There are moments in the classroom when I know I have accomplished what I hoped. What a great way to end the year! Every year I get to teach my favorite book of all time: To Kill A Mockingbird. I love the two story lines, the child narrator who reminds us of the joys of being a kid, the innocence of children witnessing the ugliness of racism, and how the book deals with a historical past that has never been more interesting or relevant than it is this year. And so we read it, thought about it, timelined the events, questioned, and even found out a little more about the Civil Rights movement.
But my success wasn't measured by my students reaction to the book, but rather by their reaction to the movie. I wouldn't let them watch it until after they took the test over the novel. A student turned to me when the movie ended and said, "Promise me you won't show that to next year's classes or any of your other classes ever again." Gregory Peck made a wonderful Atticus, but my students realized that the movie couldn't begin to live up to the book. So much is left out that Boo Radley coming to rescue the kids at the end doesn't even seem plausible. The movie didn't show how pathetic Mayella Ewell's life was or how much she needed a Tom Robinson to befriend her. And these children of technology and movies and instant gratification realized how powerful a book can be. For once, they preferred reading the book to watching the movie. And for a High School English teacher, that is SUCCESS.