What satirical points are made on the subject of education in To Kill a Mockingbird? 

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm going to guess that your question concerns the satire about education found in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Author Harper Lee takes many jabs at public education in her novel. Atticus, the wisest and most intelligent man in Maycomb, never attended grade school, being educated at home. Scout's first grade teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher, is a overly-dressed beauty--

She looked and smelled like a peppermint drop. She boarded... in Miss Maudie's upstairs front room, and when Miss Maudie introduced us to her, Jem was in a haze for days.

but her college education has not prepared her for the small town life found in Maycomb, nor the poor, unsophisticated children who live there. Miss Caroline is an outsider from dreaded Winston County in North Alabama, and she immediately mistakes Scout's intelligence and advanced reading skills for having been taught improperly by Atticus, who allowed Scout's "wallowing illicitly in the daily papers." Miss Caroline's good intentions all backfire on the first day of school, culminating in her discovery of lice in Burris Ewell's hair and his proclamation that she is a "snot-nosed slut of a schoolteacher." Miss Caroline is left in tears, having to be encouraged by the rest of her first graders to get back to the business of teaching.

Lee's deliberate misidentification of Jem's pronouncement of the Dewey Decimal System as a new and progressive form of teaching is another example of her disdain for modern education. (The Dewey Decimal System, founded by Melvil Dewey, is a library identification method; Miss Caroline's new strategies are actually part of John Dewey's educational reforms that were popular during the 1930s.)Scout's third grade teacher, Miss Gates, proves to be a hypocritical racist, denouncing Adolf Hitler for his treatment of the Jews while personally believing in the suppression of Maycomb's African-American citizens. Lee projects an attitude that formal schooling is actually a detriment and a waste of time: Children can learn more from their worldly experiences than from the time spent in a classroom.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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