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Atticus recognizes the intelligence of his daughter, and he rarely talks down to her and always answers her questions in a forthright manner. Miss Caroline, on the other hand, is fresh out of college; a single woman, she has no children of her own, no parenting skills, and no idea how to distinguish between the illiterate kids in her class and the ones like Scout. Instead of appreciating Scout's advanced academic skills, she ridicules her for being able to read above grade level and write cursive. Condescension seems to be her trademark when it comes to dealing with her students.
Atticus and Miss Caroline have a very different approach to children. Atticus treats them with respect, and Miss Caroline does not.
Atticus treats his children with “courteous detachment” and they find him “satisfactory” for it (ch 1). He believes that children should be treated in much the way you’d treat an adult. Although he threats to hit them all the time, he never has. He tells Uncle Jack that children “can spot an evasion quicker than adults” (ch 9), and he believes that you should always listen to them.
Miss Caroline is young and inexperienced. She seems to think that children should learn everything at school. Rather than being impressed that Scout knows how to read and write, she gets annoyed.
[She] discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste. Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere with my reading. (ch 2)
Miss Caroline should have listened to Scout, especially at the point when she was trying to explain why Walter Cunningham wouldn’t borrow money for lunch. If she had, instead of punishing her, she would have realized that Scout was just trying to help.
Miss Caroline does not seem to learn much, because Scout can still hear children laughing when she is in second grade.
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