I learn a lot about what some people are spewing out there in this new big wide world, (in regards to excuses people make for being less than what they are capable of being) from my husband. Yesterday, on his blog, he wrote:
"Chandra, a "recovering grammar snob" who works as an English teacher, has a smashing trio of essays on Literacy Privilege -- the invisible privilege that accrues to people who have the facility to write well and clearly, and who have absorbed the "correct" conventions of English. I know I've been guilty of dismissing people because of their grammar/spelling errors."
So today it's a privilege to be able to speak and write correctly? Seriously? I didn't have all the advantages of what the youth of today have when I was growing up. My mother was a single mother with a serious illness for the first part of my life. We didn't have a big house. We lived in an apartment complex near Washington, DC.
Growing up I was beaten almost to death by a sibling. I spent time in the hospital recovering from this.
I was put in a home to be watched by an insane woman who locked us in rooms, threw food at us like we were dogs, and pulled us down the stairs by our hair. I lived through this while my mother visited her family for one last time in Italy.
I watched my mother struggle until the illness got the better of her. I lived through a lot, more than what I can comfortably write here at this moment.
I was bullied in school after my mother died for not having a mother.
So, what I didn't do was make excuses for myself. I didn't sit down and feel sorry for myself because life had been hard on me.
I worked to become educated because having an education was important. I was not a person that felt that everything should be handed to me, not even as a child. I learned. I grew. I focused.
I was not given video games to play. I wasn't coddled. When I lost at a sport I did it with grace and an understanding that to become better I needed to practice. If I wanted to develop a sense of pride in an ability I worked to obtain in for myself.
At the age of ten I had developed an impressive vocabulary and took pride in being able to read and write. I worked for every grade I made in school. I read because I knew that reading was a way to gain knowledge. It was a choice.
I studied other languages to develop a better cultural understanding of the world. I was not pompous and arrogant enough to think that it was the responsibility of everyone else to learn to speak to me in my native language. I didn't expect other countries to cater to my English while I sat back and felt superior. I am not superior to others, but I am not inferior to anyone either. I am comfortable with who I am.
Every single day we make choices in our life. English is a dying language because people are becoming lazy. They shorten even simple words to make things in their lives quicker and easier. They don't work on developing skills, and this is not my fault.
I am not living a privileged life. I am living a life I worked to have. I put effort in being able to read well and write legibly. Just because I don't bastardize the English language doesn't make me privileged - it makes me educated. I worked to be educated, and I feel I am better for it.
So no, I don't think those that have been too lazy to work toward reading and writing legibly are to be pitied and catered to. They have had the same, if not better, opportunities to learn and excel. I will not coddle them. They have been coddled for too long by too many, which is perhaps why more and more people fall into that same trap.
Make all the excuses you want, but the truth is this - becoming literate takes work. If you aren't willing to do the work to obtain that talent then it's your own fault. It doesn't make someone that works for it privileged, it means they are just more focused on success.