A lesson well taught

A Lesson Well Taught Albert Einstein once said, “ The only thing that gets in the way of my learning is my education. ” I feel that is a good summary of the two different methods of learning that Atticus and Miss Caroline, characters from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, have. The two teachers styles are very different and make for different results in those who listen to their teachings. Miss Caroline has a strict rule of her classroom. She teaches at a specific and very slow pace to accompany the members of the class who had been in the first grade for many years without likelihood of passing. She takes for granted the attention span and interests of her class from the very beginning. She reads a story about cats which “ has the class wriggling like a bucketful of Catawba worms, ” (16). Miss Caroline Fischer believes that her new Dewey Decimal System way of teaching is the best method. She refuses to let Scout be taught by her father anymore because “ it would interfere with my reading” (17) and “ it’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind, ” (17). Her new method of teaching slowly spread throughout the entire school which made Scout’s education seem very dull, as Scout already knew how to read and write. Miss Fischer punishes Scout for her gift of learning to read and write early by chastising her. This causes Scout to wonder how she had picked up these talents. In her head she thinks she “ could not remember when the lines above Atticus’s moving finger separated into words, ” (18). Miss Caroline tries to implant the idea that she has learned to read incorrectly and that she will not succeed if she continues to be taught by her father, although he never really taught her how to read. Atticus is not a teacher in the most common sense of the word. He does not teach Scout how to read, write, or do arithmetic. He teaches her lessons of life, which she can carry with her until she can pass them along to her children. His lessons are usually taught through explaining circumstances to her and telling her that she can learn from other people’s situations. One act that shows Atticus’s wisdom is when they talk about returning to school. After Miss Caroline’s behavior towards Scout, the little girl doesn’t want to go back and would rather be taught by her father. Scout defends her decision with the fact that the Ewell kids are not forced to attend school besides the first day. Atticus tells her “ You, Miss Scout Finch, are of the common folk. You must obey the law, ” (30). He also states that “ in certain circumstances the common folk judiciously allowed them certain privileges by the simple method of becoming blind to some of the Ewell’s activities, ” (31). Another important lesson that Atticus teaches Scout is to always make sure you find yourself a good person, no matter how people would disagree with your actions. The day that Cecil Jacobs teases Scout about Atticus “ defending niggers” (74), Scout goes home to Atticus asking him if he does, to which he responds affirmatively. Scout poses the question of why he is doing it and he says “ if I didn’t I couldn’t hold my head up in this town, I couldn’t represent this country in legislature, I couldn’t even tell you and Jem not to do something again, ” (75). His answer confuses Scout. She wonders why her father not taking a case would result in her never having to listen to him again. This is another question that she asks him. “…simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess” (76) is his reply. This shows that Atticus is willing to stand up and fight for his beliefs because he knows it is the right thing to do. Atticus fights a losing battle because he believes in the equal rights of African-Americans. Atticus also teaches Jem the lesson of true bravery. Mrs. Dubose recently passed on and Atticus explains to Jem that he doesn’t realize the strength that woman had. She was addicted to morphine but left the world broken off of the drug. He tells Jem “ It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. ” (112) That is the true meaning of bravery, according to Atticus. He shares this lesson with Jem, teaching him not to judge a book by its cover at the same time. Atticus and Miss Caroline are both good teachers in their own way. However, the fact that Atticus teaches lessons that can be reflected through one’s life is more important than the simple learning of multiplication and proper cursive.