Every year, a week is set aside for special focus on adult education. We celebrate the excellent work that continues around the nation – even in the second year of a global pandemic – and the successes that are possible due to all that work. And those successes are many!
In many states, including Texas, adult education is linked firmly to employment: The Texas Workforce Commission funds Adult Education & Literacy programs across the state, with the goal of helping adults get the skills they need to be successful in the workplace, earn a high school equivalency, or enter college or career training.
Because of that link between education and the workforce, many of the success we’ll be celebrating during this week focus on the workplace. And why not? After all, adults who increase their literacy earn higher pay, get promoted more often, and have better job security. Furthermore, they report raised confidence and self-esteem, and are more likely to develop leadership skills. All of this results in more teamwork, quicker adoption of new technologies, and an overall higher degree of productivity.
All these things are excellent. They’re worth celebrating, right? Yes, absolutely.
But there’s another half to this week we’re celebrating. It’s not just Adult Education Week, it’s also Family Literacy Week. And in our eagerness to celebrate education success, sometimes families can be overlooked. Let’s not forget the families!
All the education and workplace success in the world loses momentum quickly if the next generation is lagging in school or not developing a love of reading and of learning. Teachers do an amazing job, but they can only do so much – the single biggest indicator of a child’s literacy level is the literacy level of their primary caregiver, usually their mom, sometimes dad, and sometimes a grandparent or other adult carer.
For those caregivers to invest quality time in their kids and their families, they need not only skills, they also need resources; they need books; they need ideas – and they need time (time when they’re not exhausted). Time to be creative, to be curious, and to simply have fun with reading and with learning.
So this Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (September 19 – September 25, 2021), let’s make sure not to forget the families. And in our advocacy and messaging this week, let’s highlight the value to our society in helping caregivers prioritize reading and learning with their kids.
Can we stay in touch? There’s so much to do. And our efforts will be richer and more effective if you’re part of them.
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Sources for information in blog post:
Literacy, Employment and Youth with Learning Disabilities: Aligning Workforce Development Policies and Programs, National Institute for Literacy, 2010
Adult Literacy Facts, ProLiteracy