Literacy: A Sign of Hope in War
Tom Sticht, a well-known consultant in adult education has offered, for Memorial Day, an interesting piece about our history. It deals with the Civil War when the Union Army initiated the practice of enlisting freed African-Americans.
The problems in using these men as soldiers soon became apparent. One major set of difficulties stemmed from the fact that the former slaves were usually illiterate. In response to the situation, many officers initiated programs of education for the former slaves.
As a result, thousands of teachers, many of whom were volunteers, worked often under very arduous conditions, to educate the newly freed slaves. In just the Union Army’s Department of the Gulf (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas) by 1864 there were 95 schools with 9,571 children and 2,000 adults being taught by 162 teachers. By the war’s end it was estimated some 20,000 African-American troops had been taught to read.
Sticht ends his article with the following statement:
On Memorial Day, May 25th, let us remember the thousands of literacy teachers who taught hundreds of thousands of troops, the fallen and those who survived their wars, how to wield the mightiest sword of victory –the alphabet!
If you would like to read more about this fascinating glimpse into American history, go to http://ednews.org/articles/remembering-literacy-teachers-during-times-of-war.html