhow these successful men organize their learning process is provided. These men usuallyhave a plan for learning which involves at least three steps from among identifying aneed, finding a source of information, gaining information, and employing thatinformation. Second, an extended picture of the range of responsibilities affecting theiroutlook on life, including being responsible to self, family, friends, work, and communityis drawn. Third, a comprehensive list of alternatives to reading and writing corroborates,in one place, many of the alternatives identified by other researchers but also providessome idea of the popularity and usefulness of specific alternatives. This information185might help learners who may never be able to learn to read or write. Fourth, this studyindicates that successful illiterate men are more socially and politically active than otherresearchers have found to be the case among illiterate people. Fifth, an analysis ofreasons why successful illiterate men either drop out of or may choose not to enrol inliteracy courses is provided. This information combined with data on why successfulmen are economically successful provides insights into what may be missing in presentliteracy interventions if a goal is to attract all illiterate people to these courses. Sixth, anindication that successful illiterate men may value reading as a source of pleasure over itsinstrumental functions is presented here. This suggests that perhaps all illiterate peopledo not accept the literate society's view of the innate functionality of being literate.Thus, they are unlikely to respond to advertising that suggests this as a primary reasonfor learning to read. Seventh, this study denies the possibility that illiteracy must lead tocycles of poverty and deprivation or vice versa. Finally, this study brings together in oneplace data on the perceptions of illiterate people and arranges these data on a continuumof economic success. As a result, for the first time, other researchers and programplanners have easy access to an overview of factors that may lead to success inemployment and gaining income. The implications of these data are discussed in the nextchapter.CHAPTER 8GENERAL SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND IMPLICATIONSThis study's purpose and conclusions will be well served if they challenge squarelyand credibly traditional views about illiterate people; contribute to the field in a positiveand qualitative way; suggest new directions for literacy research and planning; andpresent clear implications for interest groups concerned with the issue, especially mediaand government personnel, literacy workers, researchers, and the general public.The Broad Perspective of the Popular View of IlliteracyThough illiterate men in this study tend to be relatively untouched by the need forliteracy, the literate world around them continues its urgent mission. A recent article inthe Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Swart 1990), for instance, still emphasizes the negative:"More tutors are needed: Volunteers can stem the tide of illiteracy" reads the title,followed by text that emphasizes the social costs of illiteracy. Written by a member ofthe K-W Literacy Council and placed on their behalf in a special continuing educationsupplement intended to advertise programs for fall sessions, the text goes on to say thatIt [illiteracy] has burst through the fabric of our society, revealing itself in millionsspent on remedial education, in employment compensation for dismissed, functionallyilliterate workers, in accidents caused by drivers who cannot read signs, and hospitalcare because medication instructions are beyond the comprehension of many. . . . andlet us not forget the demoralizing shame and bitterness. (C2)186187The consequences of allowing illiteracy to continue are many, the article goes on to say,from business costs to general and individual demoralization. With unfortunateexaggeration, it states that large numbers of people are unable to live ordinary lives, sodeficient are they as citizens, workers, and family members.Not surprisingly, public policy and programming continue to describe illiteratepeople as inferior. As a result, literacy programs are presented as instrumental solutionsto basic difficulties, unhelpful to the kind of person met in this study: one whose level ofsuccess and self-esteem lead him to literacy courses as an optional act of self-fulfilment,where reading for pleasure is a personal, recreational goal. Were program planners to bemore informed, courses might meet with responses beyond the current levels. Thepriority in research and planning must clearly be with the increased awareness of a newimage of illiterate people and a new way of serving them.The Study: Summary, Contributions, and LimitationsThis section briefly summarizes the research process, describes contributions made,and points out some of the study's limitations.Summary of the Research ProcessForty illiterate men (with a reading level below grade three), having achievedvarying degrees of success based on fairly conventional criteria of income andemployment records, were identified and interviewed. Identification was carried outthrough media contacts, referrals from literacy educators, and personal contacts. Each188two-phased interview collected biographical data first and then data on individualperceptions of self-confidence, responsibility, pride, observation skills, alternatives toreading, oral skills, memory, sociality, and mental ability.Once interviewing was complete, subjects were arranged on a continuum of success,the data tabulated and, if appropriate, comparisons made; where possible, qualitative datapreviously sorted into a number of pre-selected categories were quantified.Finally, conclusions were drawn concerning the relationship of subjects toprevailing views of them, how they managed to cope with the demands of literate society,and how they managed to be successful financially as well as in other ways.Contributions to Knowledge in the Field of Literacy StudiesThe research described in this dissertation owes much to previous studies completedby Arlene Fingeret (1982a) and Allen Manning (1984). Fingeret has been instrumental inencouraging the study of the illiterate adult's point of view and in creating a morepositive view of the illiterate adult in general. Her work has made it clear that illiterateadults often see themselves in ways that differ markedly from traditional views.Manning's study brought into focus certain "prosperous" illiterate adults who aresomewhat related to the financially successful illiterate men identified in this study. Anattempt has been made in this study to expand upon the pioneering efforts of Fingeret andManning and to make changes in the methods employed by them.Identifying the population. Attempts were made ahead of time to identify anddescribe the population to be studied by using a set of selection variables, thereby189focusing on a specific group within the body of illiterate people in order to begin toidentify characteristics of that group. Both Fingeret and Manning identified groups ofilliterate adults, but Fingeret's group arose from her data and were not identifiedbeforehand, while members of Manning's group were never totally described despite hisbeginning with two selection criteria. As a result, no one until now has carefully definedand described a sub-group of illiterate adults. Identifying the financially successfulilliterate male now makes it possible for research to expand into other groups. Perhapsfuture studies can embrace a broader sample.Employing a formalized analysis procedure.  Neither of the two previous studiesappeared to have had a formalized method for dealing with the data gathered. Thus, itwas difficult to tell how the data were analyzed and whether the analysis was accurate.In addition, the results lacked focus; it was hard to know what to do with them. Themethod used in this study to categorize and quantify people's perceptions makes itpossible to identify common views among study subjects. These data can then be used todetermine the factors that may contribute to success, knowledge that can now be appliedto literacy practices, government policies, publishing plans, and research initiatives.Having a focus. The two previous researchers sought to investigate a broadergroup called illiterate adults. One result of their studies was the identification of apparentsub-groups within that general population. This study differs in that its purpose is to findand describe a sub-group of illiterate adults identified as successful according topre-determined criteria that reflect fairly popular standards of success in our society.Knowledge about illiterate people. This study reinforces the belief that valuable190information can be gained about illiterate people through the use of the interview. Thetapes collected from the interviews conducted for this study contain information abouthow these men live, view their lives, and make decisions. In fact, more informationexists on the tapes than can be applied solely to this study. Potentially interestinginformation could likely be gleaned on such topics as language usage and patterns,thought processes, and social interactions if the tapes were to be analyzed by specialistsin these fields. Future studies of illiterate people might be organized and funded byseveral groups in order to insure that the information collected is used to its full potential.LimitationsSample size and selection, however, limit the extent to which general conclusionscan be drawn from the data.Sample size. The size of the sample is too small to represent adequately andcredibly the total population of illiterate men. The exact numbers of illiterate men cannotbe identified since the only data available in the national census files are limited to gradescompleted at school. These data are highly unreliable for predicting levels of literacy. Asthis study shows, the grade that a person completes does not necessarily reflect either thegrade level of reading ability achieved (then or later) or the subject's ability to cope withliteracy-oriented activities in later years. In addition, this study lacks elaborate controlmechanisms and has never been intended to be a definitive study of the sort thatexperimental designers attempt to create.191Sample selection. The selection of the sample was not conducted randomlybecause to identify the total population of either illiterate men or successful illiterate menis not, and may never be, possible. Early in the preparation stages, finding successfulilliterate men willing to talk about their lives was forecast to be a difficult task, aprediction fulfilled by the experience of the process itself as outlined in Chapter 3 andAppendix F.The existence of the two limiting factors described above means that generalconclusions for the broad group of illiterate men cannot be drawn; however, this studywas designed to increase the general awareness of the value of collecting the perceptionsof specific groups of people and then categorizing those perceptions so that a morecomplete view of what motivates and influences them can be described. The results ofthe process in this case appear to be useful and gratifying.Conclusions Based on the Findings of This StudyTwo broad conclusions are suggested by the findings of this study, one concerningthe inadequacy of the traditional view of illiterate people and the other concerning theways illiterate men cope with and achieve success in society. Each is built on severalfindings and each may have implications for the broader issue of illiteracy.Weaknesses in the Traditional ViewThe findings of this study suggest that not all illiterate people may be characterizedas deficient. Making a living, functioning in society, learning, thinking, raising families,192and maintaining dignity and self-respect are not impossible tasks for the majority of themen interviewed. Many hardly differ from their literate counterparts. These are notinadequate or inferior citizens, nor do they perceive themselves as such. Neither domany perceive any great need to become literate, other than for the possible pleasures ofreading for enjoyment.If illiterate people are not deficient, then the assumed causal relationship betweenilliteracy and social problems such as crime, unemployment, and poverty is incorrectlyascribed. The existence of illiterate people not suffering from these social evils mustsurely lead one to question the assumption that illiteracy is generally a cause of socialills. If no causal relationship exists between illiteracy and social problems, then theassumption of the essential value of literacy for achieving the good life and avoidingsocial evils is also incorrect. Further, if the essential value of literacy comes underquestion, then programs assuming its importance may be inappropriate, and factors otherthan literacy, such as instrumental, value-laden attitudes and perceptions, are more useful.It is important to distinguish in passing, however, between literacy as a need andliteracy as an advantage. No one in this study disavowed the usefulness of literacy skills,only their necessity for survival and prosperity. It is at least possible to conclude thatthere is a population of illiterate people much larger than that sampled in this study forwhom illiteracy is simply not a significant concern.Moreover, if the definitive cause of poor participation in literacy programs has notbeen identified in this study, then it has surely been illuminated to a greater degree.People not perceiving themselves afflicted by any deficiency are unlikely to respond to193programs purporting to address it. Were programs designed imagining them asconfident, successful, able, assured, adept at learning and appreciative of certainpleasures in reading and writing, a whole new wave of participation might follow.Ascribing rather than discovering clients' needs, in any case, is unlikely to meet with anydegree of success greater than it has already.Coping and Achieving SuccessAmong the possible characteristics of success highlighted by this study are not onlythings like self-confidence, pride, responsibility, and social skills, but also degrees ofability in coping with literate society, from learning new things, accepting challenges andencouraging promotions, to exploiting oral skills and alternatives to reading and writingand providing leadership. None are literacy-related -- none could be, by virtue of thedefinition and selection process for subjects included in this study. Programs thatintroduce literacy as a factor of effectiveness in the above activities will have to beredesigned given the relative success of subjects identified here in these areas.Recent personal experience in the training of literacy tutors was enlightening on thispoint. One exercise asking students to highlight skills necessary for illiterate people tocope led to a vision of them as exceptional people with remarkable gifts that they hadundoubtedly developed in light of their handicap. When some of the results of this studywere then shared, positive views of the capabilities of illiterate people formed in theminds of these future