What point does To Kill a Mockingbird make about parenting and education? How do Jem and Scout learn and change throughout the book?
Harper Lee illuminates the importance of receiving a moral education from good parents as opposed to learning at a rigid school system. Throughout the novel, Lee portrays school to be a boring atmosphere where hypocrisy is evident and talented children work well below their abilities. Scout absolutely hates school; rather than praise her already well-established reading and writing skills, Scout's first-grade teacher discourages her from reading and writing at home. Scout's classmates are rural children who have no interest in education and Scout tries her best to stay home. Despite Lee's negative depiction of the education system, she enthusiastically supports good parenting by including scenes where Atticus teaches his children important lessons on courage, tolerance, race, and morality. Both Scout and Jem listen to their father and watch as Atticus leads by example. Scout and Jem mature and develop new perspectives and empathy for others by listening to Atticus. Jem changes from being a naive child who fears Boo Radley and doesn't realize the predominant racism present in his community to a young man who seeks to change and better the world. Scout also changes from a naive child who solves problems with her fists to a kind, compassionate individual. Scout and Jem grow into understanding, morally upright individuals like their father and sympathize with society's outcasts. Towards the end of the novel, Jem understands the importance of protecting innocent beings and develops into a thoughtful, courageous young man. Scout also grows up and develops a sense of understanding. She shares Atticus' tolerant attitude toward others and realizes Boo is simply a kind, shy individual and not the "malevolent phantom."