Letter from Miss Caroline: In-class creative writing
Directions: Education is a thematic topic that Lee revisits repeatedly in To Kill a Mockingbird, and through this, she seems to be making a statement about where true education takes place. One character Lee uses to make a statement about education is Miss Caroline Fisher, Scout’s first teacher. Using the first person point of view, put in yourself into Caroline’s shoes, and write a letter describing her first day of school. Address the letter to Miss Caroline’s mother who lives in Northern, Alabama.
As you write: Consider Lee’s theme, or message, about education. Does she find formal education effective? Does Miss Caroline’s brand of education fit the Maycomb clientele? What “blind spots” might someone from a larger city who had a formal education have in Maycomb society? You must also keep in mind Miss Caroline’s characterization. She is a young, educated woman who likely has an optimistic view of schooling children in Southern Alabama. Her grammar will be impeccable, and her diction will be slightly elevated above that of Maycomb’s citizens; however, she is from the South, so she may, at times, have a Southern dialect.
I.Date (make sure it is appropriate to the setting of the novel)
II.Salutation or greeting – Dear _____________,
III.Introductory paragraph: In a minimum of three sentences, provide a background for Miss Caroline’s situation. Capture her tone, or attitude, toward Maycomb society and her students.Be sure to consider how she feels about Maycomb’s ways, since she is an outsider.
IV.Body paragraph one: Discuss some of Miss Caroline’s students, such as Burris Ewell, Little Chuck Little, and Walter Cunningham. You may discuss a little bit about what happened in class; however, avoid summarizing. Focus on explaining how Miss Caroline’s feels about her students based on what happened in school today. To do this, consider:How might she feel about Burris Ewell and Walter Cunningham? How will her attitude reveal her lack of experience with real world issues? What does Maycomb society know that she has yet to learn about these families? How might her words show her lack of understanding of her students’ background? Try to remember, she cares about her job and her students … she just doesn’t have much experience with them.
V.Body paragraph two: In this paragraph, discuss her tone, or attitude toward Scout Finch. How does she feel about the education Scout has received outside of school? Why might she find this form of education inappropriate and insufficient?Compare it with her own efforts/methods of teaching? How do they differ?Again, avoid summarizing.
VI.Conclusion: With your conclusion, provide a look toward the future. How might Miss Caroline feel about the upcoming school year? How might she choose to approach these students? Finally, provide a thematic statement that Miss Caroline might make about education (remember that it is likely to be different from the one which Lee would supply)
VII.Closing: Close your letter (sincerely, love, all my love, etc.) and sign your letter in first person.
Remember that letters are single-paced. Excellent spelling and grammar is a must.
Go above and beyond by creating Miss Caroline’s stationary or by creating a “photo” of Miss Caroline or her class.
In Chapter 2, Scout begins school and meets her first grade teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher. Miss Caroline is "not more than 21," and, with her auburn hair, pink cheeks, and red-and-white striped dress, she "looked and smelled like a peppermint drop."
Miss Caroline, who is from North Alabama, seems to have no idea about the children she is teaching. She begins by reading them a book about cats who speak, and she does not seem to notice, as Scout says, that the class is "immune to imaginative literature." She also tells Scout that she has to stop reading, as she doesn't believe that Scout just picked it up while sitting with Atticus. Miss Caroline believes that there is only one way to learn, and that Scout needs to learn the correct way to read from her. Jem incorrectly calls this method of teaching the "Dewey Decimal System," but he means that Miss Caroline is following the educational techniques of John Dewey. This form of education, progressive at the time To Kill a Mockingbird takes place, involves the students experiencing the curriculum rather than just being fed information. Miss Caroline, as an inexperienced teacher, takes Dewey's writings as gospel more than as a guide to working with children.