tutors as they left the meeting.194As in all teaching situations, future literacy counsellors and researchers will learnfrom, as well as teach, their clientele. Less narrowly defined bases for programs,moreover, may reach a wider audience, allowing programs to have more remarkablesocial effects. If client's strengths and value-laden perceptions about success areincorporated into program design, the results may be rewarding indeed.Implications of the ConclusionsIf conclusions drawn about the illiterate men who were the subjects of this studycan be applied to a wider population of illiterate adults, then real progress may result.Some of the implications of such conclusions for the various interest groups involved withthe literacy issue are suggested here.Paying Attention to the Views of Illiterate AdultsAs a rule, people are moved to action more by what they feel they know than bywhat they are told to do or by what others think they ought to do (Marton 1981, 182).The prospect of help, such as that offered by literacy programs, is only sought if deemedimportant. Since illiterate adults are considered to be in identical predicaments, programplanners have inadvertently designed unsuccessful services and wasted resources. Ifhowever the target clients are not as a group homogeneous, then a great deal of finetuning -- of listening to rather than dictating needs -- is required. Additional knowledgeabout client perceptions, such as that offered by this study, will therefore be crucial.195Paying attention to the perceptions of illiterate adults can also help shape programplanning in adult basic education (ABE). Programs can respond to needs, many of whichmay have heretofore been unidentified, like the one uncovered in this study concerningthe desire to read for pleasure. Practical reasons for literacy training may as a result bedownplayed, with new purposes having to do with new satisfactions sought by alreadyhappy and successful illiterate adults. Since programs aimed at integrating workers intothe workplace better seem doomed to failure anyway (Berlin 1983), new programs basedon legitimate needs may be less likely to lose their funding by reason of their lack ofeffectiveness. The final advantage, undoubtedly, will be an improved relationshipbetween tutors and students. Building on strengths such as oral fluency rather thanweaknesses in reading and writing is certain to enhance classroom environment.As well, companies providing pre-packaged curriculum materials based on currentlydefined purposes will have to respond to the new classroom agenda. Publication costs asweighed against a variable, multi-faceted, heterogeneous target audience may make forless attractive financial returns and more work for marketing staff, unless inventive newways of responding to needs can be established.Teachers and volunteers, in turn, are sure to need additional training, regardless ofavailable materials. A new level of professionalism among literacy providers may result,along with a new flexibility of approach in the classroom.New assessment tools must be developed to aid program providers in assessing thestrengths and desires of their clients along with their varying levels of ability. Guidelinesfor preparing useful, learner-centred teaching materials will now be essential. But196experienced and independent literacy teachers, no longer tied to traditional models, will,in the long run, surely result, while learning resources that accommodate differences arelikely to have enormous constructive impact.Media coverage will also change; perspectives embracing success-orientedparticipants will constitute more positive and therefore balanced reporting. The voices ofsuccessful illiterate adults need to be heard if proper allocation of ever-shrinkingresources is to result. Illiteracy will no longer be associated with shame.Governments will ultimately benefit. The voices of illiterate adults will be heard inpublic debate, informing the design of initiatives that affect them, insuring that tax dollarsare wisely spent. Business too will be led to a new way of screening job applicants basedon their strengths; new levels of quality and production may result, along with newopportunities for all citizens.Paying Attention to the Strengths of Illiterate AdultsAs this study illustrates, learning ability is not dependent upon literacy. Many otherfacets of the learning process that come into play need now to be included in a future andpotential-oriented model of education. Various kinds of mental ability may in fact betotally unrelated to literacy and should be analyzed. Whole new definitions of andperspectives on intellectual capacity may emerge from this analysis.Personal experience suggests the various means of information gathering open to thestudent are key in learning. Print need not be the classroom's sole communicationmedium. To assume it superior to picture and sound seems also unsupportable.197Maximum participation in classroom activities can best be ensured through the provisionof a wide variety of educational media and communication methods.The relationship between literacy and thinking and learning will thus be a usefularea of future research. If the mental processes of readers and non-readers can somehowbe compared, for instance, useful revelations about literacy-based learning could occur.If non-literate means of information gathering, thinking, and problem solving turn out tobe as efficacious as literate ones, no ground will exist for current prejudices. Support forthis idea already exists in the work of Scribner and Cole (1981, 132). Whole new areasof opportunity for non-readers may result. In fact, many institutions of formal learninghave begun to provide alternatives for the partially blind and physically impaired whomay never be able to read or write by traditional methods. Audio tapes, video tapes, andscribes are available. Perhaps these services could be extended to illiterate people ingeneral or at least to those who may lack the ability to process print. One of theinterviewees in this study was allowed to use a scribe when writing final examinations forhis high school credits, including English.Complementarily, prerequisite skills for adult basic education courses would thenhave to embrace thinking and learning skills in general rather than literacy skills inparticular. Learning how to learn, in short, will provide the helpful new focus for ABEinitiatives. The end results of this new generation of literacy courses would be thedevelopment of adaptive behaviour and the acquisition of creative problem-solving skills.Dropout rates should diminish, since teaching methods will now address a variouslytalented and heterogeneously able student clientele.198Business will also benefit from a focus on variable communication skills andstrengths among its workers, including the ability to adapt to retraining, as well as a newreliance on values like co-operation and responsibility. A subtler and more malleableassessment process would help the dependable worker, the personnel specialist, thecommitted manager, the eager producer. Motivation and leadership may reach newlevels. New perspectives on essential retraining, an increasingly urgent need in thecurrently competitive global economic environment, will also be crucial to the wholereshaping of the workplace.The potential for change may rest almost entirely with the research community.Ignorance of the illiterate citizen's potential strengths is no longer affordable. Serious,credible studies are required to support new perspectives and program expenditures. Nolonger should the assumption of weakness among illiterate adults be allowed to win bydefault.Of course, the research community itself, through the importance it attaches topublished findings in books and journals, is itself biased towards literacy, as are itsfunding bodies.Slow readers in high school might also be allowed to meet higher intellectualchallenges and no longer be shunted aside in remedial classes. Reading ability mayindeed not have been their real handicap in regard to past difficulties involving theirintegration into the workplace, but rather their having been held back from exercises inhigher-order thinking. With a better understanding of learning without reading, studentsgenerally doomed to inferior education and workplace opportunity could, through199improved programming, find themselves better suited to the demands of society at large.New levels of confidence that result may feed into a new faith in their ability to read andwrite at much improved levels. Government funding aimed at enhancing theopportunities of non-readers could complement these other strategies.Identifying and Incorporating Factors of SuccessIf literacy-based adult basic education programs are aimed at improving the chancesof success for their clients, then values and attitudes that appear to lead to that successneed to be incorporated into their design. A more varied clientele will result, a studentbody both engaged and motivated. As clients' strengths are used as classroom resources,a helpful integration and sharing process will inform the learning agenda.Identification of crucial factors leading to success will be an important focus for theresearch community, and qualitative methods of data collection, despite theirshortcomings, will be crucial to the new revelations. Factors identified by this study, ifrelevant to the larger population of illiterate and literate people alike, need furtherresearch support in order to allow more broadly-based conclusions to be drawn. Theimplications of such research would no doubt be relevant to the entire educational system.Members of literate society, moreover, may be more likely to. acknowledge researchresults that also embrace them.The business community will also be interested in these results. Values andattitudes having a direct relation to profit can take on a new focus. Retraining,competitive businesses will find, may be wholly redefined. Non-technical emphases may200apply to the workforce in general, in fact, while technical and literacy-based curricula,despite the attention currently being paid to them, may be of only secondary importance.De-emphasizing the importance of literacy as a qualification for employment may actuallyincrease the opportunities for hiring people with the potential to learn and perform wellonce new screening and interview processes are used to identify such candidates.Success-oriented ABE curricula will also remove the fear felt by many candidates inthis study about formal schooling and literacy training. Returning to school, thus, canbecome a pleasurable and inviting prospect for illiterate people, without the devaluationnow experienced by many students. Successful illiterate adults may even be able to actas peer tutors, enhancing classroom confidence and insuring continued participation.Such moves will also enhance the likelihood of productive and successful literacyprograms, helping to ensure their continued funding. As long as governments allocatemoney on the basis of immediate results, the argument in favour of sensible and attractivecourse improvements seems to make more sense than ever now. The success of the newABE curricula will give governments the rationalization they need for continued support.The democratic government's ideology in favour of equality of educational andemployment opportunity, requires that the stigma long attached to illiterate workers beremoved. The modern social agenda is one where able and willing workers of varyingbackgrounds and abilities are considered for suitable placement in the mainstreamworkforce. Since no causal link between literacy and effectiveness has ever been shownto exist, literacy requirements should not control access to the workplace. Governmentsdeveloping and adopting policies aimed at securing and guaranteeing equal opportunity201for all workers, literate or not, perhaps through the enactment of stricter requirements forfair hiring practices, will be of greater value to all of their constituents.However, the responsibility of providing the rationale for change lies with theresearch community, whose task it is to demonstrate to governments and the public thatconventional success need not be restricted to certain groups in society, but is available toall. With one less scapegoat to blame, governments may be more likely to act.SummaryIt has not been the intention of this study to argue against the usefulness andadvantages of literacy, only against the insistence on it as an essential requirement forsuccessful living. Literacy is one of an array of skills contributing to successfulfunctioning in life, and needs to be seen by society at large in this context. The storiesof illiterate people, therefore, need to be heard. Their dignity, resourcefulness andcommitment can teach about the means to survival and prosperity. It is time to recognizestrength and reward ability, to embrace the many ways of learning, and not restrict theprocess to a single strategy.Change will be slow; old prejudices are deeply ingrained and power groups tend tobe self-perpetuating. Nevertheless, it is the time for concerned members of the mediaand government, adult education teachers, the research community, and the generalpublic to break with tradition and work to insure that one of society's devalued groupsreceives recognition for creative adaptation to an often hostile world and equal access tothe rights and freedoms accorded any individual in a free society.202APPENDIX AINTERVIEW PROTOCOLTwo interview protocols were developed for this research. The first protocol wasemployed during the pilot testing phase and the second was the result of modificationsmade after pilot testing.Pilot Testing PhaseScheduled Standardized Interview1. When were you born?2. Where were you born?3. How long did you live there?4. Can you remember any other places you have lived in?5. Are there any experiences from when you were younger that stick out in yourmind?6. How many people were there in your family?7. When did you leave school? Can you remember the year?8. Why did you leave school?9. How did you feel about school at that time?10. Are there any people or things from that time that stick out in your mind?20311. What was the best thing that you remember from your youth?12. What was the worst thing that you remember from your youth?13. Who were the most important people from this growing up period?14. What were the most important things you learned during your youth? Why?15. How did you learn them?16. Did you have any paying jobs while you were still at school?17. What jobs have you had since you left school?18. What kinds of responsibilities have you had at these jobs?19. Have you ever been in charge of other people?20. Have you ever been out of work?21. Do you own your own home?22. Approximately how much do you earn per year?23. Are you or have you ever been married?24. Do you have any children?25. Do you have money invested or saved?26. How many close friends do you have right now? How did you meet them?27. How long have you known your closest friends?28. What kinds of work do these friends do?29. How much do your close friends know about you?30. Who helps you the most? How?31. Who are your most important employees or associates?32. Do you belong to any clubs, churches, or political organizations?20433. Have you ever held an elected office?34. Can you read or write?35. Have you ever taken any courses to learn how?36. Do you plan on taking any other courses?37.