After a little bit of wheedling, I managed to talk hubby J into reading Harper Lee's book. "It's an American classic," I told him, although I also warned him that there would be expressions and nouns he wouldn't know the meaning of, specific as them seemed to be to 1930s Alabama.
J is more than halfway through the book now and commented to me over breakfast that the state of education hasn't seemed to have changed much in the United States.
"State of education?" I asked.
"Yes. I see there is still a model of trying out various 'modern' techniques on children, with censure for those children, like Scout, who don't comply with the new method of doing things. After all, it's obvious that Scout's language abilities exceed that of her peers. And yet she is being punished for it."
This is a topic near and dear to our hearts and the reason we took the non-trivial decision to homeschool our children for now. We know all about the odd child out being picked upon by their educators. We couldn't escape it in Australia and the pattern has now repeated itself in Malaysia.
The Wast, being asked to build a model of where he'd like to live, was criticised by his teacher when he built and furnished a small cardboard warehouse. He was told he wasn't being "creative" and "it's complicated" to build a home. Hmmmmm, considering that, in his ten years, The Wast has moved across four countries and three continents and watched as we set up at least one home in each of those countries, I considered the comment to be, shall we say, less then helpful.
Telling his Living Skills teacher that he did some cooking at home earnt him laughs from his teacher, joined by the rest of the class. He obtained the sobriquet of "Nonsense Boy" as a result. Making a remark that indicated that he disagreed with his Moral Education teacher, the close-minded and vengeful Miss Susann, resulted in a two-stroke caning.
While what Scout endured was benign in comparison, her run-ins with her teacher got both J and I thinking about attitudes towards children. Who does it benefit to laugh at our children or treat them with disrespect? Does it benefit the children? Or is it for the sole purpose of mollifying adult insecurities? And what does that say about societies where such adult insecurities take precedence over a child's way of thinking?
Both J and I admire Atticus Finch but what we admire about him is not so much that he stands up for the rights of others in public. A lot of people do that and, to us, that is not the strength of To Kill A Mockingbird. To us, the one pure strength of Atticus Finch is that he carries that attitude with him even within his own home, where there's nobody there to impress. He treats his children as he would like to be treated, talking and listening to them with respect and love, and that's why he tops our list of Parent Role Models. Do you have any from your favourite books that you'd like to name?