To kill a mockingbirdWhat different types of education are shown throughout the novel?

6 Answers

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Calpurnia teaches Scout about what it means to be a woman when Scout begins to spend time with her in the kitchen instead of with her brother and Dill. 

This gender instruction is something that surprises Scout, as she has not spent much time with women, including Calpurnia, until this summer.

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

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Miss Caroline had apparently been influenced during her college days by the teachings of John Dewey (1859-1952), a progressive educational reformer especially prominent during the early 20th century. A philosopher and psychologist, he was a founder of the movements toward functional psychology and pragmatism. Harper Lee humorously criticizes Dewey's educational style by deliberately having Jem mistake his name (and teachings) for Melvil Dewey (1851-1931), who founded the Dewey Decimel System for library classification. Scout (and Lee) repeatedly question the wisdom of Miss Caroline's "Dewey Decimel System" of teaching.


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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Good points about education, but let's not forget about a less pleasant aspect of education--the teacher who cannot see past his or her personal egocentricity. Remember how Scout enjoyed reading with Atticus? Remember how the teacher disapproved of that? This is definitely an impacting part of Scout's education.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As mentioned in the above posts, there is the traditional education (which is under fire as Scout disagrees with her teacher's methods and becomes rebellious in school as a result, thus ending in a moral education from Atticus about how to deal with difficult people) and many nonformal life experience events.  The children's aunt and other racist folks teach them one way of looking at the world,  Boo Radley teaches them another way of looking at the world, the domestic issue with Mayella Ewell and her father, etc., is yet another life experience worth learning from, and the list goes on and on.


pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would add that there are different types of informal education going on in the book.  We see Scout and Jem learning about how to treat other people (the Cunninghams, Mrs. Dubose), but we also see them learning truths about society.  They learn about the black community when they go to church with Calpurnia.  They learn about the white society and its prejudices through the trial.  They are learning how to be good individuals, but they are also learning about how their society works.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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I can think of two different types of education that are shown in this novel. Scout receives a traditional education in the school house and from Atticus as he teaches her to read. She also receives a different kind of education from life experiences. She learns not to judge people from her encounters with Boo Radley. She learns several lessons about justice and respect during the trial. She learns that her views are very different from those in the town when she sees the men confront Atticus at the jail. I would say that life itself teaches Scout much more than her formal education in the school house.