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Miss Caroline tells Scout to stop doing certain things at home because they interfere...

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eagerbeaver | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 16, 2011 at 11:21 AM via web

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Miss Caroline tells Scout to stop doing certain things at home because they interfere with her education. What does this irony say about the way the rules of society are set up? 

 

 

I was reading this book and needed to answer these literature questions. Thank you so much in advance:)

The actual question is:

1. Miss Caroline tells Scout to stop doing certain things at home, that these things will interfere with her education. This is ironic. What does this irony say about the way the rules of society are set up?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:10 PM (Answer #1)

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Most teachers are taught to positively reinforce their students whenever possible, and no teacher should be disappointed with a student who reads and writes above their own grade level. Not so with Miss Caroline, Scout's new first grade teacher. When she discovers that Scout can already read--and quite well--and write cursive, instead of being supportive of her advanced skills, Miss Caroline admonishes Scout. When

... she discovered that I was literate (she) looked at me with more than faint distaste.

Miss Caroline apparently believes that only an educated teacher should be held accountable for instructing children and developing their scholastic skills, and that parents should stay out of this realm of child-rearing and leave the teaching to teachers. She directs Scout to

"... tell you father not to teach you anymore. It's best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I'll take over from here and try to undo the damage--
     "Your father does not know how to teach."

Miss Caroline's egocentric attitude comes from an inexperienced professional background (she is fresh out of college) and from the modern progressive education she has received. She has apparently been versed in the experimental educational philosophies of John Dewey (1859-1952), who believed that the classroom was the best place for both learning and social reform. It is ironic that Miss Caroline would try to belittle Scout for the acquired knowledge she has received in the belief that Atticus--perhaps the most intelligent man in Maycomb--is unqualified to instruct his own daughter. She shows both a lack of knowledge of the people of Maycomb as well as a distorted view of her own ability and authority. Author Harper Lee ridicules modern education even further when she deliberately allows Jem to incorrectly explain to Scout that Miss Caroline is

"... introducing a new way of teaching... It's the Dewey Decimal System."

(Jem is confusing John Dewey's educational theories with the library organizational system founded by Melvil Dewey.)

Sources:

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eagerbeaver | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:48 PM (Answer #2)

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Thank you so much! This helped a lot.

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