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The above post points to the relevance of the autobiography. The remark about the relevancy of teaching students about life is cogent, yet nowadays teachers are marked down on their evaluations for being "off-task." So often socially disadvantaged students need these lessons far more than those in the textbook. In addition, when a teacher shows that she/he cares personally for the students, they often, then, take more of an interest in their learning. This truth is evinced in To Sir with Love.
Regarding some of the situations in which Braithwaite finds himself, teachers nowadays could not get involved without endangering their jobs. Going to the funeral, for instance, could easily be misconstrued with becoming too familiar with the students.
Part of the reason why Braithwaite's work is seen as so important to the profession of teaching is because it is quite honest about one's experiences in the classroom. Braithwaite's first experiences in the classroom are similar to most first year teachers. I know that it paralleled mine. The overwhelming feelings of stress, ineffectiveness, and personal failure all combined to make an emotional cocktail of despair. In the end, this is the legacy of Braithwaite's work. It shows that teachers do not have to suffer in isolation, feeling that they are the only ineffective educator starting out in a tough profession. Braithwaite's work is a calling to all teachers, starting out or seasoned, that says there is nothing wrong with reflection and thought about how one can be more effective in the classroom. The moment when Braithwaite decides to be more relevant to his students in teaching them about "life" and in his stress that learning in the classroom does not solely reside in it is where I think that the work speaks the most to teachers. In an age of greater teacher accountability, high stakes standardized assessment, and constant scrutiny, the lessons of reflection, passion, and strength through resiliency seem more relevant now than ever.
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