The Teach Two method of literacy training is a viable solution to the massive problem of low literacy.  Our goal is to turn the Community of Need into the Community of Service and to turn willing new readers, young and old, into community-based tutors.  Each of You Teach Two!

This unique approach is based on the following premises synergistically combined:

  • In a print-saturated society like the United States, there are no non-readers. There are, however, millions of hesitant readers who cannot read well enough to function fully in our society and realize their full potential. Millions of people who can recognize stop, go, gas, and bus were never shown how easy it is to begin to build a reading foundation on those simple words.

  • All human beings are gifted; but we all use a small percentage of our brain power. Vast numbers of adults, who claim they cannot read, live caring and productive lives and find amazingly creative ways to compensate for their inability to decode print.

  • Adults and children who are told that they are learning disabled or unable to focus may come to believe that they are inferior—and even more if their teachers and family buy into the negative labels and do not understand and accept learning differences.

  • It is possible to bring students with learning differences up to grade level in reading and even to teach individuals with IQs in the 30s to read with understanding and enthusiasm. The well-documented work of Dr. Renée Fuller has proven that repeatedly over the past 35+ years. With Fuller’s system of capital letters there are no reversals.

  • The most important factor in teaching someone to read is heartfelt listening. Anxiety causes the brain to downshift. Authentic listening dispels anxiety and creates safe space which accelerates learning. When reluctant readers feel safe, they do not have to apologize or pretend. An exciting new world of learning opens up where past performance makes little difference.

  • The most powerful teaching resource is the life experience of new readers. Once they feel safe and begin to reveal what interests them most, words about things they love will become sight words on which to build a reading vocabulary. As the motivation to learn becomes self-directed and self-reinforcing, they may discover books that can feed their interests and fire their imagination.

  • We all learn best when we teach someone else; that is also true in learning to read. Even young readers can teach other children from scratch, providing they believe that they can and have access to simple methods and a mentor, their former tutor, to guide them through the process—before, during, and after each tutoring session—until they are ready to try it on their own.

  • A vast corps of potential literacy tutors of all ages—today’s hesitant readers—exists in the very schools and neighborhoods where tutors are most needed. Many adults are hesitant to work with volunteers from outside their community. That condition can be reversed when interested individuals are trained to tutor their own children, siblings, and neighbors. One committed and credible community-based tutor, eager to train others to pass it on, could start a landslide.

  • Encouraging new readers to teach two others in their lifetime creates a geometric progression of learning. Frank Laubach’s call to literacy in the mid-20th century with his book, Each One Teach One, catalyzed the dissemination of excellent methods and the creation of a dedicated worldwide corps of volunteers, as did the groundbreaking work of Ruth Colvin, founder of Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA). The call to universal literacy for the 21st century builds on that past and amplifies it, handing the skills of teaching—and eventually, mentoring—over to willing new readers, young or old. Now, Each of You Teach Two!

  • Authentic partnerships promote healing, increase self-reliance and creativity all around, and strengthen community leadership. To begin to wipe out low literacy we must forego any beggar-at-the-gate perspective, any trace of a proprietary, client-oriented, failure mentality. We can and must develop mutually enriching partnerships between the haves and the have-nots and among service providers as well. Young and old, degreed and certified or not, as we help each other learn we all grow in the sharing.

  • If we but find the will, the simple learning technology exists to begin to wipe out functional illiteracy in our lifetime. As literacy providers build more and more collaborative relationships with each other and with community-based tutors, we can tap the synergy of partnership. Though unheralded, Septima Clark and Myles Horton proved that conclusively in the Deep South of the 1950s with hundreds of Citizenship Schools that quietly paved the way and prepared a people for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.





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©2004 Lucille Tessier Chagnon
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