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In the dining hall, Mr. Braithwaite observes the students having dinner. It is a very organized affair, with the students seated in groups of eight. Two students are assigned to be the servers for the day, and perform their duties quickly and efficiently. When the meal is over, the students are allowed to use the hall for an informal mid-day dance session, and Mr. Braithwaite, who passes through the dancers with Miss Blanchard on his way to meet with the headmaster, is impressed with their skill and a little discomfitted with the earthy suggestiveness in their movements.
Mr. Florian wastes no time in getting to the point when Mr. Braithwaite comes into his office. In answer to the headmaster's query about if he would like the job, Mr. Braithwaite responds, "I'll have a shot at it." Pleased, Mr. Florian outlines his policy for the school. He says that the majority of the students have had problems with authority in the past and might be classified as "difficult," but he believes that authority based on fear is bound to fail. Mr. Florian points out that the students, for the most part, come from an environment of poverty, and thus do not show much interest in abstract learning. The goal of the school is to establish an atmosphere of disciplined freedom in which the students will learn to speak up for themselves and become prepared to take their places in the working world. Mr. Braithwaite is at first irritated that Mr. Florian is making such a big issue of the students' difficulties, since they are all white, and as such, will never have to deal with the realities of discrimination and racism. After awhile, his irritation passes, and he discovers a sense of respect for the headmaster and his views, as well as some doubt about if they will work. Mr. Braithwaite will be teaching Mr. Hackman's "top class," the oldest students in the school, and will share responsibility for boys' P.T. with the other male teachers. When he returns to the classroom, the other teachers welcome him aboard, although Weston expresses cynical uncertainty as to whether he will be able to handle the precocious students who make up the top class. Mrs. Drew offers to brief Mr. Braithwaite on the daily routine he will be following, and he spends the rest of the afternoon observing in her classroom.
On his way home, Mr. Braithwaite is joyful to have at long last landed a job, and looks forward to "working on terms of dignified equality in an established profession." He had not set out to be a teacher out of "any sense of vocation;" his choice of career had been forced upon him by "the very urgent need to eat," and "a chain of unhappy circumstances" that began immediately after his demobilization from the Royal Air Force (Chapter 3).
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