Have you ever tried to fit a square peg in a round hole? It doesn’t quite fit, right? Well, that’s the same thing the RRR approach has been trying to do for decades. The brainchild of Sir William Curtis, RRR (Reading, Riting and Rithmetic) were fundamentals of public school learning in the 19th century. This system was based on producing a monolific blueprint for education, whereby every child received the exact same information and education to be tested using standardized means.

Growing up in the 1960s, I was subject to this type of teaching method and while I made acceptable grades according to my parents’ standards, I did not grasp the subject matter in a manner that would allow me to excel in college, nor did I have confidence in my ability to learn. As highlighted in my book, “The Little Flower Vignettes – Story Behind The Story, one cap doesn’t always fit all. Everyone has unique talents and abilities, and the RRR approach, along with a second grade teacher who voiced that I, the only black student in her class, was too smart to be in the second grade, stifled my creative talents, and shut down my mind for a very long time.

A completely different example involved Sir Thomas Edison. His teacher told him he was too stupid to learn. Born in the 1840’s, Edison too was exposed to the RRR approach which couldn’t identify his unique skills and was therefore classified as stupid. As you may already know, Edison went on to become one of the greatest inventors/geniuses in history credited with the electric light bulb in 1879, the phonograph and the motion picture camera. As a sidebar, I must add that in 1800, Italian inventor Alessandro Volta developed the first practical method of generating electricity, the voltaic pile.

All of our educational experiences are different, and while all children are unique, some are blessed with talents that cannot be unearthed if educators rigidly adhere to the archaic RRR method. Remembering my very difficult educational journey, I believe that instead of focusing entirely on the fundamentals of literacy, other aids can be effective in helping children to develop literacy and critical-thinking skills. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

A society is only as strong as its weakest members and if we want to strengthen the fabric of our communities we have to start from the ground up by ensuring that our youth have a solid reading foundation. How can we do this? By becoming engaged in the literacy delivery process on a formal and informal basis. Do the civic and social organizations of which you are affiliated have or support a youth literacy outreach initiative? Will you make a commitment to play a part in strengthening the moral and economic fabric of your community? We all can make a positive contribution to the future of our society. If you would like to learn more about ways that you can get involve in literacy outreach, join the conversation on the Little Flower Literacy and Economics Radio Show each Thursdays morning at 10:30 AM EST, at www.littleflowerartist.com. The show highlights the connection between illiteracy, economics and communities, and offers solutions to securing funding for community development initiatives to address the youth illiteracy problem.