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Ballparking the value of a skill

0 bytes added, 01:41, 29 May 2016
/* Reading and writing: a worked example */
==Reading and writing: a worked example==
We keep hearing of how it's important to be able to read. But ''why'' is it important? One way of trying to judge the importance of our reading ability is to measure the extent to which individuals individual steps in our regular, daily lives depend on our reading skills. A slight variant is to imagine how an illiterate person might navigate life in our place.
Illiteracy can be thought of as selective blindness -- blindness to street names, to road safety signs, to store signs, to brand names on items at the supermarket, to restaurant and cafe menus.
* Illiteracy significantly affects one's ability to travel to new places. Illiterate people can do fine navigating known geographic regions, drawing on their familiarity with the terrain. But it can be much more cognitively stressful for them to venture out into new areas on their own. They cannot understand maps too well, and cannot read street names and road signs. This means they need to memorize long lists of oral directions (or use diagrams, but even here, they need to have the skills of translating a geographical map to a two-dimensional diagram). Even though people can ask around for directions, it can be embarrassing to do so repeatedly.
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