How Do We Teach “To Kill a Mockingbird” Now? - Yes! Magazine

I am sitting in my eighth-grade civics class learning what it is to be an American. Around me, the cool kids wear Abercrombie and Fitch, and I do too, ever since I convinced my parents to buy me some. (I cycle relentlessly through my three precious items; one is a dark olive-green “muscle tee” whose purpose is entirely lost on my slight frame.) Our textbook cover bears the rippling glory of the stars and stripes. In it, we learn about the three branches of government and major Supreme Court cases. We read and discuss novels like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird. We watch movies. An adaptation of Mockingbird and High Noon, black-and-white movies about White (not Black) heroes.

On this day, on a boxy television screen, Gregory Peck, tall and handsome in his button-down vest, grapples with his sense of duty — to community, to loved ones, to the ideals of law and nation. Peck stands up to an angry mob and offers a vision of who I might become: a movie star.

Or, failing that, Atticus Finch…