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

By Samantha NeCamp

The unlock of U.S. census information in 1910 sparked rhetoric stating the country had a literacy main issue and proclaiming illiterate voters a chance to democratic existence. whereas newspaper editors, industrialists, and officers within the federal executive often positioned the blame on newly arrived immigrants, a smaller yet no much less vocal workforce of rural educators and clubwomen highlighted the numerous variety of native-born illiterate adults within the Appalachian area. writer Samantha NeCamp seems to be on the academic reaction to those special literacy narratives—the founding of the Moonlight colleges in japanese Kentucky, considering native-born nonliterate adults, and the institution of the Americanization circulate, devoted to the schooling of modern immigrants.

Drawing on own correspondence, convention court cases, textbooks, and speeches, NeCamp demonstrates how the Moonlight colleges and the Americanization circulation competed for public consciousness, the curiosity of educators, and personal and governmental investment, fueling a colourful public debate in regards to 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 in terms of each other, Adult Literacy and American Identity expands the background and idea of literacy and literacy schooling within the usa. This e-book may be of curiosity to students in literacy, Appalachian experiences, and rhetoric and composition.

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Though the NACI did manage to publish an instruction manual for teachers of adults—a manual that entirely reflected a professionalized view Literacy, Crisis, and Educational Responses 29 of adult education rather than Stewart’s volunteer-oriented approach—the government’s refusal to provide funding guaranteed that whatever the vision of the NACI, little could be accomplished toward its goals. Locating funding became even more difficult as the Depression set in. The organization was all but defunct by 1932 and was officially closed in January 1933.

Country Life Readers to use in camp schools across the country” (Baldwin 104). Though the YMCA did not organize Moonlight Schools per se, the widespread use of Stewart’s books among soldiers ensured that her name became indelibly associated with literacy education. More important, the test’s “discovery” of high levels of illiteracy among native-born people reconfigured public perceptions of illiteracy. Before the war, illiteracy had often been imagined as a disease quarantined among the foreign born (in the urban North) and African Americans and Appalachians (in the rural South).

Previously, the sheer volume of immigrants in a given year set the stage for the rhetoric of threat favored by Americanizers: by numbers alone, the immigrants represented a potential threat to current political arrangements as well as “native” jobs and access to social services. When the number of immigrants dropped significantly, Americanizers found it difficult to maintain this sense of impending threat. The less visible immigrants became, the less willing natives were to donate their time and energies to educating them.

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