John Corcoran grew up in the United States of America in the 40-50s. One of the 6 brothers and sisters has a secret to John who is unable to find out in his school, college and 17 years of teaching career. How he kept hiding for so many years that in fact, he did not even have to read.
In my childhood, my parents used to say to me that I am a winner and for the first 6 years of my life I have continued to believe in this.
I learned to speak for a while but went to school with great expectations thinking that I would like to read-write like my sisters.
The first year was all right because there was nothing more to do, but in the second year we had to learn to read. But for me it was such that a Chinese language newspaper was open before me and I did not understand any line.
It was not easy to understand this problem for a 6-7 year old child.
I remember praying in the night while sleeping, please God, please God, I wish I should wake up in the morning and read me. Sometimes I got up and opened the book and saw that maybe a miracle happened. But there was no miracle but there was no miracle.
I used to go to school, not to school
I began to sit in the ‘worthless children’s line’. These were the kids who had difficulty reading and writing like I did. I do not know how I reached there, I did not know how to get out and I did not know exactly what to ask.
Our teachers did not call it the line of ineligible children. But the child said it like this and when you are in the line of ineligible children, you start feeling irritable.
In my parent-teacher meeting, my teacher told my parents, “It’s a very fast kid, he’ll learn.”
Every year the teacher says so and admits me in the next class.
But I did not understand.
When I came in the fifth class, I had left the hope of learning to read. I wake up every morning, get ready and go to school like I am going to war. I was annoyed by class.
During the seventh class, I used to sit in the principal’s office all day long. I used to fight, I was a Joker, was rebellious, disturbed the class. They were also taken out of school.
But I did not do that from inside. I did not want to be like this. I wanted to be a good student. It was not enough to just become.
But by the eighth class, I was tired of embarrassing myself and my family. I decided that I will behave properly now.
I wanted to be a player I had the talent of the player. My math was good. Even before starting school I had learned to count money.
I could write my name and could not write a few more words but the whole sentence I was in high school but could read the level of the child of a second-third class. I have never told anyone that I can not read.
Kept on passing by deception
At the time of examination I would look at someone else’s paper or let someone else write their own paper. But when I went to college on the sports scholarship, it was not so easy.
The old question papers were found. One way was also to deal with the trials. I went to a class with a partner who could help me. There were many professors who used the same question paper every year.
Once a professor wrote 4 questions on the board. I was sitting behind the class, near the window.
I had my blue answer book and I wrote four questions. I did not know what those questions mean.
I had already kept one of my friends standing outside the window. He was the school’s fastest student.
I packed my answer sheet from the window so that she could write the answer for me.
Another answer-book was hidden in my shirt, I pulled it out and started pretending to write.
I was so crazy to be nearby.
After that, once I entered the professor’s office in the night and stolen the question papers.
After the theft I was happy for once that I was so clever, worked so hard but after that I came home and started crying.
Why did not I ask for help from anyone? Because I thought someone could not help me. Someone can not teach me to read
My teachers, my parents told me that after college degree, I get a good job. I also believe this. I had to get a degree paper just in my mind.
I got a job as a teacher
Graduation also happened. There was a shortage of teachers in the college, so I got a job offer for the teacher. It was very absurd that the difficulty I came out of, now I was going back to it.
Why did I do this job? I was not caught in school and college and therefore I had a good choice to be hiding in the teacher’s job. Who would have doubted that a teacher could not read.
I studied a lot of things. I used to teach sports. He taught topics in social science. I also taught typing. I used to type 65 words in a minute but I did not know what I was typing. I have never written on the blackboard. We used to watch many movies in class and used to discuss a lot.
Meanwhile, I got married too. I thought of telling the truth to my wife before marriage. I told him I could not read. But she thought that I am saying that I am not interested in books.
Got married and got our daughter too.
One day this secret was open to my wife when I was reading the story reading my 3 year old daughter from the book.
I was listening to stories by making stories myself, because I could not read the story of the book.
When my wife heard it came to know the truth but she did not say anything to me and continued to help me.
I used to feel insignificant to me. I thought I was a liar. I was cheating. I was teaching my children to walk on the path of truth while I was the biggest liar in that class.
After all I learned to read
I taught high school from 1961 to 1978. Eight years after leaving the job, my life changed.
Then I was 47 years old when I heard Barbara Bush, the wife of Vice President of America, speak on adult education on TV. I had never heard someone speak on this before, and I thought that I am the only victim of this situation.
One day two women in a store were talking about the education of their adult brothers who used to read the library. He was learning to read
On Friday evening, I also reached the library and met the Director of Literacy program. I told them I could not read.
He was the second person in my life whom I told this secret.
I found a 65 year old tutor here. He was not a teacher but he liked to read.
Initially they asked me to write what is in my heart. I first wrote a poem. I wrote poetry on what I felt. The special thing about poetry is that you do not have to write the whole sentence.
My tutor taught me to read up to the level of a sixth grade. But I took seven years to feel myself literate. When I learned to read, I cried a lot. There was a lot of frustration in this learning journey, I felt pain but now I had filled up a big pit lying in my soul.
As for the 48 years I was in the dark. But finally I got rid of my ‘ghost’