Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 1, Page 13
Fall 1991
'Reach out and teach someone.'

     That's the challenge issued by the Student Literacy Corps to
University of Delaware undergraduates.
     Designed for all undergraduates, regardless of their major fields
of study, the Student Literacy Corps will certify students as literacy
providers, allowing them to share their education with those who need
help in learning to read and write. Based on the Peace Corps concept,
the Student Literacy Corps was developed under a U.S. Department of
Education grant by Sylvia Farnham-Diggory, H. Rodney Sharp Professor
of Educational Studies and Psychology.
     Students who participate take a six-credit, two-semester course
taught by Marilyn Pare, who also conducts adult literacy classes at
the University.
     The literacy picture in the United States is bleak,
Farnham-Diggory said. According to The Reading Report Card, a survey
from the National Assessment of Educational Progress,  6 percent of
9-year-olds could not do rudimentary reading exercises and 40 percent
of 13-year-olds did not have intermediate reading skills. At the high
school level, 95 percent cannot read well enough to handle
college-level books.
     The picture in Delaware is no less bleak: 61,000 Delawareans read
below the fourth grade level; one-third of the adult population has
not finished high school;  one-sixth has less than an eighth grade
education; and 70 percent of Delaware's prison inmates have not
finished high school.
     During the first semester of training, students learn teaching
methods. The following semester they go out into the schools and
community as interns, under supervision, to put their knowledge to
work. The techniques they learn in class can serve them all their
lives, as volunteers in the community, as parents and as teachers,
Pare said.
     Although more than 200 colleges and universities have been given
grants to develop the Student Literacy Corps, the University's program
can serve as a model for other schools because of three components,
according to Farnham-Diggory.
     One is the Intensive Literacy Instruction course, based on the
program developed by the Reading Study Center in the College of
Education. Designed for students of all ages, the program currently is
being used in many local elementary classrooms, in the Reading Study
Center and in evening classes for college students and has proved to
be very successful in teaching the basics of reading, writing,
spelling and composition, Farnham-Diggory said.
     In addition to classroom training, students will be part of a
support network during their practicum, learning to become instructors
under trained teachers in internships in schools, community centers,
churches and libraries. Outstanding students may be eligible for paid
positions when they have completed their training.
     The third requirement is scholarly.  Each student is required to
select a professor in his or her academic area as a mentor and write a
paper, under supervision, relating the corps training to that
     A future goal of the Student Literacy Corps, according to Pare,
is to structure the program to help those whose primary language is
not English.
     Chris Brannock, a junior majoring in English and secondary
education, gives the program high marks.
     "The course has helped me to recognize difficulties students may
be having and has taught me how to help them. The crux of the training
is that it teaches a reliable system that really works," she said.
                                        --Sue Swyers Moncure