Letters: Learning to read valuable at any age

Recently a learner of mine read his first book at the age of 60.

Editor:

Recently a learner of mine read his first book at the age of 60.

It was the story of Mary John, Life at Lejac.

It took him three weeks to read it! The book is 43 pages long with 20 words a page.

He has always struggled with literacy, but learned to hide it, as it was necessary.

At the age of 60 my learner is at the reading level of a seven-year-old.

He told me, he related to the book very well as his life was much the same.

You see, he too was sent off to residential school when he was just a little boy. Through 1959 to 1968 when at residential school, he said, “children were being punished for small violations.”

He shared with me that he was always afraid and nervous and found it difficult to concentrate on his studies.

He would wonder how long it would take him to learn; he felt stupid as he could neither understand nor learn anything.

He quickly realized that it would take a long time.

At the age of 16 he left school barely completing Grade 6.

He was a big strapping kid and decided that he would not go on.

Underachievers did not receive any help and he was not ready to learn.

When he left school he had hope that he would succeed and someday master his learning difficulties.

He turned to the bottle early on and a gentle man became an angry man.

Then one day he said he looked in the mirror and said: “that is it for me.”

He did not like what he saw. From that point onward he worked hard as a ranch hand, however, he still was not ready to learn.

It has been 45 years since he left school and here we are finally working on a goal and achieving it together.

It is heart-warming to see the smiles when it is our time to meet.

Shoulders back, big grin, and a new attitude. You see, he is no longer afraid and is now ready to learn.

If you would like more information on the Partner Assisted Learning Program (PAL) contact myself at 250-392-7833 or 250-392-8161 or by e-mail at janette@caribooliteracy.com

Janette Moller is the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy Partner Assisted Learning (PAL) co-ordinator.

Janette Moller

Williams Lake