As supporters of adult literacy, many of us are aware how frequently adult learners are overlooked. Erin Howarth, a volunteer tutor at Washtenaw Literacy, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, shined a light on this struggle in her Ted Talk entitled “Our Invisible Neighbors.” Erin has been a tutor mentor with Washtenaw Literacy since 2000 and has over 20 years of experience working with adult learners. She gave a passionate account of the secret struggles adult learners face not knowing how to read. She also touched on the embarrassment and frustration adult learners feel, which can lead them to feel isolated and keep their struggles secret.
I thoroughly enjoyed each moment of Erin’s presentation. Erin opened her talk by requesting that we all go a day without reading anything to experience a hint of what it’s like to be a low literate adult. She also shared proud and heartwarming tales of adult learners within her organization who have dedicated themselves to overcoming the barrier of low literacy. She emphasized the power of tutoring and mentoring adult learners to actualize their goals, reinforcing the notion that “just a little bit of literacy makes all the difference.”
Erin’s stories highlighted a variety of learners’ goals that Washtenaw Literacy attends to, including literacy support, job readiness, and GED and test preparation. ProLiteracy appreciates Erin and Washtenaw Literacy’s dedication to adult literacy. Keep up the great work!
Washtenaw Literacy is a longtime ProLiteracy member. For more information about Washtenaw Literacy, visit their website.