^Here are some situations in which a person would normally be expected to usereading or writing. Could you explain what you would do in these situations?(a) Getting a driver's licence(b) Income tax(c) Dealing with lawyers(d) Business records(e) Application forms38.^How many people know that you have trouble with your reading andwriting?39. Do you know any other men or women who have trouble reading or writing?40. Why do you think there are so many Canadians out of work?41.^Would you mind taking a short test so that we can check your reading level?Final VersionScheduled Standardized Interview1. When were you born?2. Where were you born?2053. How long did you live there?4. Can you remember any other places you have lived?5. How many people were there in your family?6. When did you leave school? What was the last grade you completed?7. Why did you leave school?8. Can you remember how you felt about school at that time?9. Who were your best friends from your early school days? Do you still see any ofthem regularly?10. Who was your best teacher? Why?11. Who was your worst teacher? Why?12. Who helped you the most when you were growing up?13. Did you learn anything when you were young that helped you in later years?14. Who taught you that?15. Did you have any paying jobs while you were still at school?16. Where have you worked since you left school?17. What kinds of work have you done at these jobs?18. Have you ever been in charge of other people?19. Have you ever been out of work? When? How long?20. Do you own your own home? Have you ever owned a home?21.^How long have you lived where you do now? How long have you lived in thisarea?22.^Approximately how much do you earn per year?20623. Do you have any insurance policies?24. Are you married? How long have you been married?25. Have you ever been divorced or separated?26. How many children do you have? Do they live at home?27. What do they do?28. How much schooling do they have?29. How many close friends do you have? How did you meet them?30. How long have you known your closest friends?31. What kinds of work do these friends do?32. How much do these friends know about you?33. Do they know that you have trouble reading and writing?34. Who helps you the most? How?35. Who are your most important employees or friends? Why?36. Do you belong to any clubs, churches, or political organizations?37. Have you ever held an elected office?38. Can you read or write?39. Have you ever taken a course to learn how, other than when you first went toschool?40. Do you plan on taking any such courses? Why or why not?41.^How do you deal with situations in which you are supposed to read and write?(a) Securing a driver's licence(b) Filling out income tax forms207(c) Writing letters(d) Dealing with legal matters(e) Keeping business records(f) Filling out application forms42. How many people around you know that you can't read and writevery well?43. Do you know any other men or women who can not read and write? What kindof work are they doing?44. Why do you believe there are so many unemployed Canadians today?45. Would you mind taking a short test so that we can establish your level of readingand writing?Unscheduled InterviewThe questions for the unscheduled interviews are divided into two groups. The firstgroup is made up of questions of a general nature which may serve as good warm upquestions in an interview or as questions which allow interviewees some freedom todigress should more pointed questions cause discomfort at any time during the interview.The second group of questions are questions which deal with specific perspectives thatare being sought.208General and Introductory QuestionsCould you describe a typical day at work for you?If you were asked to give someone starting out on a job some advice, what wouldyou tell him?If you were asked to give a young man some advice about life, what would you say?What do you think are the things which had the greatest effect on what you aretoday?ConfidenceDo you believe that you can be successful at things that you do? Why or why not?Do you have people working for or under you? Are they well educated? Do youhave any difficulty dealing with them?Are you or have you ever been in business for yourself? Could you explain why?Do you have people who can read and write working for you? How do you deal withthat?Do you ever have to deal with professional people such as lawyers or accountants?How do you deal with them?Are you actively involved with any volunteer organizations?ResponsibilityHow much time have you missed from work over the years?209How do you feel about being late?How important is it to keep your promises? Is it ever possible to break a promise?When is it okay to quit a job?Do you have to look after anyone besides yourself? What do you have to do in thatsituation?Where did you learn how to be a responsible person?What is your greatest responsibility in life? Why?How much do you feel that you can trust people? How do you know if a person istrustworthy?PrideWhat are some of the things in your life that you are proud of? Why?What are some of the things that you are not so proud of?How do you know if you have done a good job?How important are the opinions of others?When you are proud of something, how do you feel?What makes a person feel proud?Observation SkillsHow do you learn new things when you have to?Have you ever had a time when you had to go out and learn something new? Howdid you handle that?210How good are you at noticing things?Do you keep up with local affairs and political activities in your community and inthe country as a whole? How do you do that?Alternatives-to-Reading SectionDo you find that you have to be better at certain things because you can not read andwrite? Could you explain?People who can read and write use those skills to receive and send information.What do you do?Do many people know that you can not read or write? How do you keep them fromfinding out?What ways for getting information, other than reading, have you used?What ways of sending information, other than writing, have you used?Do you think that not being able to read and write has forced you to become better atother things? Can you give any examples?Oral SkillsCan you tell me how to get to where you work?How do you teach new workers or others who come to you to learn?MemoryWho were some important people in your life? Why?211Can you recall any events in your life which had a great effect on you? Can youexplain why they did?How much do you have to remember in your daily work? How do you do it?What ways do you have of remembering things that are important?SocialityWhat do you do for fun or entertainment? Why?What kind of people do you enjoy being around? Why?How much formal education do most of your friends have?Do your friends know that you have trouble reading and writing?Do you belong to any service clubs or other organizations? If so, what role/roles doyou play in them?What part of town do you live in? What kind of neighbourhood is it?Do you enjoy parties and other social activities? Why or why not?How would you describe yourself at a party?What do you think makes a person successful socially?GeneralizingToday, there is a lot of information that we have to deal with. What do you do tohandle it all?What kinds of problems does a person who cannot read and write have to deal with?How can a person deal with them?212What are some important skills which a person needs to survive in life today?What is success?How do you know when you are successful?MiscellaneousDo you have any tricks that you use to keep people from finding out that you don'tread and write very well?How much reading and writing do you have to do at work?APPENDIX BBIOGRAPHICAL CHARTS AND SKETCHESThe biographical data presented in this appendix are provided for readers who wishto see how the various subjects compare. The headings under which comparisons aremade are age, number of siblings, birth order, reading grade level, associationmembership, being elected to an office, number of jobs, present work type, homeownership, investments, life insurance, marital status, number of children, and educationand employment of adult children. Within the charts, subjects are listed in descendingorder according to self-reported income. The identification numbers were assigned inchronological order at the first interview for each subject and are the same as those usedto identify those who are quoted throughout the dissertation. Three main charts are used.They are "Background and Social Involvement", "Employment and Economic Status",and "Marital and Family Status". In addition to the biographical charts, a biographicalsketch of each subject is provided. These sketches are intended to give the reader abetter sense of the kinds of people who were interviewed and whose vital statistics arepresented in the charts.213214BIOGRAPHICAL DATA - BACKGROUND AND SOCIAL ENVIRONMENTID AGE SIBLINGS B.O. L.G.C. R.G.L. ASSOC E.O.25 35 7 2 11 3 Yes Yes6 60 12 4 0 0 Yes No22 66 2 2 7 0 Yes No26 46 4 2 7 2 Yes Yes34 49 3 1 5 3 Yes Yes*29 38 7 4 5 1 Yes No5 42 10 11 5 3 Yes No1 37 4 4 9 2 Yes No19 39 4 1 8 2 Yes Yes23 43 4 5 3 2 Yes No16 56 4 2 6 3 Yes Yes40 30 3 3 10 2 No No28 38 5 2 9 3 Yes Yes15 39 7 7 7 1 Yes No38 62 7 6 6 3 No No12 32 7 2 10 3 Yes No21518 31 3 4 10 3 Yes Yes27 49 5 6 7 0 Yes Yes21 57 4 1 ? 0 Yes No30 35 2 3 10 1 Yes No8 45 0 1 10 3 Yes No33 48 3 1 7 1 Yes Yes7 65 9 3 3 0 Yes No3 32 12 2 6 2 Yes No39 46 8 8 6 2 Yes No36 44 1 1 8 0 Yes No31 34 9 6 4 1 Yes No35 40 6 1 6 3 Yes No11 45 3 2 2 3 Yes No24 51 3 3 3 1 No No32 43 7 1 ? 0 Yes No4 54 7 4 3 3 Yes Yes37 41 2 1 9 3 No No2 45 8 2 4 3 Yes Yes13 44 1 1 ? 3 Yes No21617 55 9 6 3 0 No NO10 30 2 3 10 3 No No9 34 2 1 9 3 Yes No20 50 4 5 8 3 Yes Yes14 58 * * 2 3 No NoB.0^= Birth Order^ * = claimed no familyL.G.C.^= Last Grade Completed^? = unsure of lastgradeR.G.L.^Reading Grade level^< = political officeAssoc Member = Association Membership E.O. = Elected Office217BIOGRAPHICAL DATA - EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC STATUSID JOB# WORK TYPE INCOME HOMEOWNERINVESTMENTS INSURANCE25 7 Business $100,000 Yes Yes Yes6 2 Business $100,000 Yes Yes Yes22 7 Investor $ 65,000 Yes Yes Yes26 7 Business $ 50,000 No Yes Yes34 10+ Welder $ 40,000 Yes Yes Yes29 7 Factory $ 33,000 Yes Yes Yes5 9 Factory $ 31,000 No Yes Yes1 5 Factory $ 30,000 Yes Yes Yes19 6 Factory $ 30,000 Yes Yes Yes23 5 Cook $ 30,000 Yes No Yes16 7 Mechanic $ 30,000 Yes Yes Yes40 4 Factory $ 28,000 No No No28 6 Dispatch $ 28,000 Yes Yes No15 5 Factory $ 27,000 Yes Yes Yes21838 1 Factory $ 26,000 Yes Yes Yes12 2 Trucker $ 25,000 Yes Yes No18 2 Welder $ 25,000 Yes Yes Yes27 9 Business $ 25,000 Yes Yes Yes21 7 Factory $ 25,000 Yes Yes Yes30 1 Janitor $ 25,000 No Yes Yes8 5 Business $ 20,000 Yes Yes Yes33 8+ Factory $ 20,000 Yes Yes Yes7 11 Pension $ 20,000 No* Yes Yes3 9 Cook $ 20,000 No Yes Yes39 6 Janitor $ 20,000 No No No36 10+ Welfare $ 18,000 No No No31 9 W.C. $ 17,000 No Yes Yes35 4 U.I.C. $ 14,000 No No Yes11 10+ Busboy $ 12,000 No No No24 7+ Welfare $ 12,000 No No No32 15+ Welfare $ 12,000 No No No4 8 W.C. $ 12,000 No No No37 7+ Welfare $ 12,000 No No No2192 10+ W.C. $ 10,000 No No No13 5 Security $^9,600 Yes Yes Yes17 6 Welfare $^9,600 No No No10 10 Welfare $^8,000 No No No9 3 Welfare $^8,000 No No Yes20 4 Welfare $^8,000 No No Yes14 5 Welfare $^7,000 No No No* This man had owned his own home prior to retiringDis.^• DisabilityU.I.C. • Unemployment InsuranceW.C.^• Workman's compensation (usually for injuredworkers)220BIOGRAPHICAL DATA - MARITAL AND FAMILY STATUSID MARITALSTATUS# OFCHILDRENCHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOL# EDUCATION EMPLOYMENT25 Married 1 1 Drop Out Mechanic6 Married 4 4 Drop Out Self-employedHigh School ClericalHigh School ClericalCollege Dental Assistant22 Married 2 2 High School DriverHigh School Armed Services26 Married 2 2 High School FactoryHigh School Nursing34 Married 2 2 College ButcherHigh School Legal Secretary29 Married 4 05 Married 4 01 Married 0 019 Married 1 022123 Single 0 016 Married 2 2 High School Management TraineeHigh School Waitress40 Single 1 028 Married 1 1 High School Mechanic15 Married 2 038 Divorce 2 2 High School FactoryHigh School Housewife12 Married 2 018 Married 1 027 Married 3 3 High School WelderHigh School FactoryHigh School Stock Manager21 Married 7 7 High School WaitressHigh School WaitressHigh School FactoryHigh School NurseHigh School NurseHigh School Disability222High School Unemployed30 Single 0 08 Married 2 1 Drop Out Self-employed33 Married 2 2 Drop Out FactoryCollege Nurse7 Married 8 8 High School NurseDrop Out Self-employedHigh School BankerUniversity BuyerHigh School Teacher's AidUniversity NurseHigh School Makeup Artist3 Married 2 039 Divorce 1 036 Married 3 031 Married 2 035 Married 2 011 Divorce 4 4 Drop Out AestheticianDrop Out Housewife223Drop Out HousewifeDrop Out Janitor24 Married 3 3 Drop Out HousewifeDrop Out HousewifeDrop Out Housewife32 Married 6 04 Married 3 3 High School FactoryHigh School WelderDrop Out Housewife37 Married 1 02 Divorce 2 2 High School LabourerHigh School Nursing Assist.13 Married 0 017 Single 0 010 Single 0 09 Single 0 020 Single 1 1 Unknown Unknown14 Single224BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHESThe following biographical sketches are supplementary to the charts which provide acomparative view of the biographical data collected during the interviews. The sketches areprimarily written to create a snapshot of each candidate so that the reader will be able torelate to him as a person and not just as a statistic.The biographical sketches are listed chronologically, according to the order ofinterviews. The identification code is the same employed with quotations placed in the textof the dissertation. Throughout these sketches, reference is made to the home base of theresearcher. This home base refers to a medium-sized city of about 250,000 in CentralOntario.1. One is thirty-seven years of age, married, and has no children. He lives in a largetown about two hundred miles from the researcher's home base. He has no debts and ownshis home outright. His wife is a semi-invalid who requires special attention and is prettywell confined to a wheel chair. He is proud of his accomplishments and of his ability toacquire and keep a secure job in a major food-processing plant. He enjoys hunting, fishing,and the outdoors. He has had a literacy tutor but her eyesight has failed her.2. Two is forty-five and attends a literacy program regularly. He is divorced and has twoadult children. He is a recovering alcoholic and is on welfare due to a back injury. Heworks odd jobs as a disc jockey and as a Mall Santa at Christmas time. He appears to havea modestly comfortable life-style although he often goes to the local soup kitchen for lunch.He speaks of lobbying his member of parliament on behalf of disabled people and hasspoken to convicts about alcoholism. He has never really had a consistent