As a film, discuss if To Sir, with Love shows an ideal representation of the challenges faced in the classroom.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do think that the film depicts an "ideal representation" of life in the classroom.  There is the idea of the teacher being a renegade of change, battling through all obstacles to make a meaningful and lasting impression upon the students taught.  There are moments of epiphanies for both teachers and students and the reality that dawns upon Thackeray at the end of the film in that he heeds "the call" of teaching is what provides inspiration for all budding teachers.  This is the "ideal representation" of how challenges are faced inside and outside of the classroom and how the teacher, while alone on their journey, ends up receiving social solidarity and community from what it is they do.  It is inspiring and presents the "ideal representation" of the profession.  I think that if we were to examine it as whether or not this "ideal representation" is reality, a different picture emerges.  The reality is that teacher turnover is high.  In some areas, student dropout rates and teacher dropout rates are strikingly similar.  Thackeray is presented as a teacher who struggles, but never loses sight of his vision and his purpose of being.  At the same time, he teaches in an arena where administrators are apathetic, but still supportive and stakeholders might question what he does, but never interfere in how he does it.  I am not entirely certain if these realities exist today, where teachers are more scrutinized than ever.  Thackeray does not have to deal with "value added" teacher assessment measures and certainly does not have to deal with Adequate Yearly Progress.  Consider that Thackeray literally "does away with textbooks" because they do not represent "real learning" to his students.  While this is "ideal," it is hard to imagine that in an urban school setting, a starting teacher would be able to eliminate textbook based and standards based education.  In the end, the film is an ideal representation.  The question that has to be addressed is whether or not this ideal is something feasible to which teachers can hitch their wagons or if such an ideal makes the reality almost too painful to endure.

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To Sir, with Love

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