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Friday, August 07, 2009

'To Sir With Love' presentation

Why film?
  • Shift from print to visual culture
  • Different from other texts
  • Sidney Poitier- First African- American actor to win Oscars (1963)
  • Poitier in Blackboard Jungle (1955)
  • Sequel -To Sir With Love II (1996)
  • Based on the memoir of E R Braithwaite
  • Broke box-office records in 1967 in the US
The Film
Title: To Sir with Love (1966/7)
Director: James Clavell
Producer: James Clavell
Script: James Clavell (from the novel by E.R. Braithwaite -1959)
Cinematography: Paul Beeson

The Cast
Sidney Poitier -Mark Thackeray
Christian Roberts -Denham
Judy Geeson -Miss Pamela Dare
Suzy Kendall -Gillian Blanchard
Ann Bell -Mrs. Dare
Faith Brook -Grace Evans
Chris Chittell -Potter
Geoffrey Bayldon -Weston
Patricia Routledge -Clinty

The Story
  • Why does Mr Thackeray take to teaching?
  • His early experiences of the school, of students, and staff
  • “Ah, so you're the new lamb for the slaughter - or should I say, black sheep?” – Weston
  • The classroom experience
  • Mr Thackeray learns! Or students teach him (Thackeray loses temper)
  • The realisation and the change (books find a better place!)
  • The test of the new relationship
  • Too fat to jump - Thackeray becomes PT teacher
  • Seal’s mother dies
  • Pamela’s issue
  • The museum visit
  • Survival training
  • Thackeray gets a letter
  • The farewell party
  • The dance
  • The gift
  • ‘To sir with love’
  • The next term’s class – mission incomplete
DVD Chapters
1. The start
2. North Quay Secondary School
3. The staff
4. Mid-day dance session
5. Hackman’s classes
6. The silent treatment
7. Their proper places
8. Seales
9. Studying South America
10. Pranks & filthy games
11. Responsible adults
12. Questions and answers
13. Thackeray’s story
14. The museum trip
15. Miss Dare’s move
16. Surviving training
17. Mark & Gillian
18. Too high for Fats
19. Passing the hat
20. Mrs Dare
21. “I got me a job”
22. Counselling Miss Dare
23. A boxing lesson
24. The Seales’ funeral
25. The celebration begins
26. Ladies’ choice
27. A little remembrance
28. Next term’s class

  • Racial issues
  • Inspirational teacher
  • Education as a catalyst
  • Teenage angst
  • Mr Thackeray v students
  • Mr Thackeray v other teachers
  • Pedagogy
  • Leadership
Thackeray’s Battle
  • Against
  • Narrow-minded administrators
  • In-bred social ideas – race, difficult children
  • Pessimistic colleagues
  • Student crush
  • Many more….

Relevance in Higher Education

l The film deals with secondary education

l Experiential learning

l Emphasis on emotional needs

l Understanding concepts rather than challenging them

l Does not includes the concerns of higher education

Some Questions
  • How does Thackeray help his students to break out of the pattern of intolerance and roughness into which the society had placed them?
  • What are the preconceived ideas that Mark Thackeray and his students have of each other? What makes them change these ideas?
  • The concept of human beings able to alter their ways is a crucial element in the film. How far do you think is it possible in the case of rural as well as urban India marked by rigid social structures like caste, family tradition, parental pressure, and market driven society?
  • What could be the social and environmental conditions that are responsible for the condition of the children in the film?
  • In what ways can the film be adapted to the Indian situation?
  • Critics argue that the film portrays a simplistic, commercially palatable rather than a realistic image of the challenges of teaching, leading the viewer to a distorted perception of the implications of the various discourses employed. Do you agree with it?
  • What are the different notions of education (discourses) at work in the film?
  • Is the notion of education prescribed in the film problematic, practical or idealistic?
  • Thackeray’s character has been accused of making students conformists and not critical thinkers. Do you agree with this view? Did Thackeray have a choice?
  • Attempt a character sketch of Mark Thackeray?
  • Do we have such disadvantaged schools and children? What can we do to bring them to the mainstream?

  • Switch off the lights
  • Close the taps
  • Throw the cups in dustbins
  • Do not misplace books in the library
Grateful to…..


l Rajan

l Mr Kennedy, Tana

l The Dept of Media Studies

l Deans and dept heads and teachers

l Akshay Rajmohan

YOU become a TEACHER -with a difference.

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