How do the children react to getting a new teacher in To Sir, with Love?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Mr. Braithwaite first arrives in his classroom at Greenslade Secondary School, he is met with disregard and flippancy.

In Chapter Six as their new teacher enters the classroom, the students who are standing around in small groups pay no attention to his entrance. Gradually, however, they take a seat. When...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

When Mr. Braithwaite first arrives in his classroom at Greenslade Secondary School, he is met with disregard and flippancy.

In Chapter Six as their new teacher enters the classroom, the students who are standing around in small groups pay no attention to his entrance. Gradually, however, they take a seat. When Braithwaite calls their names, they respond with mere grunts or with a monosyllabic "yep" and "here."

To begin with, Mr. Braithwaite asks students to read in order to ascertain their abilities. As he looks around the classroom, Braithwaite observes a boy with the flap of his desk raised. When he walks back to see what it is that the boy is hiding, Braithwaite notices that he has a flesh-colored doll which he is manipulating in a lewd fashion. "Will you put that away, please?" Braithwaite asks, and the boy lets the desk flap slam down.
Then, after order is restored, Braithwaite asks the students to read; he is appalled at how terribly they do so. Finally, a girl named Pamela Dare reads with fluency and expression. But, after she finishes reading, she looks at Mr. Braithwaite in a defiant manner, "satisfied with this vindication of her colleagues."

After the students' morning break, Mr. Braithwaite conducts a lesson in arithmetic involving weights and measures. He does not receive much response, but one boy who likes to wrestle discusses the various weight classes and another boy named Tich Jackson suddenly responds with all the correct measures of weight. Still, there are quips said by others and some posturing and challenging of Braithwaite's authority. The teacher responds to this disrespect as he sharply says, "That's enough." Then, with deliberate sarcasm, Braithwaite tells his students that while many people he has known have been disturbed by their lack of knowledge, he is impressed that they find it "amusing." Further, he tells his students that he anticipates "a happy time: with them this year." After hearing the teacher imitate their attitude of sarcasm and disrespect, they murmur such things as "bleeding cheek" and their smiling ends. For the rest of the period, the class now listens and pays attention until the lunch bell.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When the students see Mr. Braithwaite in their classroom, they begin to scrutinize him silently. They tensely wait for him to respond to a student who slams a desk when closing it, and no students volunteer to read Treasure Island except Pamela Dare. They are testing Braithwaite, and they are not used to any kind of discipline in the classroom. When Braithwaite asks them about the system of weights and measures, one students responds with a system of boxing weights to mock Braithwaite. What follows this period of resentment and clowning is a long period of the silent treatment in which the students do what Braithwaite asks them, but they do so without any interest or enthusiasm. This is followed by the noisy treatment, when they slam their desks when Braithwaite is trying to speak or read. Braithwaite is at first at a loss about how to reach his students. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team