The article Why Johnny Can’t Write by Merrill Sheils published in Newsweek on December 8, 1975 demonstrates the widespread inability of high school and college graduates to write properly and in accordance with the Standard English. It is a research and a discussion on how adolescents and teenagers deal with the American reality without improving their reading and writing skills. On the other hand, the problem of an increased rate of violence among young people goes hand in hand with the issue of total illiteracy. Both ideas are still evident in the society as there are wrong methods of teaching, as might be seen, for the most part of the educational establishments. Thus, the evidence of violence among young people is mainly related to their illiteracy and a far-flung culture of the language disrespect.
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First off, the article shows the negative statistics on students’ inability to write. It touches mainly upon the graduates who do not have even the minimum of knowledge they should acquire upon graduation. Thus, one of the main problems among students is that they “cannot organize their thoughts clearly” (Sheils 60). Teenagers tend to self-actualize through building their own language and putting more emphasis on its significance within the environment they are placed into. The problem has a twofold nature justified in the system of education.
Sheils highlights a predominant gap in the qualification of American English teachers stating that “researchers estimate that more than 50 percent of the nation’s secondary-school English teachers did not specialize in English at all during their college years” (61). In fact, it is the weakest point of the nation which culture and lifestyle are widely imposed all around the globe. With an internal decay in the education system there is a hazard for the next generations. Definitely, if children are illiterate, it means that their parents also got through such a deteriorating problem in their teen age. If parents cannot influence their offspring, a teacher should become a coach for a child able to practice the Standard English for getting vital skills of reading and writing as well as the overall urge for learning (Sheils 61).
On the other side, the crime activity among young people is constantly growing. To date, it is a national disaster which puts the whole nation into the pit of fear and uncertainty about the future. Community violence is especially exposed by young people (Martin 2). Teenagers seek their own place under the sun while the violence itself covers all districts of different cities. Thus, there are only two ways: either to join violence or to become a victim of the violent behavior. Violence among adolescents between ages of 15 and 25 years has its roots in the sociocultural and psychological fields. All in all, this flow of assaults, crimes, and other types of violence seems never ending.
There are different risk factors to commit violent actions on the part of youth. This is why all of them are taken into consideration so that to work out the core of the problem not only in the United States, but also worldwide. Family and peers are, therefore, leading aspects of the juvenile delinquency. Besides, the report on youth violence by the World Health Organization distinguishes the following factors leading toward violence among young people, namely:
- Poor behavioral control;
- Attention problems;
- History of early aggressive behavior;
- Low educational achievement (World Health Organization 1).
Among the aforementioned points, educational attainment, behavioral control, and attention problems are to be specifically highlighted in order to tie them up to the problem of the educational decline in the US. Another widespread problem which instigates adolescents to a crime is an open sale and storage of guns. America is the most armed country of the world which shoves it to the edge of violent relationships within the society. Conversely, there should be more effective ways toward educational reorganization. The problem is huge and the government along with the educators is to work it out at the very beginning of a child’s development.
Definitely, the problem of youth violence is interrelated with the problem of youth illiteracy. To find out the best solutions to solve it, one is to keep it in mind that it might take much time and efforts on the part of the official powers and qualified educators. In a multinational country like America, there should be an even distribution of knowledge in primary, secondary and high schools as well as in colleges. It will certainly lower the possibility of poor educational background among teenagers of different ethnicity and race.
By and large, Sheils’s article introduces another vision of the problem which can be sorted out through a right distribution of language in order to maintain better communication between peers. On the other hand, it is a way to make children long for knowledge as a good chance of getting better jobs and opportunities in life. Needless to say, most of the young criminals confess in that what they do is wrong and they never want their children to follow the same way. Hence, the ideology of a good education should be clearly stated before the students. It also touches upon the time-to-time professional retraining of teachers of English, in particular, and the rest of teachers on the whole.
Violence among youngsters is preventable if taking into account all useful methods to reduce it across the country. In this vein, along with the educational improvement and special attention to a student as one who will lead the country to the promising future, the officials are to lay emphasis on the following preventive actions: “make it harder for people to get guns; improve school safety; and deal with the conditions of hopelessness that lead people to take their own lives or those of other people” (Ritzel 25). To say more, parents and teachers have to look after adolescents especially in leisure time which is identified as the most “convenient” for committing violence (Recassens 89).
Among the strategies proposed by the World Health Organization there are different approaches toward providing more discipline and monitoring the activity of adolescents in an effective way. The rule of punishment is not that effective as might be seen. Thus, the best examples of preventive measures are: “pre-school enrichment programs, counseling, home visitation, improving school settings, including teacher practices, school policies and security, after-school programs, and effort to reduce media violence” (World Health Organization 2). These strategies reflect on the idea to amplify communication and supervision of individual, relationship, community, and societal aspects (World Health Organization 2). Insofar, it mirrors on the idea of passive entertainment of adolescents through television where violence is taken as a normal activity and violators on the screen become a role model for teenagers.
Given that, the issue of an increased violence among adolescents is justified and further proved by the idea of low quality of education among youngsters. On the other hand, the cause is that teachers are unable to teach on the highest level of devotion. Criminal activity among teenagers grounds on their inactivity supported by teachers’ neglectful attitude toward them. This is why America wallowed in crimes committed by adolescents and in ignorance of learning among them committed by teachers of English and other disciplines.
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