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

By Samantha NeCamp

The unencumber of U.S. census info in 1910 sparked rhetoric stating the country had a literacy quandary and proclaiming illiterate electorate a hazard to democratic existence. whereas newspaper editors, industrialists, and officers within the federal govt usually put the blame on newly arrived immigrants, a smaller yet no much less vocal team of rural educators and clubwomen highlighted the numerous variety of native-born illiterate adults within the Appalachian quarter. writer Samantha NeCamp seems on the academic reaction to those detailed literacy narratives—the founding of the Moonlight faculties in jap Kentucky, inquisitive about native-born nonliterate adults, and the institution of the Americanization flow, devoted to the schooling of contemporary immigrants.

Drawing on own correspondence, convention complaints, textbooks, and speeches, NeCamp demonstrates how the Moonlight colleges and the Americanization circulation competed for public awareness, the curiosity of educators, and personal and governmental investment, fueling a colourful public debate in regards to the definition of literacy. The very various 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 colleges and the Americanization flow in terms of each other, Adult Literacy and American Identity expands the heritage and concept of literacy and literacy schooling within the usa. This booklet can be of curiosity to students in literacy, Appalachian stories, and rhetoric and composition.

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In 1918, Stewart was asked to lead the NEA’s Illiteracy Committee. This post provided Stewart with an annual platform from which to address the nation’s teachers and to rally them to Literacy, Crisis, and Educational Responses 27 the cause of educating illiterates.  . James B. Cox for president of the United States” in 1920, and she gave an extended speech to the Democratic National Convention (Baldwin 127). Later, at the 1923 World Conference on Education, Stewart led discussion concerning illiteracy.

Stewart enlisted volunteers to “visit each home in the district and issue a personal invitation to every adult in Rowan County” (Baldwin 42). Based on the feedback volunteers received, Stewart estimated that 150 students would attend the first session.  . Illiterates 16). The courses “met Monday through Thursday evenings from seven to nine o’clock for six weeks. Sessions began promptly at seven.  . Students left promptly at nine” (Baldwin 44). Coursework focused on reading and writing with additional elective drills in other subjects (including math, history, and speech).

House, Committee on Education 57). Using statistics from the 1910 census, the bulletin also demonstrates “that illiteracy was not solely a southern problem” (Baldwin 51). In doing so, the bulletin created a nationwide audience for the Moonlight Schools. In Kentucky, Stewart petitioned the state government to create an agency that could oversee and support the Moonlight Schools.  . Illiterates 52). The census bureau reports convinced legislators—or rather, Literacy, Crisis, and Educational Responses 23 their constituents—that illiteracy was indeed a statewide problem, and the state government agreed to create the Kentucky Illiteracy Commission (KIC) in February 1914.

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