Those Schoolgirl Days

To Sir, with Love places Sidney Poitier in another dignified profession. This time he’s a black teacher to a bunch of mostly white students. At this point I’d already seen Poitier’s Oscar winning role and his other two groundbreaking movies released in 1967. So my mom informed me that To Sir, with Love was the next one my brother and I should see. It’s one of the earliest movies to popularize the “teacher helps a group of troubled inner city youths” genre. Ironically placing Poitier in the teacher role, instead of the student role (like in Blackboard Jungle).

Mark Thackeray is an American stuck teaching cockney poorly behaved students in England. At first they think they can just walk all over him, but he’s much too proper for that. When he loses his temper, Mr. Thackeray realizes the only way to teach these students is to literally throw out the books. Now deciding it’s best to treat each of the blossoming adults as such. By helping them to respect themselves, teaching them to cook, how to find a spouse, and discussing any part of the adult world. Even enriching their minds with trips to the museum.

Teaching methods that modern education could benefit from. Of course there are always hold outs, but by the end everyone comes to respect Sir. The issue of race doesn’t even come up very often. Since a lot of the students are dealing with problems at home that help them relate with one another. Lulu plays a student and sings the successful titular song that inspires him to stay. To Sir, with Love demenstates why teaching and understanding go hand in hand.


Sir teaches his class

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