Comments on the pupils' way of thinking in "To Sir, with Love".

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The issue of how the pupils' think in To Sir, With Love highlights some of the challenging elements in teaching.  The students featured in Braithwaite's classroom represents the type of students who have bee consistently dismissed and deferred by the social and academic settings.  They have appropriated a sense of "learned helplessness" to an exponential degree and serve as reminders of what happens when the education discards children as incapable of learning.  The students' way of thinking is tempered with mistrust and skepticism about authority, as this has been their experience.  These students feel have come to discard learning and the authority figures that represent it, as they, themselves, have been discarded.  When students are neglected, their way of thinking is rooted in the results of denial of opportunity and lack of encouragement.  Braithwaite's endeavors are testimonials to the idea that teaching is not merely about content, but rather consists of being able to earn credibility and trust with one's students.  Braithwaite learns that his need to have to earn the respect of his students, to counter the lack of trust these students have, becomes critically important to his mission of thinking and to his students' learning.  In understanding this way of thinking, that his students are the byproducts of educational and social neglect, Braithwaite learns how essential it is to win over "the hearts and minds" of one's students.  He understands this this is critical in his students' way of thinking.