Consider our parents, grand parents, and great grandparents.
In most cases they knew how to read, and before 1930 they went to one-room school houses where older children taught younger children.
The McGuffy reader was the dominant textbook. The emphasis was on learning to write, read, and to “do numbers.”
Almost every American town had a school house, a town hall where lecturers gave lengthy discourses on social issues, and a church.Television with video clips and sound bites were not yet invented,
The three largest groups where illiteracy was tolerated were: plantation slaves, Appalachian Highlanders, and immigrants who failed to pass citizenship reading tests. See the books by Hart or Postman referenced elsewhere.
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