Literacy and reading comprehension are essential to effective communication and interaction, especially at universities and higher-education institutions. As our society evolves into a technological powerhouse, we must remember the value of the written word and how to analyze it.
Literacy was once a coveted skill to possess. For years, being able to read and write meant having a better life for yourself and your family. Today’s most innovative iPhone is yesterday’s book. Although 21st century inventions have lessened the need for pencils and paper, literacy remains imperative for functioning in society.
Louisiana has a history of illiteracy. For years, our schools have performed poorly in academics. Many people here have survived by getting jobs in agriculture or labor. The shrimping and fishing industry has employed thousands of Louisianans and given them a solid livelihood. However, we don’t live in those times anymore.
As a college student, the amount of reading that I have to complete on a nightly basis is substantial. Many college students face a reading load that is nearly tripled from that they had in high school. Despite the heavy workload, the reading and writing that is required in college is not useless. No matter the major or prospective career, the ability to communicate effectively is essential.
Often, students complain about the seemingly random and useless novels that they have to read. While we complain and fuss about the work, it's only there to make us better. Exercising our brains with literature helps us navigate the world more clearly. Knowledge of our surroundings stops us from being taken advantage of. Ultimately, reading gives us control.
Literacy is a powerful tool. Many tyrannical regimes withheld literary resources to keep their citizens ignorant. Without the materials to learn and gain control of their lives, these people were subject to harsh and brutal policies of power-hungry despots. Being ill-informed became a cyclical process in many families and led to generations of uneducated people.
In the U.S., we have the luxury of living in a democracy. We have access to resources that most of the world does not have. This is especially true at the University. Although Middleton Library is old and decrepit, we should be grateful for the books that we do have. Literacy is the key to unleashing some of your wildest dreams. The University is a place in which the chains of ignorance are supposed to be unlocked. No one should leave the University with the fetters of miseducation still attached.
In a society where greed and corruption loom over our shoulders, literacy may be one of the last resources we have in continuing to combat corporate and governmental injustice. Literacy may also help you engage in healthy, productive debates with the lovely opinion staff.
Erin Stephens is a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Brusly, Louisiana.