To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite is another book that I picked up while I was in Ahmedabad. I began reading it last week, and couldn’t put it down till I finished it today.
It is a book that can best be described as inspiring. It is a semi-autobiographical account of E.R. Braithwaite, a Negro who becomes a teacher not out of choice, but out of compulsion, because no one is ready to offer him a decent job on account of his colouring. He gets a job as a teacher in a London school that is renowned for all the wrong reasons – the students there are ill-mannered, stinking and with absolutely no sense of discipline.
The book tells the story of how Braithwaite entered the school with a sense of bitterness and faced with such an impossible class, and later learnt to love the children as his own and how he transformed them with love and dedication, sometimes putting them in their place and making them feel ashamed. With his constant efforts, he trains them to be disciplined children, taking a keen interest in studies and in the fine arts. In the course of his teaching career, he also meets and falls in love with a colleague of his, Gillian, the relationship facing a lot of problems just because of the colour of his skin.
I loved Braithwaite’s level of involvement in teaching the class, and his commitment to transforming them into decent human beings. I felt inspired by him, going ahead in spite of his problems. I loved his kindheartedness with the children, not to mention his tender love for Gillian. I could relate a lot to Braithwaite’s thought process. Braithwaite is another character added to my list of would-like-to-meet-literary-characters.
If and when I become a teacher, I would like to be one like Braithwaite. With the same level of commitment and involvement. This is the second book about a teacher to have impressed me greatly, the first one being Tuesdays With Morrie.
It is a wonderfully written book and has a profound impact, in spite of its small size. It joins the rank of my most favourite books, and I would say it is worth a read for everyone for the lessons it carries.
This beautiful book has been made into a movie, and I really can’t wait to get hold of it.
My rating: 4.5 stars
Have you read this book or seen the movie? Do share your thoughts about them.
Song on my mind: