A Miracle: The True Story About John Corcoran
by Ying Q.
John Corcoran was a teacher and coach. He also became a successful businessman and millionaire. However, John kept a secret from the people around him for most of his life. He was illiterate. John couldn’t read.
John Corcoran grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He went through the junior college system, but John couldn’t read. He didn’t really learn how to sound out words and figure them out from the rest of the story when he was in elementary school. Inside the classroom, John couldn’t keep up. He never told anyone he couldn’t read because he didn’t want to be ridiculed.
For most of his life John had to pretend he could read. John tried faking, lying and cheating to hide his reading problem. In junior college, his girlfriend helped him out. Incredibly, after graduation, John had his father fill out an application for him, and John got a teaching job. John asked his students to read aloud, but he was the only one in the room who couldn’t read.
Years later, John Corcoran went into real estate in California and became an expert. When he was 48 years old, he restarted to learn how to read. He talked to local community group and spoke to millions on TV about his experience. He wrote a book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read to encourage the people like him, because the more John traveled, the more he realized how many Americans were illiterate.
Research shows that The United States is no longer a world leader in terms of education. School students score poorly compared to other countries. That an illiterate person, like John Corcoran, could pass through all the grades 1 through 12 without being able to read shows the lack of attention by teachers and school administration. Unlike China, the United States provides the opportunity for all children to receive education through high school and protects their rights to education. However, unlike China, the U.S. school system does not insist on quality of education. It does not focus on setting high enough standards to produce well educated students.
The most important thing I learned from John Corcoran’s story is that even though you didn’t learn something when you were young, it is never too late to start now.