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Johnny can’t read

(The following was Dene Ward’s e-mail message on January 28th.)

It’s been over fifty years since Rudolf Flesch wrote Why Johnny Can’t Read. Someone had finally been brave enough to say out loud, modern education methods are not working.

There was a sudden push in the universities for all teachers in every subject to be able to teach reading as well. Even in music education, I was required to come up with methods to teach word reading while at the same time teaching music reading-a bit like trying to teach English and Math simultaneously. I haven’t noticed that is has helped. We have a newspaper columnist who keeps track of the English, spelling, and word choice errors in his own paper. His list never seems to shorten.

The other day, I heard a sportscaster, who was speculating about a certain team’s future in the season ahead, say, “Of course, I realize we are living in the speculum here.” The last time a doctor used a speculum on me, I would not have wanted to be living in it! That same day another sportscaster said he was “efforting” to give us an unbiased view of things. Then there are the want-ads: we recently noticed a “12 gage shotgun” for sale, along with a “chester drawers.”

So in many cases, Johnny still can’t read, but I think in the case of many Christians it is more a matter of “Johnny won’t read.”

In nearly every overseas mission I have heard of, the biggest need is for Bibles in that particular language. Those people, to whom Bibles are rare and precious, crave them the most and read them the most.  Most of us have several Bibles in our homes, gathering dust, spending more time in the car seat traveling back and forth to the meetinghouse than being read.

How do I know? The same way I know that sportscaster made a low score on the vocabulary portion of his SAT. When I hear that Jacob had to wait fourteen years before he could marry Rachel, that David saw Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, and that the wise men showed up at the stable the night Jesus was born, I know someone is not reading. When I hear people say, “Money is the root of all evil,” and “Pride goes before a fall,” thinking they are quoting scripture, I know they are not reading those scriptures they claim to live by.

And here is an excellent point-many do know their scriptures backwards and forwards, inside and out, yet they don’t allow them to penetrate their hearts. But how can they ever reach our hearts, if we never read them in the first place?

I look at a cookbook four or five times a week to feed my family well. What and how often am I reading so I can feed their souls even better?

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place that was before the water gate; and they spoke unto Ezra the scribe, to bring the book of the law of Moses, which Jehovah had commanded to Israel…And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, (for he was above all the people); and when he opened it, all the people stood up…and they read in the book, the Law of God, distinctly, and they gave the sense so that they understood the reading. Neh 8:1,5,8.

Till I come, give heed to reading, 1 Tim 4:13.

Dene Ward