Why is the character of Gillian Blanchard important in the book To Sir With Love?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Gillian is important because she helps to provide the background of the world into which Braithwaite is entering.  Remember that he is not an originally trained teacher.  Presumably, she is.  This means that when she expresses her fear of the students, it can only mean that what Braitwaite is in for is extremely challenging.  She also represents the staff fear of the students, but the good intentions that might be missing on the part of the veteran teachers.  Blanchard genuinely likes the students and presumably likes teaching.  Her fear of the students does not cloud her judgment and assessment of them.  For the newly entered Braithwaite, this is very significant in that he can find someone who actually likes "these kids," which is not as entirely apparent in the staff room.  Blanchard is also important because she provides the bond of professional colleague for Braithwaite.  When the field trips to the muesuems need a chaperone, Blacnhard volunteers.  This shows that she and Braithwaite are forming a professional bond, a connection where teachers can find solidarity amongst one another and in their own presence.  In the end, this becomes a very important element to Braithwaite as he is seeking to become a better teacher and actually does so through collaboration with Blanchard.

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