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Adult Literacy and American Identity: The Moonlight Schools by Samantha NeCamp

By Samantha NeCamp

The free up of U.S. census facts in 1910 sparked rhetoric mentioning the kingdom had a literacy quandary and proclaiming illiterate voters a risk to democratic existence. whereas newspaper editors, industrialists, and officers within the federal executive usually put the blame on newly arrived immigrants, a smaller yet no much less vocal staff of rural educators and clubwomen highlighted the numerous variety of native-born illiterate adults within the Appalachian area. writer Samantha NeCamp appears to be like on the academic reaction to those targeted literacy narratives—the founding of the Moonlight faculties in jap Kentucky, occupied with native-born nonliterate adults, and the institution of the Americanization circulate, devoted to the schooling of modern immigrants.

Drawing on own correspondence, convention complaints, textbooks, and speeches, NeCamp demonstrates how the Moonlight faculties and the Americanization stream competed for public realization, the curiosity of educators, and personal and governmental investment, fueling a colourful public debate concerning the definition of literacy. The very diversified pedagogical practices of the 2 movements—and how those practices have been represented to the public—helped form literacy schooling within the usa. interpreting the Moonlight faculties and the Americanization circulate on the subject of each other, Adult Literacy and American Identity expands the heritage and thought of literacy and literacy schooling within the usa. This e-book can be of curiosity to students in literacy, Appalachian stories, and rhetoric and composition.

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In one note, a teacher surveying residents points to a courtship as a possible teaching relationship: “Quiet, not talkative, very timid, would be hard to 42 Developing Pedagogies for Illiterate Adults interest. Stays at Mrs. Mauks’. Pays his respects to Mrs. Mauks’ daughter. She might teach him” (“Educational Div. No. 1”). Another note suggests that work may be the best motivator: “Sensitive about his illiteracy. Democrat. Born in Ramey Creek, tenants. Just returned from Indiana. Approach him through his employer” (“Educational Div.

In 1920, Kentucky discontinued funding for the KIC, under pressure from school officials who perceived (incorrectly) that the KIC’s funding would be reappropriated to day-school education. 1 Though the end of the KIC was a setback for the schools, ultimately, the demise of the KIC likely encouraged the schools’ national spread. Although Stewart had refused several offers to join national organizations because she felt her duty lay with Kentucky, her disgust with the state government freed her to take her work to a national audience.

Claxton, US Commissioner of Education, published a special bulletin, “Illiteracy in the United States and an Experiment for Its Elimination,” that touted the Moonlight Schools as one possible solution to the national problem of adult illiteracy. The Moonlight Schools, he suggests, demonstrate “that it is not so difficult for illiterate grown-ups to learn to read and write as is generally supposed” and that “adults of limited education have taken advantage of the opportunity to return to school and to increase their knowledge” (qtd.

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