7th Grade Teacher Worries the Future Is in ‘Questionable Hands,’ Students Can’t Read or Write

By: Lauren | Last updated: Oct 21, 2023

There’s no doubt being a teacher is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs someone can have. However, many teachers are stating that their jobs are becoming harder than ever as their students cannot read or write at the grade-level they are supposed to.

Teachers are using social media to share their frustrations with posts like, “Does anyone else have students who just can’t read?”

Teachers Speaking Out About Student Literacy

One video on TikTok posted by @themmefatale_ has over 11.4 million views. In the video, Mycah, a 7th grade teacher, explains just how bad things are in his classroom.

Advertisement

Source @themmefatale_/X

Mycah stated, “When I tell you that these babies cannot read, cannot write, and they cannot comprehend, I’m not being funny. I’m being dead serious. I have kids constantly asking me, ‘How do I spell ‘window’? How do I spell ‘important’?”

Mycah’s Not Alone in His Struggles

While Mycah’s video has millions of views, his sentiments are not unique. Several teachers weighed in on the topic on a recent Reddit thread.

Advertisement

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

One comment said, “I teach third [grade] and I have students who don’t know all their letter sounds.” Another read, “I subbed today for a 7th and 8th grade teacher. I’m not exaggerating when I say at least 50% of the students were at a 2nd grade reading level.”

The Problem is Not Just Reading

Teachers like Mycah also explain that it’s not just a lack of literacy, but a complete deficiency in comprehension.

Advertisement

Source: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

These teachers expressed that much of their time in class is spent attempting to explain the questions they’re asking. So while most teachers are doing their best to teach the curriculum, the students continue to be several years behind where they’re supposed to.

Doing the Work That They’ve Always Done

Seventh grade teacher Mycah wants the public to understand that his students are still writing book reports and essays, just as previous generations have done.

Advertisement

Source @themmefatale_/X

However, the assignments need to be heavily modified because as Mycah explained, “they just can’t do it.” He continued, “I promise you, these kids are reading in class… but we have to read much smaller passages.”

Why Are Students Struggling in School?

To solve the child and teen literacy issue, it’s crucial to find out why this is happening. Although some people want to blame smartphones and social media, most experts agree that this is the direct result of kids’ seemingly diminishing abilities in the classroom.

Source: Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images

A recent article in The New York Times claims that it may be the teaching methods used that are creating this phenomenon, but the truth is that no one knows for sure.

Advertisement

Smartphone Use Is Leading to Less Comprehensive Reading

It’s important to note that while many don’t believe that social media specifically has increased the levels of illiteracy in students, it certainly is playing a role in their learning.

Advertisement

Source: Leon Neal/Getty Images

While children used to read books in their free time, they now spend it scrolling or playing games on their phones. Librarians from around the US and the world have reported a serious decline in students checking out books for enjoyment.

Advertisement

What the Public Has to Say

Teachers, students, parents, and the general public have been weighing in on this issue on various social media platforms.

Source @themmefatale_/X

On Mycah’s video, one student commented, “I know from the pandemic that my attention span isn’t what it used to be. I wonder if that can be an issue too, an inability to focus.”

Advertisement

Did the Pandemic Affect the Learning Abilities of Students?

According to various studies, the pandemic – during which students were required to learn from home instead of in a classroom – absolutely negatively impacted their capabilities.

Advertisement

Source: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

This effect is especially prevalent in students from low income backgrounds. In fact, a study by Frontiers in Education reported that “learning loss was up to 60% greater” among disadvantaged students.

Advertisement

Lack of Support for Educators Could Also Play a Role

While Mycah and other teachers did not comment directly on how the educational system is not supporting its teachers, it is undoubtedly affecting their students.

Source: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

For several years, American teachers, as well as those from around the world, have been begging for better compensation for their efforts. And while teachers are still trying their absolute best, without proper funding or sufficient staff, they simply cannot provide the one-on-one or extensive care for their students that they so obviously need.

Advertisement

Adult and Children Illiteracy Rates Are Problematic

Technically, the US literacy rate for adults sits somewhere between 79% and 92%. However, 54% of adults “lack proficiency in literacy, essentially reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.”

Advertisement

Source: iStock

And in children, the statistics are even more staggering; only 35% of fourth grade students are reading at or above their grade level.

Advertisement

Illiteracy Rates Could Continue to Climb

While teaching students who cannot read, write, or comprehend at their grade level is certainly frustrating and concerning, it also means that these students will soon be adults with minimum literacy.

Source: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

That means that the adult illiteracy rates throughout the country and the world will be falling significantly as these children enter adulthood. Which, sadly, could cause significant problems for employers, and increase unemployment rates and poverty over time.

Advertisement