What role does Scout's teacher play in the lives of Maycomb County's school children (especially in regards to her being from Winston county)?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Miss Caroline from Winston County in Northern Alabama introduces the theme of Ignorance and Knowledge in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. And, this theme of ignorance and knowledge plays a large role in the novel since lack of knowledge of people often leads to preconceptions about them.  When, for instance, Miss Caroline asks the class who has brought his/her lunch, she makes the error of not understanding the economic and social dynamics ofMaycomb, which is in the southern part of the state, an area that differs greatly from Winston County.  Scout attempts to explain to her teacher, but Miss Caroline perceives Scout's charitable efforts as insolence and punishes her. (This theme of ignorance and knowledge is furthered in the townspeople's quick judgment of Atticus Finch's assuming the role of defender of Tom Robinson and in Mayella' misinterpretation of Atticus's questions to her.)

In addition, Miss Caroline, along with Miss Gates, are examples of what Lee considered teachers who rigidly hold erroneous beliefs about human nature.  Presuming to teach the children, Miss Caroline knows little about getting along with others.Instead of trying to adapt her teaching to the Maycomb students, she attempts to change her students according to her perceptions, blundering as she essays to make Walter Cunningham and Burris Ewell conform to her ideas of how a student should act.  Her failure, then, is a lonely one as she puts her head on her desk.  Having observed her, Scout offers no comfort because Miss Caroline has been unfriendly to her.  

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