period ofemployment. He lives in the research-base city.2253. Three is thirty-two, re-married, and has two daughters, one from each marriage. Onlythe second daughter is living with him. He lives in the research-base city and works as acook in a half-way house for ex-convicts. He has had other better jobs as a chef in the past.He is quite a philosopher, something he might have picked up from his preacher father. Hisinterests include music and weightlifting. He is attending a literacy program sporadically.4. Four is fifty-four years of age, married, and has three adult children. He lives in a cityof about 70,000 about twenty miles from the research base. He left home, with his parents'blessings, at age thirteen so that he would not have to work in the coal mines of his nativeprovince, and over the years has worked on lake freighters and in factories. Finally, badhealth ended his working days. He has been actively involved in bringing a men's softballleague to his city and served as the president of the softball association for a time. He is aninteresting man who has only ever been happy on the lakes. He is attending a literacyprogram.5. Five is a forty-two year old workaholic type. Almost every day he works an extra halfshift. He admits that this does not make him particularly popular with his fellow employees.However, his ability to work hard and long is a source of pride. He is proud of the speedwith which he and his partner can produce the auto parts he works on. He often says, "Ifmy boss is happy, then I am happy." He is married to his second wife and has one of hischildren living with him. The other three live with his first wife. He and his family live inan apartment in the research-base city. This man loves to talk and as a result his interviewsare the longest of the entire group. He attends a literacy class sporadically -- when workallows.2266. Six is sixty-one years of age and is in semi-retirement. He lives on a farm about thirtymiles from the researcher's home base. He is married to his second wife and has fourgrown children and several grandchildren. Six is one of the two most creativeentrepreneurial types interviewed. He gives the impression of being a man who was oncedriven to achieve but is now relatively at peace. Still, he continues to work on machines inhis spare time and is designing and building a truck for purposes of moving large objects.He is a proud man who has every confidence in his ability to do whatever he sets out to do.A good example of this pride and confidence is that he once purchased a service station andthen hired a licensed mechanic to work there so that he would have someone to supervise hisapprenticeship. He attempted to take a literacy course once with no success.7. Seven is married and lives with his wife and one daughter in an apartment in theresearch-base city. All eight of his children are adults. He is sixty-five and recently retired,having worked over thirty years for a major tire manufacturer where he dealt with manycomplicated machines. While raising his family, he also had a few extra jobs on the side.His wife has never worked outside of the home. He is a man of strong opinions but onewho thinks before he speaks. Since having retired, his hobby seems to be travelling. He isseeing a literacy tutor weekly.8. Eight is forty-five years of age, married, and has two young adult children. He lives inthe research-base city. At one time, he managed a major swimming facility in ametropolitan centre about sixty miles away. After leaving that job, he purchased a servicestation but a customer drove her car into him and broke both of his legs. After hisrecuperation, he started a pool-servicing business. This man is very talkative and has an227excellent vocabulary. Most people would take him for a man with considerably moreeducation than he has. He has attended literacy classes in the past but has not persisted.9. Nine is thirty-four years of age and single. He has never really had a job and is livingin a town of 75,000 about twenty miles from the research base. He is a paranoidschizophrenic and pretty much keeps to himself although he does go out to some organizedactivities and even tries to work at very low-risk jobs. He is very interested in ham radiooperation and spends most of his time on that hobby. He is a very depressed and unsureindividual. He is seeing a literacy tutor weekly.10. Ten is thirty years of age, single, and lives in the same city as Eleven and Fourteen.He seems to have a limited circle of friends and is very dependent upon them for support,especially emotionally. He is unemployed and is unsure about what he should do with hislife. He seems not to have much of an idea of what it takes to be a success. He is involvedin an upgrading program for arithmetic and reading.11. Eleven is forty-five, divorced, and lives in the same city as Fourteen and Ten. Hehas four adult daughters whom he sees only rarely. His hobby is weightlifting and he is afaithful church-goer. He is unafraid to admit his illiteracy and has become somewhat of acelebrity in his city having been on TV as well as having been the subject of severalnewspaper articles. He works as a busboy cum kitchen helper in a restaurant and is proudof his ability to work with keeping the stock and storing products. He has been involved inliteracy programs for a number of years and is making little progress.12. Twelve is remarried and has his son from his first marriage living with him. Hisdaughter lives with his first wife. His new wife, a university graduate, and he live in theirown home in a city of 75,000 about fifteen miles from the research base. His job involves228delivering steel girders to building sites and setting them in place on buildings. This jobrequires that he run an expensive and sensitive piece of machinery. He has had a number ofdifficulties in his life but at thirty-two years of age he maintains confidence in himself andthe future. He is meeting a literacy tutor weekly.13. Thirteen is forty-four, married with no children. He lives in a small house in thesame city as the previous three men. He makes a very low wage as a security guard andreally has no clear idea of how to improve himself. He has been attending a governmentsponsored literacy program at the library. This man is one of the three most depressedindividuals in this study, along with Nine and Fourteen.14. Fourteen is fifty-eight years of age, single, and claims not to have a family that hewants to remember at all. He is a Native Canadian and lives in a large steel-producing cityabout sixty miles from the research base. Fourteen has almost no idea of what it would taketo get ahead in life. He frequently responds with "I don't know", is extremely pessimistic,and has not had any work for about three years. He is involved in a government-fundedliteracy program.15. Fifteen is thirty-nine and married with two pre-school children. After a number ofyears of working summer relief in a large steel company, he has finally gained secureemployment at another factory. His work requires that he use high-tech equipment. Fifteenis also a peaceful person who believes that it is not good to accept unemployment insurance.Each year when he was laid off from his summer relief job, he sought out part-time and oddjobs to get through the winter. He believes that it is necessary to work at whatever the jobin order to get a start. Fifteen is a minor sports coach and is active in his church. He livesin a large city about sixty miles from the research base. He has completed a literacy course229and is supposed to be reading at the grade eight level. Testing shows he is reading at thegrade one level.16. Sixteen is fifty-six years old and is married with two adopted children. He marriedlate in life. He works as a mechanic in a city of about 70,000 within fifteen miles of theresearch base. Sixteen is a very peaceful person who seems to take things in stride. Heholds leadership roles in his church even though he has a mild speech impediment inaddition to being unable to read and write. He is a quietly efficient achiever. He attends aliteracy class but is making little progress.17. Seventeen is fifty-five, single and lives in a city of 30,000 about twenty miles from theresearch base. He has never really had a job and has become worse off since his parentsdied. He lives in fairly bad conditions and can only get odd jobs working where mentallyhandicapped people work. He appears to be bright enough in conversations but can notseem to get ahead in the literacy program in which he is registered. He admits that theprogram is mainly a social outing. His main hobbies are bingo and riding the bus or talkingto people.18. Eighteen is thirty-one and married with one daughter. He is a welder by trade andworks at auto body repair in his spare time. He enjoys sports and plays both baseball andhockey. Eighteen is proud of what he has achieved thus far in his life. He lives in a smallcity about twenty miles from the research base. He is attending a regularly scheduledliteracy class.19. Nineteen is the only successful interviewee who expresses any fear at the possibility ofbeing exposed. He is afraid that he will lose his job if his boss finds out that he can notread. As a result, he uses a pseudonym and refuses to be taped. He works in a factory. He230is married with one child. He and his wife own a home and a cottage. They live in thesame city as Fifteen. He has had a literacy tutor in the past.20. Twenty is fifty and lives in the same city as Four. He is divorced but lives with hisadult son. He has not had serious work for a number of years and has no immediateprospects. He is involved in a government funded program to help the working poor but hasnever registered in a literacy program.21. Twenty-one is fifty-seven years of age. He is married and has six children. He worksin a factory where he runs a machine press. Twenty-one is also a very peaceful person whodoes not appear to become upset easily. Over the years, he has had a number of jobs but isconfident that he can always prove his worth if given an opportunity. He lives in the samecity as Eighteen and attends the same literacy class.22. Twenty-two is sixty-six years of age and has been retired from the workplace fortwenty-one years. This is not to say that he has not been working all those years. He is aninvestor in real estate. He has homes built, then rents them until they are paid for and thenhe sells them. This investing began a number of years ago when he purchased older homesand renovated them. Twenty-two is very confident in his abilities. He has converted an oldtruck into a motor home, has built his own cabin cruiser, and has recently completely redonehis home's exterior with stone. At one time he headed up an investment consortium oflawyers and doctors and made each member about a quarter of a million dollars in real-estateinvestment. None of the members of the consortium was aware that he could not read orwrite. In addition to these other duties, Twenty-two has also managed to stay married andto raise two daughters. He lives beside a lake about thirty miles outside of the research231base. His only attempt at taking a literacy course was unsuccessful. He feels that readingrepresents the one thing in life that he might not be able to master.23. Twenty-three is forty-three and a single man. He was recently injured but until thenserved as chief chef for a major mining company in the far north. He has been responsiblefor feeding up to one thousand men per day. His responsibilities were not just for cookingbut also for planning and purchasing. He learned to use a secretary effectively and was notunwilling to tape conversations (secretly) in order to be sure that he had all of the detailsunder control. At the time of the interview, he is living in the research base city andbecoming exceedingly frustrated by bureaucratic bumbling of his compensation claims. Hehas tried a literacy class once.24. Twenty-four is fifty-one, married, and has three grown daughters. He is not workingand is involved in a community literacy program in the metropolitan centre where both Nineand Eleven live. However, whereas they live in the suburbs, he lives in the core area. Itappears that he has pretty well accepted the unlikelihood of getting work again.25. Twenty-five is a highly motivated entrepreneurial type. He married into a familytransmission business and has risen to manager fairly quickly. Eventually, he purchased hisown franchise and is now opening up his third branch. There does not appear to be a limitto the amount of work which he will do to get ahead. He is married and has one child andlives in a city of 250,000 about sixty miles from the research base. He is just beginning aliteracy class.26. Twenty-six is forty-six years old, remarried, and has two children by a previousmarriage. He is a recovering alcoholic and is putting his life back together. He has startedan earth-moving company and is doing well. He is an avid movie fan and has an extensive232collection of musicals. He also sings with the local Barbershop Association. He lives in theresearch-base city. His one attempt at taking a literacy class was unsuccessful.27. Twenty-seven is forty-nine years of age and unable to read anything other than hisname. He is married and has three grown children. He lives in a medium sized city aboutone thousand miles from the research base. This man is self-employed and has done a widerange of things over his lifetime. He is a self-trained naturalist and has lectured at the localuniversity on his specialization. In the past year, he has been awarded a special citizenshipaward for his work in preserving wildlife and has been commended for his lobbyingactivities. He is politically active in this way. His only attempt at taking a literacy coursewas a failure.28. Twenty-eight is thirty-eight, married and has two children. He lives in the same cityas Twelve. He is working as a dispatcher for a major trucking company. The position isnew for him and he seems to be doing well even though he was unwilling initially to takethe position. Finally his bosses confronted him concerning his repeated refusal of thepromotion. He admitted to them that he could not read or write and they simply said thatthat did not matter and that they could teach him what he needed to know. They were nothiring him because of his literacy skills. He is a very conscientious man. He has just begunto meet with a literacy tutor on a weekly basis.29. Twenty-nine is thirty-eight, married and has four children. Two of the children areadopted from a brother who can not provide for them. He works in a factory and is quitesatisfied with what he is doing. He has no desire to move higher because he believes thatone has to work within one's abilities and he has determined that a higher position would233require more literacy skills than he has. He lives in a major metropolitan centre about sixtymiles from the research base. He is attending a regularly scheduled literacy class.30. Thirty is thirty-five, single, and lives with his parents. He has an excellent job withthe board of education as a janitor and is very secure in his position. Even though he isdoing well financially, much