How was Mr. Braithwaite sucessful with teaching in To Sir, With Love?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Braithwaite becomes successful as a teacher by taking charge of the class and establishing an atmosphere of mutual respect.  He defines his objectives and role for the students, describing himself as a teacher who will "try to make (his) teaching as interesting as possible".  He encourages the students' input, and, most importantly, tells the students that, as they will soon "be embarked on the very adult business of earning a living", he has decided that "from now on (they) will be treated, not as children, but as young men and women".  In exchange for the respect they will receive, the students will be expected to act courteously and responsibly.  Mr. Braithwaite takes the lead in setting an example of proper adult behavior, and holds the students accountable for acting in a like manner, towards him and towards each other (Chapter 9).

Mr. Braithwaite had received a good deal of advice on the best way to approach his class.  The Headmaster's philosophy is that the development of the students "should neither (be) forced nor restricted at the arbitrary whim of any individual in a position to exercise... authority over them"; he endeavors to establish at the school an atmosphere of "disciplined freedom" (Chapter 3).  When students try to undermine Mr. Braithwaite's authority, a fellow teacher urges him to take an opposite route and not "take any crap from them, any of them" (Chapter 6), but when Mr. Braithwaite takes her advice and approaches his class with an authoritarian tone, he finds that the class, while being outwardly compliant, essentially shuts him out.  It is only when Mr. Braithwaite follows his own instincts and adopts the method previously described that he is able to reach the students and be successful with his teaching.