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To Sir with Love

Posted on Jul 22, 2014 by Shradha Patnaik | Category: Blog, The Good Teacher Series | Comments: none

Good teachers are born, not made. –Anonymous

Today’s blog on the good teacher takes cue from E. R. Braithwaite’s autobiographical note, To Sir, With Love, written in 1959. Basing his story on true events that occurred in his school, Braithwaite talks about his journey as an accidental teacher and how he comes to form a relationship based on trust with his students. Once a teacher realises her/his true calling, s/he feels for the students. This coming of age novel encourages teachers to be sensitive towards the students’ needs and realise that no amount of education, tricks or ideas can work if you are not passionate about teaching.

It is a common occurrence for teachers to find certain students in class who don’t accept them and are maybe averse to being taught by them. At this point, a good teacher is someone, who instead of punishing the students or giving up, sets ground rules for them. A good teacher constantly works towards gaining acceptance from her/his students and winning their trust.

Seeking ways to break through to her/his students, a good teacher finds herself/himself to be controlled and intelligent. S/he will be able to tame her/his students and teach them self-respect. A very important quality displayed by a good teacher here is tact. A good teacher is tactful and resolves issues carefully. This trait is displayed by Braithwaite when he realises the needs of his students and what they really want to learn and how his students progress from disruption and distasteful pranks to learning the importance of education and eventually turning into gentlemen and ladies. He is calm and resists his students’ negative attitude and remains motivated not to be baited or manipulated by them.

This is exactly where self-restraint comes in. Not letting negative thoughts and attitudes affect her/him, a good teacher continues to believe in the good that rests in every student, relates to them and imbibes in them the faith that education is important in everyone’s life. Relating to a student’s needs, a good teacher understands the need for inventive and genuine approaches to overcome teaching challenges.

Teaching students the importance of education, a good teacher not only teaches them, but also learns from her/his students. S/he allows students to ask questions and be clear about what they learn and also realise the importance of building character and determination.

Building on this attitude, a good teacher exemplifies a selfless nature and helps her/his students mature. Making students able to adapt to their environment and the world around themselves, a good teacher also adapts herself/himself according to the changes in the needs of the students. This is what a good teacher is. S/he understands that it is the students and not the teacher who matters most and in this process makes the children realise their own worth and importance.

Here is a video from the movie which was adapted from the novel mentioned above. The song was a gift from the students to the teacher thanking him for his time, patience, love and dedication to them and shows how the students’ love in turn completely overcomes him by emotions. This song is a dedication to all the teachers out there who not only struggle but also find their way through into their students’ lives.

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About the Author

Shradha Patnaik
Shradha Patnaik
Senior Associate- Corporate Communications

“Education for me is the ability to open my mind to learn things every day. I learn, therefore I am.”
Shradha Patnaik is a graduate in Political Science Honours from Delhi University. She has completed her Post Graduation in Radio and Television Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Her interest lies in the field of communication and child development. Shradha is also pursuing a Masters degree in Gender and Development Studies from IGNOU.

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