What does the following quote from To Kill a Mockingbird mean?"School started. The second grade was as bad as the first they still flashed cards and wouldn't let you read or write." What...

What does the following quote from To Kill a Mockingbird mean?

"School started. The second grade was as bad as the first they still flashed cards and wouldn't let you read or write." What might this same quote say about Scout's character?

Asked on by lhaynie

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sagetrieb's profile pic

sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

One final comment: the use of the generic "they" for the school system, together with "flash cards" and "wouldn't let" you signify the authoritative methodology of the school system, where knowledge was obtained passively rather than uncovered actively and with ambition. Such a system would necessarily teach that each of us has a place in society, and that place should be accepted rather than resisted. In this way, the school reflects the larger social structure of Maycomb in regards to gender and race:  it flashes small sound bites of words rather than complicated ideas and "won't let you" do various things, depending on your position, gender, and color.  As for what this says about Scout's character:  this system is the context in which she will have to forge her character, in part by resisting its message but also by learning its rules.

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teacherscribe | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Remember too how horrible of a time Scout had on her very first day of first grade; she was chastised by her teacher for already knowing how to read and seeming better than the other students. Scout realizes upon the start of second grade that it won't be any more challenging that first grade. So she is stuck being bored and trying to hide how smart she really is. This reveals just how intelligent and eager to learn Scout is. She is not the typical second grader, not that she is really aware of it. She alsmot takes for granted that every other student has a father who lets them read the paper with him and so on. It both reveals how intelligent Scout is but also how innocent and trapped she feels.

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renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

It is a reflection that the second grade does not offer any new learning opportunities. There is very little difference except it is a different grade level.

For Scout, she finds it grim. Jem tells her it doesn't get any better until sixth grade. Scout is not stimulated by the content which is being taught. She is more driven and in need of academic stimulation.

The educational system is more about structure and rules than in actual knowledge. Scout's first grade teacher informed Scout not to read with her father, as it "interfered" with her  instruction.

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