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Why This High School Teacher Thinks To Kill a Mockingbird Should Stay in The Classroom

Why This High School Teacher Thinks To Kill a Mockingbird Should Stay in The Classroom


Many of you have read To Kill a Mockingbird as a summer reading novel going into your freshman year of high school. This award winning novel has brought tons of controversy over the years due to language and content. Since the publication of this book many parents have tried to get the book removed from reading lists and school libraries deeming it too inappropriate for their children. The reasoning behind these parents challenging the novel is due to its take on rape and incest, as well as the use of the N-word or depiction of racism. In 2016 a Virginia school district removed the book after a parent complained about the racial slurs within the novel.  Most recently the fight to get Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird off of school reading lists and removed from curriculum is still going on. This recent removal occurred due to the language and uncomfortable feeling people got during their reading. A school board in Biloxi, Mississippi decided to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee because the language content made people feel uncomfortable. With these new events occurring with this novel I reached out  to my former English teacher from my high school in Texas to get her thoughts on the removal of TKM in some school districts and this is what I gathered.


Q.) Why do you think it’s important to keep TKM in the classroom?

A.)  TKM speaks to a sort of archetypal righteousness in the face of deep seated bigotry and is easily accessible by young people.


Q.) How do you handle the uncomfortable content in the book within your classroom?

A.) WE discuss the content openly. Freshmen are well aware of difficult ideas via media before they enter my room.


Q.)  Have you ever had a parent request their child not read the book due to the uncomfortable content or racial slurs? How did you handle the situation?

    A.) I’ve never had any concerns from parents or students.


After talking to my former teacher I realized how important it is to keep this book in classrooms. To Kill a Mockingbird, although a highly controversial book the content teaches many lessons to young adults. The situations of discrimination, racism, cruelty and even just growing up are all topics familiar to teens during the middle school/high school years of their life. This book is used as a learning tool to build a connection between reader and character help students to see life’s struggles through someone else and how they can choose to deal with them.  The topics within this book need to be discussed it’s not something that can just be looked over or replaced with a different book or learning topic. The discussion of racism, discrimination, cruelty and rape should be discussed in an environment where kids feel safe to ask questions, because some won’t ask about it at home. Although, all very serious topics they relate greatly to the media and society we live in and see day to day in the media.  Teaching these lessons through novels in the classroom promote an in class discussion and a further the learning of the situations. This also allows teachers to guide these discussions in a safe and judgement free environment so students can ask questions and become involved. This also gives students another person to talk to about these topics other than their parents. This also helps the student to connect current events to what happening in the book and having the teacher there to explain it. By taking TKM or novels like it out of the classroom due to language or content that students may already know causes a void in the knowledge of the content. Also they miss out of guided discussions because some kids won’t talk about the content at home with their parents.


Michaela is a rising Senior at the University of Colorado Boulder where she is majoring in psychology and working towards minors in education and leadership. Outside of the classroom, Michaela is a founding member of the Phi Mu Xi Alpha chapter and a 4-year member of Her Campus x CU. On the weekend you can find Michaela shopping on Pearl St. or driving up to the mountains.
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