of his success seems to be attributable to parental care. He hassome learning disabilities and it appears that he will not be successful in the literacy programin which he is registered. There is also some concern over how he might fare once hisparents who are beyond retirement age are not there to help. He enjoys golf as a hobby.31. Thirty-one is thirty-four, married, and has two children. He is working full time andattending a literacy course during the day. He lives in the same metropolis as Nine, Eleven,and Twelve. He feels that he has not been too successful even though he is making a goodwage. He feels that his illiteracy makes him too dependent on others. He is not tooconfident that he will be able to learn to read and write.32. Thirty-two is forty-three, re-married, and has six children by two marriages. Twochildren from his second marriage are living with him. He has been unemployed for a yearand a half and has no prospects for a job. He is attending a literacy program in the city inwhich he lives. This is the major metropolis about sixty miles from the research base.33. Thirty-three is forty-eight, married, and has two adult children. He lives in thecountry about sixty miles from the research base. He works in a small factory makinggarage doors and owns a small farm. His hobbies include restoring antique cars and farmmachinery. He also is a quiet and peaceful person. He works with a one-to-one literacytutor on a weekly basis.23434. Thirty-four is forty-nine, married, and has two adult children. He has lived most ofhis life in the north and is living in a small town about two thousand miles from the researchbase. Over the years, he has been quite involved with the literate community. He workedas a welder, ran his own fuel supply business on the side, and served as a local politician.His community work involved a stint on the library board. He is totally undaunted by thethreat of literacy partially because he has a literate spouse who recently completed heruniversity education. On the other hand, the times that he was in the spotlight at councilmeetings and such, he was totally on his own. He has taken one literacy class.35. Thirty-five is forty and married with two daughters. He has recently beenunemployed and is seeing a literacy tutor weekly. He is skilful with his hands but seems tobe suffering from his lack of paper-evidence of ability and is becoming frustrated with thesystem that rejects him because of his illiteracy. He has a small bicycle-repair business onthe side. He lives in the same city as Nine.36. Thirty-six is forty-four, married, and has three children living with him. They are allhis wife's by a former marriage. He is not working and like Thirty-five is seeing a literacytutor weekly. He lives in the same city as Nine and Thirty-five. He has almost no sense ofwhat he has to do to get ahead.37. Thirty-seven is forty-one and married with one son. He lives in the country aboutforty miles from the research base. Prior to his developing back problems, he was arelatively prosperous man owning a trucking business and travelling extensively. He has notbeen able to work for about five years and is on workman's compensation. He is attendingan adult high school and is quite confident that he will eventually be able to find a newcareer. He believes that his main purpose in life is to help people.23538. Thirty-eight is sixty-two years of age and is expecting to finish his working days atsixty-five having spent fifty years working for the same company. He is divorced and hastwo grown children. He owns his home outright and also owns a trailer which he keeps ona nearby lake. He is proud of his achievements which include learning how to fixcomplicated machinery at the factory where he works. His company has sent him oncourses to learn this. He took a literacy course once with little success. He tends not to bevery confident about things and has a bit of a drinking problem. He lives in the same city asFour and Twenty.39. Thirty-nine is forty-six and divorced. He has one son by his third wife but the boylives with his mother. He has been married four times with three marriages ending indivorce while his first left him a widower. He has recently gained a probationary position asa janitor with the school board in the research-base city and is attending a literacy programregularly. Although his life had been pretty confused, there seems to be reason to beoptimistic.40. Forty is thirty. He lives in the research-base city and works for a major tire company.He does not have a regular position with the company but has regular employment filling infor people on vacation or who are ill. He is in a state of depression because his fiancee hasleft him after having given birth to a baby girl. He is also contemplating joining a literacyprogram. He seems to be very unclear about where his life is leading or what he might doto improve things.APPENDIX CBIOGRAPHICAL DATATable 1Ages of intervieweesn=40Average44.7Mode45Median44Range30-66Table 2Age cohort groupings of intervieweesn=4030-391440-491650-59660+4Table 3Self-reported years of schooling of intervieweesAverageYrs.ModeYrs.MedianYrs.RangeYrs.n=37*^ 6.4^6^6.5^0-11* three men had been educated in British systems, in either England or Jamaica236237Table 4Reading levels of interviewees as established with the Brigance testAverage^Mode^Median^Rangen=40^ 2.1^3^2.5^0-3Table 5Number of jobs held and periods of unemployment over the careers of intervieweesn=40Job Median 7Job Mode 8Job Range 1-30+Never Unemployed 10Rarely Unemployed 11Regularly Unemployed 5Seasonally Unemployed 4Occasional 4Occasional Long 3Regular Long 1Recent Long - Injury 4**+ this sign after these numbers indicates an indefinite number of jobs over thenumber listed** the plus 2 here indicates two members who appear elsewhere on the list asseasonal unemployed. They had both had seasonal jobs in the past but both hadrecently been unable to work because of illness.238Table 6Types of work done by interviewees at the time of the interviewsn=40Factory 10*Skilled Trade 6Self-Employed 6 +Disability 5 **Welfare 8Other 5 **** one man was a farmer as well; another had recently retired after 35 years** one man was a cook by trade*** one dispatcher, one security guard, one bus-boy, and two janitors+ includes all businessmen from Employment/Economic Status chart-Appendix BTable 7Work experiences of intervieweesn=40Offered Promotions 8Accepted Promotions 6Self-Employed 6Have Business Sideline 7Run Complex Machines 9239Table 8Interviewees' work experiences appearing to require literacy skillsWarehouse Stocking^ Disc JockeyFilling Orders ChefRunning Hi-Tech Machines JanitorSending and Receiving Letters^ Preparing EstimatesPreparing Estimates^ Machine OperatorReading Reports Stock BoyShipping/Delivering Ship's WheelsmanAuto RepairWeldingTransmissions RepairInvestingPreparing ContractsChefDispatcherPoliticianServing on a Library BoardBusinessmanUnion StewardClub PresidentOwning a Mail-Order BusinessDesigning and Building a Special Use TruckTable 9Investment status of intervieweesHomeowner^Rent^Investments^Insuredn=40^ 20^20^24 25240Table 10Social roles played by intervieweesAssociations^Elected Office^Public Officen=40^ 33^ 12 1Table 11Marital status of interviewees1 Wife^Divorced^Re-married^Singlen=40^ 22 11 6 7Table 12Number of children of interviewees who have ever had a childAverage^Mode^Rangen=34*^ 2.3^ 2 0-8* one of the single men had a daughter241Table 13Education levels of interviewees' children over sixteen and no longer in schooln=52Dropout 17 33%High School 29 56%College 5 9%University 1 2%Table 14Jobs of interviewees' adult childrenn = 52Labour 7 13%Service 11 21%Skilled 8 9%Professional 12 23%Housewife 7 14%Business 3 6 %Armed Forces 1 2%Unemployment 3 6%Table 15Education levels of interviewees' wivesn=27University 2High School 8Partial High School 12Grade Eight 4Less Than Grade Eight 1n = 27 five men could not be reached on call-backs, seven were single, and onecould not remember242Table 16Education levels of interviewees' mothersn=32University^ 0High School 4Partial High School^ 2Grade Eight^ 6Less Than Grade Eight 9Unknown 11n = 32 eight men could not be reached on call-backsTable 17Education levels of interviewees' fathersn= 32University^ 1High School 2Partial High School^ 1Grade Eight^ 10Less Than Grade Eight 8Unknown 10n = 32 eight men could not be reachedTable 18Reading ability of interviewees' mothersn=32Reads Well^ 31Can Get By 0Can Not Read 1n = 32 eight men could not be reached243Table 19Reading ability of interviewees' fathersn= 32Reads Well^ 27Can Get By 4Can Not Read 1n = 32 eight men could not be reachedTable 20Jobs of interviewees' mothersn=32Labour^ 5Service 6Skilled 1Professional^ 4Housewife 16Unemployed 0n = 32 eight men could not be reachedTable 21Jobs of interviewees' fathersn=32Labour^ 13Service 2Skilled 11Professional^ 1Self-Employed 4Unemployed 1n = 32 eight men could not be reached244Table 22A completion profile for participation in literacy courses at time of initialcontact -- in descending order by incomeSubject Took Course # of Times Completed Why/Why Not25 yes 1 still in6 yes 1 no tutor unfriendly22 yes 1-2 no not interested26 yes 1 no work34 yes 1 no busy29 yes 1 still in5 yes 1 still in1 yes 1 no teacher quit19 yes 1 no busy23 yes 3 no busy16 yes 2-4 still in40 yes 2 beginning28 yes 1 still in15 yes 1 no busy38 yes 1 still in12 yes 1 no too busy18 yes 2 still in27 yes 1 no no gain21 yes 1 still in30 yes 2 still inTable 22 cont'dSubject Took Course # of Times8 yes 133 yes 17 yes(1 year) 13 yes 139 yes 111 yes 113 yes 310 yes 19 yes 131 yes 135 yes 237 yes 12 yes 132 yes 136 yes 220 no24 yes 14 yes 117 yes 114 yes 1245no^littletutor timestill instill instill inCompleted^Why/Why Notno^too busystill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill instill in246Table 23A participation profile comparing time of initial interviews with time ofcall-backs -- in descending order by incomeSubject^Interview 1^Status^Call-back^Status^If not, why?25^Oct. 87^yes^Nov. 90^no^too busy6^Apr. 87^no^Nov. 90^no22^Sept. 87^no^Nov. 90^no26^Oct. 87^no^Nov. 90^no34^July 88^no^Nov. 90^no29^Feb. 88^yes^Nov. 90^yes5^Mar. 87^yes^Nov. 90^no^work interfered1^Nov. 86^no^Nov. 90^no19^Aug. 87^no^not found23^Nov. 87^no^Nov. 90^no16^Aug. 87^yes^Nov. 90^no^too busy40^July 89^yes^Nov. 90^yes28^Jan. 88^yes^Nov. 90^yes15^Aug. 87^no^Nov. 90^no38^May 89^no^Nov. 90^no12^July 87^yes^Nov. 90^no^too busy18^Sept. 87^yes^Nov. 90^yes27^Nov. 87^no^Nov. 90^no21^Sept. 87^yes^Nov. 90^yes30^Feb. 88^yes^Nov. 90^yesTable 23 cont'dSubject Interview 1 Status Call-back Status If not, why?8 June 87 no Nov. 90 no33 Mar. 88 yes Nov. 90 yes7 May 87 yes Nov. 90 no too busy3 Jan. 87 yes Nov. 90 no too busy39 June 89 yes Nov. 90 no too busy11 July 87 yes Nov. 90 yes13 Aug. 87 yes Nov. 90 yes10 July 87 yes not found9 June 87 yes not found31 Feb. 88 yes not found35 Mar. 89 yes Nov. 90 no no tutor time37 May 89 yes Nov. 90 no too busy2 Dec. 86 yes Nov. 90 no lost teacher32 Feb. 88 yes not found36 May 89 yes Nov. 90 no critical tutor20 Aug. 87 no not found24 Oct. 87 yes Nov. 90 no little tutor time4 Feb. 87 yes Nov. 90 no no reason17 Aug. 87 yes Nov. 90 yes14 Aug. 87 yes not found247248Table 24Interviewees' responses to whether they would take another literacy coursen=32Yes 21 %Maybe 35 %No 44 %Table 25Problems with literacy courses identified by intervieweesn=32Outside Pressures 25 %Poor Teaching 32 %Trouble Learning 13 %Don't Need to Learn 6 %Little Gain 24 %249Table 26Interviewees' reasons for taking literacy coursesn=32Personal Growth:not specifically^ 53.5%instrumental, i.e.,to read for pleasureInstrumental:to get a job^ 14%do a better job 9%Changing Circumstances:e.g., more free time^ 14%Outside Pressures:direct suggestions orfear of exposure^ 8%Not Sure^ 2.5%APPENDIX DDATA ON PERCEPTIONSTable 27A summary of responses of interviewees to questions dealing with things that have had agreat effect on their livesWeakness^Strength^Experience^Othersn = 40^ 3^11^11^13Table 28A summary of the initial responses of interviewees to, "Do you believe that you can besuccessful at things you set out to do ?"n=40Outright yes^ 20Qualified yes * 17Qualified no ** 1Outright no 2* for example, "within limits", "sometimes", or "I guess", or "not totally".** for example, "I can do better but I don't know how".250251Table 29A summary of responses of interviewees concerning why they do or do not believe that theycan do things they set out to don=40Qualifying conditions^ 13Confidence Sources + 28Sources of Anxiety + + 13Non-response 10* all of these qualifiers were positive** two of these qualifiers were positive+ includes things such as mental ability, God, and desire+ + includes things such as age, intelligence, and educationTable 30A summary of sources of confidence as mentioned by interviewees. Sources of confidenceare things, other than success, that give strength.n=40Mental Ability (e.g. intelligence) 3Mental Strength(e.g., set my mind) 12Suitable Circumstances 9Physical Ability 1Faith in Self 1Faith in God 1252Table 31Areas of confidence mentioned by interviewees. Areas of confidence are things that aperson feels he can do well.n =40Mechanical work^ 13Working with hands 2Making things/carpentry 3My job^ 2Table 32Areas of anxiety mentioned by intervieweesn=40Education/School^ 3Spelling/Writing 4Reading^ 5Arithmetic 2Paperwork-Business^ 1Bookkeeping 1Dealing with Professionals 1Driver's License 1253Table 33Responses of interviewees concerning where they learned to be responsibleSources^ n=40Experiences 20Internally^ 6Other People 18Don't Know 7Table 34What interviewees considered to be their greatest responsibilityn=40Immediate Family^ 15Outside Responsibilities 4Personal or Self 10Don't Know^ 5* as can be seen by the totals for each group, some mentioned more than one thingTable 35Reasons why it is acceptable to quit a job mentioned by intervieweesn=40Something Wrong With Job^ 37Wanting to Improve 9Already Have a New Job 13Miscellaneous *^ 4* indicates, health, retiring, and moving254Table 36Sources of pride of interviewees as mentioned in first responsesn=40Others^ 6Self * 29Don't know 5* this heading includes personal achievements, qualities, and possessionsTable 37A summary of the things that interviewees were proud ofn=40Personal Qualities^ 14Personal Achievements 43Special Skills 14Total Internal/Personal 71Possessions^ 12People 30Associations with others^ 9Total External 51255Table 38A summary of the things that interviewees were not so proud ofn=40Poor Education^ 14Personal Weaknesses 14Controllable Situations 17Uncontrollable Situations^ 3Denial^ 5Total 53Table 39A summary of how interviewees knew if they had done a good jobn=40Self Recognition^ 22Recognition by Others 15Don't Know 3256Table 40A summary of how interviewees feel about other people's opinionsn=40Important 15Not Important 4Qualified Yes/No 25Totals^* 44* some people offered more than one response while others did not respondThese responses were not tied to specific people very often. A wife was mentioned once,a boss twice, seniors once, and a paying person once.Table 41A summary of first responses to questions on how these interviewees learn something newn=40Find an Expert 11Ask 7Watch 6Don't Know 2Listen 1It Depends 2It Comes Naturally 2Wife 2Friend 2Get a Book 1Make Notes 1Phone 1Avoid Reading/Writing 1Get the Basics 1257Table 42A summary of the different methods which interviewees use to learn something newn=40Find an Expert 15Ask 15Observe 18Trial and Error 6Practise 1Wife 7Listen 3Phone 2Solve Problems 3Read 5Friend 2Pay Attention 1Analyze 3Television 2Make Mistakes 1Avoid Reading 4Use A Manual 2Make Notes 1Symbolic Drawings 1Brother 1School 1Use Pictures 2It Depends 2It Comes Naturally 2Prepare in Advance 1Put Information in Own Ideas 2Volunteer 1Don't Know 1258Table 43A summary of the number of learning methods per person mentioned by intervieweesn=40None 2One 9Two 11Three 9Four 5Five 5Table 44A comparison of the steps interviewees employ when learning something newSteps Mentioned n=40Source Only 1Acquisition Only 4Source + Acquisition 22Acquisition + Use 0Source, Acquisition + Use 10Don't Know 1Never Tried 1Learned on My Own 1259Table 45A summary of the responses of interviewees to what a person has to be better at because hecan not read or writen=40Communicating 9Fitting In/not Being Obvious 6Deception 1Being Careful 1Thinking Skills 9Memory 3Noticing 3Hard Work/High Standards 7Being More Qualified 1Protecting Your Rights 1Total Responses 41Can't Think of Anything 9Nothing 7Table 46A summary of things interviewees felt they were personally good atn=40Hands/Mechanical 20Positive Attitudes 18Mental Abilities/Memory 13/5Social Skills 5Communication 12Observing 3Specific Job Skills 4Totals 70260Table 47A summary of the strategies employed by interviewees to keep people from discovering theirilliteracyStrategies n=40Total 68Never Had To 2I Don't Use Any 13I Just Tell People 1Unobtrusive * 15Avoidance - wander off, take home 7Deception - e.g., forgot glasses 16Support Materials ** 12People-Voluntary - wife or secretary 4People-Involuntary *** 8Asking For Help 4Guessing 2* examples would be casual conversations, or staying in the background.