To Kill a Mockingbird is a book mainly about courage. Moreover, it contrasts and compares courage against many other themes in order to show the importance of courage. Throughout the book, Atticus, Jem, Scout, Tom and "Boo" Radley displayed courage. Courage shown by the aforementioned characters are contrasted and compared with the lack of education, fear and the prejudice of most of the Maycomb population. These comparisons exemplify the real courage of the above characters, and bring the reader to 'climb into their skin and walk around in it.'
The book is set in the late 1930s'. During that time, many people are not well educated (or if they are educated, they are not educated very well. The exception is Atticus). Harper Lee showed this lack of education in general by depicting it through Miss Caroline--a first grade teacher for the school in Maycomb.
Miss Caroline discouraged Scout from reading when she discovered that Scout could read.
This showed the rigidness of the teaching system in those days (and it also showed the rigidness of people's beliefs about things such as the Dewey Decimal System). The reader receives a surprising shock, because Miss Caroline is a teacher and she is discouraging a student to read and write, "...tell your father to stop teaching you anymore, it will interfere with your learning. It's best to start reading with a fresh mind...you tell him I'll take over from here, and try to undo the damage..." and "...besides, we don't write in the first grade...you won't learn until the third grade..." This shows the incompetence of the public education system at that time. It also implies that most people are very rigid about their beliefs.
Atticus on the other hand, has the courage and wisdom to see through the awful education system...