How did Scout get in trouble with her teacher?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Scout enters first grade already knowing how to read.  Atticus has been reading to her for years.  The new teacher, Miss Caroline, who is an outsider in the community, is supposed to teach all the kids a new system of reading.  Here begins the duel between the two.

In this chapter, Harper Lee satirizes the mindless institution of public education which punishes students for already knowing how to read.  Miss Caroline says, "Your father does not know how to teach" and, later, that she will try to "undo the damage" her father has done.  The author also lampoons the curriculum--the flavor-of-the-week "new way" of reading.

Scout continues to "misbehave" when she speaks out for Walter Cunningham.  She tells the teacher that Cunninghams don't take charity, and Miss Caroline, mistakenly, punishes her for nosiness.  Scout is only trying to help the outsider, and Miss Caroline could have used Scout as a resource to better learn the needs of the students.

How can one undo how to read?  How can a system of reading taught by a stranger be better than learning from home with your parent?  How can an eager first grader be punished for trying to help a new teacher?  Scout is a unjustly punished in these chapters, mainly because Miss Caroline is an inexperienced, unimaginative teacher.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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