** using the black book, phone book, card index etc.*** asking for a summary, asking someone to write their name down. You are gettingsomeone to do it for you even though he or she does not know what is going on.261Table 48A summary of the alternatives to reading employed by intervieweesAlternatives^ n=40Asking 31Observing 16Television^ 15Wives 8Radio 11Telephone 9Listening^ 4Talking 5Trial and Error 4Having a Meeting^ 1Using Tapes 2Using Pictures 2Manuals^ 1Analyzing 1Making Notes 1Being Shown 1Brother^ 1Tricking Others 1Secretary 1Preparing in Advance^ 1Memory^ 1262Table 49A summary of the alternatives to writing employed by intervieweesAlternatives^ n=40Wife 10Others do Forms 8Little Black Book^ 3Talk^ 5Phone 12Short Notes 6Secretary 2Others make models^ 2Memory^ 1Trick Others 1Photos 1Ask for Spelling Help^ 1Make a Spelling List 1Tapes^ 1Check-off sheets^ 2263Table 50A summary of the importance of memory as reported by intervieweesn=40Do You Have a Good Memory ?^Yes^ 32Fair 6No 2What Are You Good at Remembering ?Past^ 6Work Things 14Only What is Needed 1How Much Must You Remember ?Not Much^ 6Vague Responses 14Do You Have Ways of Improving Memory ?Symbols 4Word Associations 2Rhymes 2Limiting Amounts 2Using Notes 4Labelling 1Colour Coding 1264Table 51Responses and numbers of different responses of interviewees to the question "What do youdo for fun or entertainment?"n =40Total ResponsesDifferent responsesActivities for 1 or 2Activities for 3 to 10Activities for 10 or moreHigh cost activitiesMedium cost activitiesLow cost activitiesExclusive activities1277446%33%21%27%34%39%campingweightshuntingwrestling on TVcottagedrinkingconcertschurchdining outcoin collectingmini golfstamp collectingbowlingmotorcyclinglong driveslisten to wife play piano265Table 52Types of people interviewees prefer to socialize withn =40Total responses 84Different responses 57Ordinary/Plain Folks 7Serious Minded 12Humorous/Happy 12Outgoing/Extroverted 15Quiet/Introverted 2Treat Others Well 7Avoid Trouble 9Variety 4Doesn't Matter 3Age Matters 6Similar 4Miscellaneous 3266Table 53Interviewees' reported involvement in clubs and groupsn=40Any Involvement 31Presently Involved 16Church 18Legion 5Sports 8Service Clubs 5Business Clubs 2Investment Clubs 1Support Groups 2Antique Cars 1Union 2Ethnic Club 1Radio Clubs 1Barbershoppers 1St. John's Ambulance 1Community basedLibrary board 1Food Bank 1267Table 54A summary of responses of interviewees to questions about the problems faced because ofilliteracyn=40Can't Read for Pleasure 7Reading/Filling Out Forms 15Everyday Things * 20Being Embarrassed 8Fear/Avoidance 14Dependence 6Hard to Get Work 5Can't Reach Goals 3Extra Costs 1Going Out Socially 3Tests 2Being Uninformed 3Totals 87Total Different 51Total Exclusive 33* includes shopping, prescriptions, getting around, giving information, recipes, andmeasuring268Table 55A summary of the solutions to illiteracy problems mentioned by intervieweesn=40My Wife Helps 17I Avoid It 14Others Help 10Take It Home 1Ask 1Go Out With Friends 1Fake It 1Pay Costs 1Take a Literacy Class 1Go Slowly 1Table 56A summary of the views of interviewees concerning how success can be achievedn=40Total Number of Ways 167Product 12 7%Process 37 22%Attitudes 90 54%Mental Abilities 17 10%Physical Abilities 5 3%Outside Help 6 4%269Table 57A summary of the views of interviewees concerning what success isn=40Stability- steady work^ 5- family life 11- financial 13- balance work/play 3Possessions^ 8People's Opinions 3Having Friends^ 6Feelings- happiness 8- self-satisfaction^ 7- comfort 1- confidence 1Can Read and Write^ 3270Table 58Involvement of interviewees in literacy programsHave Tried^Presently In^NeverTriedn=40^ 34^26*^6* 1 is presently in a grade 12 diploma programTable 59A summary of the locations of the neighbourhoods of the interviewees in this studyn=39*Rural^ 9City under 30,000^ 4City - 30-300,000- core 3- 1st ring 5- 2nd ring^ 6City over 300,000- core 4- suburb^ 5* one interviewee lived in a city over 300,000 but would not indicate where271Table 60A summary of "I don't know" respondentsn=40One "I Don't Know" Response^ 7Two "I Don't Know" Responses 1Three "I Don't Know" Responses 1Four "I Don't Know" Responses^ 2Table 61A summary of the views of interviewees concerning why so many Canadians areunemployedn = 40Government^ 1Easy to get welfare 5The system 2Immigration^ 4Automation 3Businesses closing 1Low pay^ 1Unions 1Hard to get experience^ 1Imports^ 1No work 2Laziness 14Won't work for low wages^ 2Scared to ask for help 2Illiteracy^ 10TOTAL 50APPENDIX EINFORMATION ARISING FROM THE INTERVIEW PROCESSThe process of conducting this study has uncovered much useful information forprospective researchers interested in working in the literacy field. The following briefaccounts provide an explanation for setting up and conducting interviews.Setting up InterviewsThe process of setting up interviews provided some interesting information aboutliteracy-work gatekeepers, attitudes concerning keeping appointments, where people feel mostcomfortable being interviewed, and the problems of scheduling.Gatekeepers. In this study literacy-work gatekeepers were those people who wereproviders of literacy education or who, because of their work in the literacy field, hadknowledge concerning who was illiterate and who might prove to be candidates forinterviewing. Since this group was perceived to be one of the primary, initial contacts withthe illiterate community, several literacy education providers were contacted during thecourse of this research. In all, fifteen groups or individuals were contacted. Of these,thirteen appeared to be quite willing to facilitate contact with illiterate candidates; however,only eleven actually produced contacts. The two who did not provide contacts appearedoutwardly to be very supportive.272273Several reasons for an apparent unwillingness to cooperate appeared. First, manyproviders were very protective both of the privacy and of the self-esteem of the illiteratepeople with whom they worked. Arlene Fingeret (1982a), encountered the same attitude.The gatekeepers may regard illiteracy as a shameful condition about which one must alwaysbe defensive. If the gatekeepers believe that their students should be ashamed and defensive,the students could find this out over time and it could influence their attitudes toward theprogram. It may also be that the gatekeepers are simply being kind and protective. Sadly,the result may still be the same. Instead of emphasizing the strengths of the illiterate person,they are emphasizing the weaknesses. In the end, the illiterate adult loses because of toolittle encouragement to participate in the literate world. Second, providers in large centresoften receive requests from researchers and have found it practical to have a blanket policyof saying no. Third, many people may have been unable to understand what the researchwas about. Several times during the course of this research, prospective interviewees wereidentified by providers and then proved to be ineligible because they did not meet the criteriaof the study. Part of this confusion may have been caused by the fact that many literacyproviders were volunteers and had had little if any experience with research at any level.Fourth, it appeared that making face-to-face contact with gatekeepers was important. Peopleseemed to be more willing to cooperate if they could actually see the researcher and make ajudgment on his honesty and sincerity. It is worth noting that as a group, the gatekeeperswere far more concerned about the privacy and self-esteem of the illiterate group than werethe illiterate adults themselves.274Attitudes. Prospective interviewees were usually good about keeping appointments;however, there were instances when this was not the case. Each involved the interviewer'sdriving over sixty miles and involved the loss of several hours of possible interview time. Inthe first instance the man failed to show up at the appointed place and time and when calledsaid that he was on his way to church. This failure to show up was attributed, by theinterviewer, to not keeping a record of the interview. When attempts were made tore-schedule the interview, it proved to be impossible and this person was lost as aninterviewee. The second instance involved driving to the same general area again to meetanother man. When he did not show up, phone calls were made and he refused to come tothe phone. When the help of the contact person (his literacy coordinator) was sought, shereceived the same treatment. The man had seemed very keen when he had initially beencontacted, yet he acted very strangely later. It was never possible to find out the cause ofthese actions.The attitudes described here seem to run counter to those expressed in Chapter 6concerning attitudes toward keeping appointments and being late. On the other hand, theyreflect actions by a small group. These actions may well reflect the actions of people whobecame afraid of the possible contact for whatever reason. It seems unlikely that their tutorshad anything to do with promoting their fear since there were several other members of thesame program who continued and were valuable and dependable interviewees.A second interesting attitude involved how the interviewees felt about beinginterviewed. With only one exception, interviewees warmed to the experience very quickly.In fact, they appeared to feel a certain honour at being asked to share their opinions on275things. It is true that some people had very little to say but it seemed that this was more aresult of their having few opinions than of their being loathe to talk.Interview locations. Of the forty interviews conducted, twenty-three were conductedin the interviewees' homes; twelve were conducted in a neutral area; two were conducted inthe interviewees' offices; one was conducted in the interviewer's home; and two wereconducted over the telephone (one of these men lived 900 miles from the interviewer and theother about 3,000 miles). Of the twelve conducted in a neutral area, nine were conducted inquiet spaces at the learning centres which these men were attending. In most cases, this wasdone because the time that they were at their courses was the most convenient time to gettogether with the interviewer. Except for two interviewees, who absolutely did not want tobe interviewed at home, it did not really seem to matter where the interview took placealthough it would appear that most people preferred to be in familiar surroundings such as athome or at school. Other locations used for interviews were the interviewees' personaloffices (2) and a public library (1).Scheduling. The scheduling of interviews proved to be much more difficult thanexpected. Perhaps an early bias on the part of the interviewer assumed that illiterate adults,especially those who were less successful, would be less busy than other people. In fact, thiswas not true at all. They conducted their affairs much the same as all other people do.They had work schedules, shopping activities, social activities, and children's activities. Inaddition, several people were trying to fit literacy classes into this maze of daily, life (fifteenless successful and ten more successful). Consequently, when it came to coordinating the276interviewee and interviewer schedules, there were often problems. In some cases, this mayeven have led to the loss of candidates.One important thing that was noticed was that too long a gap between the initial contactwith the prospective candidate and the actual first interview increased the chance that theinterviewee might change his mind. This happened once and may have been a factor in twoor three other instances. The first of these situations arose quite early in the interviewingprocess and care was taken to avoid this kind of situation; however, it was not alwayspossible to be sure that the first interview would either coincide with the initial contact orwould come sufficiently soon after to eliminate the potential for losing the candidate.Conducting InterviewsWhile interviews were being conducted, some interesting but unanticipated observationswere made. These observations concerned the length of interviews, the general feelings ofcandidates, the way the interviewees tended to treat the interviewer, and candidates' ways ofinterpreting questions.Because an important goal of the interviewing process was to allow the intervieweeto set the pace and to tell what it was that he wanted to say, it was both impossible andundesirable to make all of the interviews uniform in length and content. As much as waspossible, the initial interview followed the same course and took approximately the sameamount of time; the second interview varied considerably. The second interview ranged inlength from two and a half to six hours and the average was about three and one half hours.277The more successful financially tended to use more time for interviews for a number ofreasons. They appeared to have more to say in general and specifically had more to saywhen talking about work and other personal achievements. They also appeared to be muchmore outgoing and positive. Indeed, none of the elements of despair which were sometimesevident among the