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

By Samantha NeCamp

The unlock of U.S. census facts in 1910 sparked rhetoric stating the state had a literacy difficulty and proclaiming illiterate voters a chance to democratic existence. whereas newspaper editors, industrialists, and officers within the federal executive usually put the blame on newly arrived immigrants, a smaller yet no much less vocal crew of rural educators and clubwomen highlighted the numerous variety of native-born illiterate adults within the Appalachian sector. writer Samantha NeCamp appears to be like on the academic reaction to those specific literacy narratives—the founding of the Moonlight faculties in jap Kentucky, all for native-born nonliterate adults, and the institution of the Americanization circulate, devoted to the schooling of contemporary immigrants.

Drawing on own correspondence, convention lawsuits, textbooks, and speeches, NeCamp demonstrates how the Moonlight faculties and the Americanization move competed for public cognizance, the curiosity of educators, and personal and governmental investment, fueling a colourful public debate in regards to the definition of literacy. The very various 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 colleges and the Americanization move relating to each other, Adult Literacy and American Identity expands the heritage and thought of literacy and literacy schooling within the usa. This booklet might be of curiosity to students in literacy, Appalachian stories, and rhetoric and composition.

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Illiterates 13). Florence S. Estes, however, demonstrates that while these encounters with specific illiterate people likely did spur Stewart to action, Stewart was aware of regional and national educational movements, including the Conference for Education in the South and the country life movement, that sought to improve the lives of southern agricultural workers through education (18; 46–67). While the Moonlight Schools were designed to serve Stewart’s local community, the curriculum Stewart created owed much to the ethos of the country life movement, particularly its emphasis on “scientific agriculture” and the “modernization of infrastructures of commerce, such as banks, roads, and credit systems” (Estes 47).

Though the pedagogical approaches used in both locations have been documented,1 this scholarship has analyzed each group in isolation, and each has been imagined as responding to a unique set of social conditions. In actual practice, of course, the groups influenced one another, both directly and indirectly. Similarly, both groups responded and reacted to a larger public discussion surrounding student-centered pedagogies inspired by the pedagogical suggestions of John Dewey. The current chapter places the Moonlight Schools and Americanization classes in relation to one another by examining how each responded to two pedagogical questions: how best to teach students to read and how best to engage students’ interest in class material.

Founder Cora Wilson Stewart recognizes that adults’ purposes in pursuing education, the kinds of education they require, and the methods through which adults could best learn are significantly different from those of early childhood learners. Importing textbooks and methodology from children’s education into adult education initiatives, Stewart suggests, might result in some temporary learning progress among adult students but would ultimately lead to disenchantment with the idea of education.  .

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