To Sir, with Love Questions and Answers
by E. R. Braithwaite

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Please explain the student/ teacher relationship presented in To Sir, with Love.  Along these lines, explain the relationship between Braithwaite and Gillian.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the most elemental components of the student/teacher relationship in the novel is respect.  Braithwaite is able to resist the incessant "teacher baiting" because he displays respect toward his students.  At first, this approach does not yield much in way of results.  However, the student- teacher relationship that emerges over the course of the narrative is that good teaching can only transpire if there is a relationship between instructor and pupil.  All other instruction is secondary.  The student- teacher relationship demonstrated in the novel is predicated upon this respect.  Part of the reason why Braithwaite is initially rebuffed and eventually embraced is because he does not sacrifice this respect for something temporal.  As a result, Braithwaite embodies transformative teaching because respect is at the forefront of his interactions with students.  When students do not miss school in the final week, it is a reflection of such respect.

Such a respect transcends arbitrary social boundaries, such as the traditional construction between teacher and student.  It strikes at the heart of how people treat one another.  Braithwaite recognizes the importance of treating his students with respect, who in turn embrace reciprocity with him.  This same type of respect is evident in his relationship with Gillian.  The novel demonstrates how mutual and reciprocal respect can transcend social construction, even in the issue of race.  Though experiencing the challenges of an interracial couple, it is evident that the respect between Gillian and Braithwaite is the element that will allow them to endure and eventually triumph. Respect is shown to be transformative in the art of teaching. Gillian and Braithwaite's relationship is shown to be empowering as it helps them face and conquer the obstacles to their love.

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vamkitten | Student

To me it is just a relationship that anyone could have and people who could fall for anyone