less successful ever showed with the more successful. All men weregenerally willing to cooperate in the interview; the more successful group though tended totreat it almost as a social activity and seemed to enjoy the experience. Of the ten lesssuccessful men interviewed in their own homes, only three offered any kind of refreshmentsto the interviewer. Of the fifteen more successful men interviewed on their own turf (eitherhome or office), twelve offered refreshments ranging from coffee or tea through to amidnight snack and a restaurant dinner. All in all, the more successful men tended to bemore outgoing than did the less successful.It did not appear that the interviewees interpreted questions differently as a whole.What did appear to happen was that men tended to respond to questions in ways thatappeared to be more dependent on their experiences than on their ways of decoding or theirability to think. For example, some gave highly organized and specific responses to thequestion "How would you describe a typical day at work?" These responses came from menwho generally had had more interesting jobs which allowed for a certain amount ofself-motivation. Conversely, those who tended to be very vague about time andorganization were either self-employed or unemployed.The above comments are the result of this interviewer's observations throughout thecourse of conducting interviews. Some are based on objective data and some are the result278of sensing what was going on. Whatever their source, they constitute perceptions which maybe worth pursuing further.APPENDIX FEXPANDED METHODOLOGY NOTESThe notes in this appendix provide expanded information on aspects of the researchmethodology and may be helpful to anyone interested in conducting a similar study.Methods of Identifying SubjectsThe following notes describe the various methods employed for identifying subjects forthis study, the results of each method, and some of the problems identified with eachapproach.Media sources. Newspapers, television, and radio were used to recruit subjects.The first two contacts were with local newspaper reporters. One, a business columnistwith a human interest focus, wrote a short piece explaining who was sought for the studyplus a name and number to contact. It was felt he might have contacted successful illiteratebusinessmen even though claiming to be unaware of any. No candidates resulted from thiscontact. The second reporter wrote human interest columns mainly concentrating on ruralareas around the study centre. He provided the name of a man who had run a familybusiness for years and never attended school; however, when contacted, this man claimedthat he was quite capable of reading and writing and did not wish to be part of the study.279280The third and fourth contacts involved a local radio station and the local televisionstation. It was hypothesized that if illiterate people were willing to talk about their views,they might not fear calling a person offering them an opportunity to express their opinions.It was felt also, that this exposure would indicate the usefulness of these contact methods.The radio phone-in show was a local middle-of-the-road station. Although not the mostpopular station, it was expected to have an audience more likely to include those sought forthe study than the local rock station. The interview took place at about 11:00 AM on aMonday morning for about ten minutes. A lack of response was attributed to three things:first, most successful illiterate adults would be working then; second, the apparent network(Fingeret 1983, 133-46) was either not listening or being protective; and third, the stationsimply had a small audience. The fourth contact involved appearing on the local televisionmorning talk show. This interview lasted about seven minutes and left the interviewer withan impression of having been used as filler. No responses occurred, probably for similarreasons.The fifth contact was on another radio talk show with a much larger audience (2-4million) on the provincial network of the national radio station. It was hoped that the largeraudience and the preferable time (12:55 PM) would bring better results. The interviewitself, about five minutes, was tagged onto the issue of increased government funding forliteracy education. Two responses resulted: first, a lady listening in her car said she rushedhome to say she wanted to help teach illiterates; second, a man in a large city called to sayhe could read well enough but had trouble writing. He managed a small company at thetime. It did not appear worthwhile following up with this man since he was convinced that281he could read; to pursue him would cast doubt on his credibility and not lead to a positiverelationship for interviewing.The sixth attempt involved writing to a small town weekly newspaper. Reachingilliterate adults directly was a remote possibility, but this newspaper was worth an attemptbecause it differed significantly from traditional newspapers. This small-town newspaperwas developing a national bi-monthly edition to be sold across Canada. This paper mightreach people otherwise without access to large city media, and people with different interestsfrom the readers of the large, self-proclaimed national newspapers. No responses resulted.Three months into the data collection, an attempt was made to increase awareness ofthe study by getting on a nationally broadcast interview show. Accordingly, letters were sentto the host of a Saturday morning interview show with a regular and long-standing audiencebroadcast on the national network and to the host of a west-coast late night phone-in showbroadcast widely in the country by independent networks. These shows might reach a wide,varied audience. The west coast station management were not very positive; they had littleinterest in hooking up with an Easterner and it was not possible to travel west or find asubstitute to do so. The national network was different; a very reasonable ten to fifteenminute interview was broadcast at about 8:45 AM on a Saturday morning. This was themost successful of all of the media contacts; several responses resulted. One came from aman living approximately two hundred miles away who had been diagnosed as learningdisabled. A second came from a woman heading a new literacy initiative in a near-by city(this contact eventually led to a number of interviews). A third came from over five hundredmiles away from a man who could read only his name, yet owned a thriving business. A282fourth came from a woman with problems remembering things that she tried to learnalthough she could read and write. A fifth came from a literacy tutor in the local area. Aninteresting coincidence was involved with this response. Both he and the man he wastutoring heard the interview; however, neither had been able to get the proper phone numberwritten out. The tutor was driving on the highway, and the man learning to read was sittingin his car outside of a supermarket waiting. He was talking to a friend during the interviewand only caught part of the number. Between them, they pieced together enough informationto reach the researcher. This took one month even though everyone lived in the same city.In total, this one radio interview led to five interviewees. The increased success was likelyattributable to a number of factors such as the increased audience, the day of the week, thewarmth of the host, and the particular type of person which this show attracted. Theaudience tends to be middle-aged and very interested in human-interest stories.The eighth media contact involved a longer radio interview coinciding withInternational Literacy Day. It was arranged by the woman who responded to the nationalradio interview, and who had set up a literacy program in a nearby city. The interviewlasted over twenty minutes and was broadcast live at about 12:00 noon. The interviewinvolved a general discussion of literacy concerns as well as a discussion of the researchstudy itself. This interview led to two immediate contacts and a referral. One of the twoinitial calls proved quite useful, while the second came from a man who could read and writequite well but who was interested in my research since he had been unable to find a job forabout six months and was being told that he was over-qualified. The referral almost fivemonths later came from the contact person who set up the interview initially. This man had283heard the Literacy Day interview and had called her to sign up for tutoring. He was thenreferred to the researcher for the study.Three other attempts to make contact through the media were made. The first was witha new FM station in a small city about forty miles from the interviewer's home. The contactperson at the station lost interest. The second involved contacting Peter Calamai, author ofthe Southam report (Calamai 1987a) in the hope that he might be able to refer candidatessince some identified in the survey appeared qualified as successful according to the study'scriteria. He was unable to offer any help since the biographical information indicating a"successful illiterate adult" was unavailable (Calamai, telephone interview Nov. 4, 1987b).The third attempt was made at the national radio station again with a different talk-showhost. The producer of the show, which airs nationally Monday through Friday from 9:00AM - 12:00 noon was not interested in interviewing the researcher but wanted three or foursuccessful illiterate adults to come on the show. This idea was dropped since without theresearcher, there would be little likelihood of acquiring interviewees.The media approaches proved moderately successful: seven subjects were contacted,five of whom were fully employed. Within the general category of media contacts, thoseinvolving radio were the most useful, producing all of the above contacts. Within the radiocategory, the national coverage proved best. In terms of timing, it is difficult to say whichtime was better since the 8:45 AM time produced six candidates and the 12:00 noon shows(local and provincial) produced one and no candidates respectively. The longer interviews(fifteen and twenty-five minutes) conducted on the shows with more relaxed interviewersproduced all the contacts.284Literacy programs. The most commonly used and most successful method in terms oftotal numbers was the teacher-contact method (30 of 40 contacts). Key teachers orcoordinators of literacy programs throughout an area within sixty to eighty miles werecontacted to see if they could refer either candidates for interviews or other teachers whomight have contacts. Admittedly, the initial intention had been that literacy programs mightprove useful sources of illiterate adults who might know others not attending programs(Fingeret 1982a, 376-384). In this way, people who were not particularly concerned aboutbecoming literate could be identified. However, it became apparent quickly that it was goingto be extremely difficult to identify people not attached to literacy programs. In the firstplace, the earliest attempts at using media contacts provided no responses. Second, the firstcontacts among those attending literacy programs were not forthcoming with names ofilliterate non-attenders. Finally, the other two contact methods, personal acquaintances andprofessional associations, were providing sporadic leads in the case of the former and none inthe case of the latter. In addition, it was determined that the more crucial qualifications forinclusion would be a good income and a good employment record as clearer measures ofsuccess than not attending a literacy class. Thus a decision was made that, from a practicalstandpoint, not being involved in a literacy program was not an essential criterion forinclusion. Consequently, literacy programs were viewed as possible sources of candidates.Nineteen literacy programs were contacted. Their support or associations were asfollows: two with the Laubach system, four public school boards, two Roman Catholicschool boards, one with a community college, one a combined university/Laubach project,and nine by government ministry(ies). Their responses varied and the results are indicative285of the level of support. Public school programs provided ten candidates, separate schoolboards two, Laubach two, the community college four, and the government programs six.No obvious patterns emerged within the literacy-program group in terms of what kindof organization was most helpful or what kind of organization had the most usefulcandidates, but some statements can be made concerning experiences and knowledge gainedwhen contacting potential sources.The best support came from board of education leaders, trained educators, and peoplefamiliar with the researcher.Meeting people directly improved the cooperation level. One Laubach leader seemedsupportive but never offered anything concrete until met in person.Many literacy leaders and teachers are overly protective of the learner's privacy asFingeret found (1982a). This protectiveness seems to arise from three sources: first,illiterate adults being ashamed must be protected from having to reveal weaknesses; second,some leaders are sensitive about the issue of embarrassment because of their being formerilliterates; third, many literacy centres, especially those in larger cities with universities, arepestered by researchers whose intentions may not serve the learners' needs. If this study isany indication, illiterate adults, especially successful ones, appear quite willing to talk. Intruth, they most often prefer to remain anonymous, but they seem to want to share theirstories and help others.Apparently, it is not a good idea to contact a potential candidate far ahead of theexpected interview time. In this study, four candidates were lost possibly because they hadtime to change their minds or they perhaps felt that the time lag indicated a lack of interest286by the interviewer. In one case, the man's son told him to not get involved. It is difficult todetermine why; however, the son taught school for the local board and perhaps feared thatexposure of his father might affect him. In all cases, anonymity was guaranteed to the extentcontrolled by the interviewer.Some people pay no attention to descriptions or do not write them down. Severaltimes, at the first interview the candidate was found not to meet the age criterion. Thisbecame frustrating especially when two to three hours of driving had been required.Four times during the course of the interviewing, prospective interviewees failed tokeep appointments. Once the missed interview was only ten to fifteen miles away but threetimes the drive was over sixty miles. None of the men included in the study was ever late.Sometimes people within the same organization had different points of view regardingstudent contact with outsiders. Negotiation with the boss was necessary in order to avoidembarrassment for any party.Offering to provide feedback to the instructor seemed to help those who saw this studyas dealing with legitimate concerns both of illiterate adults and of literacy providers. Thisoffer appeared to assure the teacher that this project was not intended to be a quickin-and-out to benefit only the researcher. Literacy instructors cared deeply about whathappened to their students and to their programs.People were most cooperative generally; only a small minority were obstructive oruncooperative.It appeared helpful to make the initial contact through a third person except wheninterviewees were identified through radio interviews. The third person, usually a trusted287friend or teacher, appeared to lend credibility to the researcher and fostered a mutualunderstanding from the outset.Related organizations. One related national organization, the Canadian Federation ofIndependent Business, was approached. It acts on behalf of small businesses lobbying withvarious governments on various issues. This association might have some successfulilliterate adults owning their own businesses. But, the leaders knew of no discreet way tocontact people without causing them to feel that they or some of their colleagues weresuspect. As before, when potential contacts were uneasy, the issue was not pursued.Casual and professional acquaintances. This source of interviewees is worth notingeven though it did not result from a carefully planned strategy. It arose almostserendipitously from an expanding network of people hearing of the research project eitherthrough direct conversations with the researcher or with other members of the network. Thisapproach provided several possible contacts, four of them useful. One came from a dentalappointment, one from a member of the church the researcher was attending at the time, onefrom long-time friends whose former neighbour could not read, and one from theresearcher's family. Perhaps if there is a moral to this story, it is that sometimes it is goodto talk about one's work, even to people thought to be uninterested.Professional associations. From the time that the researcher began to develop theconcept and then the proposal, a plan was implemented to present papers at conferences.Papers were presented at The Midwest Research-To-Practice Conference in DeKalb, Illinois,in September of 1984; The Commission on Adult Basic Education Conference (COABE) atMontreal, Quebec, in April of 1985; and The Literacy Now ! Conference in St. John, New288Brunswick, in November 1985. At each conference, the pending research was well received,especially Montreal where an additional session was scheduled to meet the demand. Besidespresenting papers, the researcher also attended conferences to meet literacy experts and seekadvice: the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) in Syracuse in 1986, theAmerican Association for Adult and Continuing Education Conference (AAACE) inWashington, DC in 1987, and the COABE Conference in Atlanta in 1989.The process of identifying a population was a complicated and frustrating affair;however, the methods employed did lead to sufficient numbers to meet the originalexpectation of forty subjects. Because of this experience, using a blanket telephoningapproach was not employed.Possible identification or selection bias is treated in "Representativeness of the Sample"in Chapter 3.Collection of DataThis section includes a complete description of interview conditions for this study.Interview ConditionsThe foremost concern at the outset was for the comfort of interviewees with thelocation and interview conditions. As much as possible the interviewer attempted to controlinterview conditions but, if an interviewee expressed concern, it was more important toretain the interviewee than to worry about risks to comparability of data created by small289variations in setting. The comfort and confidence of the interviewee were deemed to playgreater roles in bringing out true feelings than would a carefully controlled environment.Aspects of the interview environment being identified are here described.Length. The average length of the interviews was three and one half hours with arange of two and one half to six hours. Generally the more successful financially appearedto elaborate more frequently.Number of visits. The number of visits per interviewee ranged from one to four.An attempt was made to complete one of the interviews per visit; however, this wasnot always possible for various reasons such as distance, the interviewee's working schedule,the lack of a place to conduct the interview other than in an empty classroom or office, or aninterviewee's desire to complete the process. Twelve times, the interviews had to beconducted back-to-back.Four times, interviews could not be completed in one or two visits, as when only smallamounts of time were available to meet or when the interviewee had a lot to say.Flexibility turned out to be a useful quality for an interviewer; it meant responding toan interviewee's needs and schedule plus setting up a schedule that precluded rushing awaywhen an interviewee showed a need or an interest in talking. It became apparent interviewswith different interviewees should never be set up back-to-back. In fact, it was best not toplan anything immediately following an interview to eliminate pressure on theinterviewee/interviewer relationship.Location. Twenty-three interviews were conducted in interviewees' homes, six inempty classrooms, six in neutral offices, one in a library, one in the interviewer's home, one290in an interviewee's office, and two by phone. Neutral and classroom sites were used eitherbecause the interviewer was not invited to the interviewee's home or because interviews tookplace during working or school hours. The two conducted by phone resulted from theinterviewees' being 900 and 3,000 miles away.Order. All interviews were conducted in the order intended: the structured interviewwas always first and all the structured interview questions were asked in the same order.Ta in^All interviews except one were taped. This exception occurred because theinterviewee did not trust the interviewer entirely. Half way through the interview, headmitted that he feared the interviewer might be a spy for his boss, that he might lose his jobif his boss found out his illiteracy. Having admitted this, he was still unwilling to be taped.Interruptions. Almost all the interviews were free of interruptions except for thoseexpected to occur in a domestic setting -- phone calls, children, or wives. Theseinterruptions did not appear to put any interviewee off at any time.Involvement by others. In five of the interviews someone else was present for sometime. The range was from about ten minutes to the about two hours. In no case did anyobservers offer any information; however, the odd time a man might seek verification of apoint from his wife. Usually these involved things such as dates or events in the past. Inone case an interviewee actually sought information from his wife who was not in the sameroom during the interview. When the one wife stayed the entire time, two factors mighthave affected this. One, the interviewer conjectured that the couple had a very closerelationship. The other was an unassailable fact. The kitchen in which the interview291occurred was the only room where there was a heating stove; the interview was in earlyMarch.Conducting InterviewsThe first interview covered the questions in exactly the order determined; during the secondinterview, some liberties were taken with the order of the questions. Each area of possibledifference was probed.Information requested on call-backs included wives' and parents' education andreading abilities, parents' employment, and attitudes concerning literacy programs. Contactwith literacy programs among subjects interviewed had occurred more often than had beenoriginally predicted, so motives among those attending were investigated.Among weaknesses made obvious after pilot testing were these:Objective distance. Initially, objectivity was difficult to maintain because theinterviewees were so friendly. An eye towards the primary purpose helped here:friendliness toward the interviewees did not detract from the gathering of the necessaryinformation.Interviewer interruption. The interviewer's urge to fill the silence when respondentstook time to answer intermittently handicapped the interview process. A little patience hadto be learned in order to allow people to respond at their own pace.Interviewer interpretations. Also a sign of impatience was the interviewer's initialtendency to offer interpretations to interviewees when they appeared perplexed or engaged in292thought. This was inappropriate and unnecessary. Mustering a little patience or returning tothe question were the eventual ways of avoiding this kind of built in bias.Third person interference. On one occasion a third person present for the interviewactually answered for the interviewee. Having a third person in the room during aninterview was undesirable from the point of view of objectivity, even if such a person were asubject's literate guide or moral support. The presence of third parties was thereforediscouraged, but not forbidden if the interviewee seemed set on having the person there.This happened five times.Synonyms. Words not understood by interviewees were replaced with others similarin meaning. The use of synonyms, especially in the scheduled, structured interview, madecomparisons difficult, perhaps influencing responses in relation to what they might have beenhad the synonym not been offered. Language that proved to be problematic was changed.The word "success", for instance, could be replaced right from the beginning of theinterview, using it only later in the questioning. In the meantime it would be possible to usethe term as an adjective at different times in the interview. Another word dropped from usein questions was "goal".Social greeting. The sometimes awkward cordialities on first meeting were notalways captured on tape, especially if the interview took place in the subject's home. Apartial solution evolved from the fact that initial contacts were eventually made most often byphone. In the end the taping usually began shortly after meeting.Pressing questions. Questions finding awkward or unwilling respondents were notalways pursued in deference to the subject and in recognition of the open-ended nature of the293second interview. An acknowledgement of the importance of the information sought and awillingness to assure shy or diffident respondents helped alleviate this problem. Also, thestandardizing of initial questions in the second interview allowed for further elaboration andsubsequent questions if necessary.APPENDIX GMOVEMENT FOR CANADIAN LITERACYLETTERThis appendix includes a copy of a mailing sent to members of The Movement forCanadian Literacy in July of 1987. The "Open Letter" on page 296 appeared inMaclean's magazine on page 3 on November 9, 1987.294The lltement Cumdian Literael^295Racism*lenient eanadienpour Pal phabelisallon P.O. Box 6366, Station ASaint John, New BrunswickE2L 4R820 July 1987Dear Friends:We invite you to join forces with hundreds of other Canadian organizations and concernedindividuals to send an important message to our governments on the subject of adultliteracy.Who are we? We are a coalition of national organizations [see attached] who have agreedto collaborate to promote adult literacy under the leadership of The Movement for CanadianLiteracy.The enclosed Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the Premiers and TerritorialGovernment Leaders will be placed in full page advertisements to appear in Septemberin the Globe & Mail, in Macleans magazine, and in various newspapers in the SouthamPress chain [depending upon the availability of funds]. While the newspapers will carry thenames of signatories in alphabetical order, the Macleans insertion will carry the messageonly, indicating that the signatories can be identified in newspaper ads appearing the sameweek. Individual names will appear only as space permits.In order to allocate the cost of this message fairly among supporting groups andindividuals, we have agreed upon the following minimum contribution for each signatory:Canada-wide organizations $100Provincial organizations 75Community-based organizations 50Individuals 25To confirm your participation, please send your cheque, payable to "The Movement forCanadian Literacy" and indicate exactly how your organization should be listed in the openletter. If you are able to recruit additional signatories, please do so.We look forward to your favourable and early response!Yours sincerely,Ld1.1114Cathy Wright, PresidentThe Movement for Canadian Literacy andChair of the CoalitionA Challenge for Action on Literacy!An Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the Premiers and Territorial Government Leaders:We write you on an urgent issue.Millions of Canadians cannot participate fully in our society because they cannot read andwrite well enough.Literacy is a right for all Canadians!Citizens read newspapers, books and ballots, and write their elected representatives.Parents read to their children, and read their children's school assignments. Workers fillout job applications and work orders; they read instruction manuals and health and safetymaterials.The Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that all Canadians have the same rights,regardless of age, sex and place of residence.We believe that adults should have free access to basic education, just as children and youthdo.Many adults are studying literacy now, in schools, colleges, community centres andworkplaces. But the ones who study are only a fraction of those who need a second chanceto learn.Literacy must be a priority in Canada. The actions needed are clear.• More literacy programs must be provided• Every level of government must have a policy for literacy, and carry it out.• Learners and literacy workers must help shape policy.• Programs should be learner-centred and diverse.• Literacy programs must have stable funding.• Literacy must be included as part of all government training programs.• Business, labour and government should provide workplace literacy programs.• Literacy Resource Centres are needed across the country.• Government documents must be readable.• The Canadian public must be made aware of the problem and challenged to act.These actions will assist in extending the right to literacy for all Canadians.Add your name to the list of those who support this challenge.2 96Coalition Participants:^ 297Association of Canadian Community CollegesCanadian Association for Adult EducationCanadian Association for Community EducationCanadian Give the Gift of Literacy FoundationFrontier CollegeLaubach Literacy of CanadaThe Movement for Canadian LiteracyWorld Literacy of CanadaWe wish to add our name to the Open Letter to the Prime Minister, the Premiersand Territorial Government Leaders on literacy.Name [to appear in ad]: ^Address:Postal code:Telephone:^[^] ^We fall into the following category:Canada-wide organization [$100 min.]Provincial organization [$75 min.]Community-based organization [$50 min.] ^Individual [$25 min.]Our cheque, payable to "The Movement for Canadian Literacy" is enclosed.Tick here if you need a charitable receipt for tax purposes ^We suggest you contact the following other groups:Name:Address:Telephone:REFERENCESBeder, Hal and Allan Quigley. 1990. 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