Read To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite Online


Based on the author's own experiences, this is the story of a black teacher's trials and triumphs with a group of senior pupils in a tough, overcrowded London school....

Title : To Sir, With Love
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780340596272
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 189 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

To Sir, With Love Reviews

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-03-17 08:51

    This may not be exactly the edition I read "back when". This is another book my girl friend from high school gets credit for me reading. In the heated racial atmosphere of the 60s and 70s this was a well read book (and of course inspired a well known movie, whose theme became a hit song).Unlike a couple of romances I read more sticks with me from this book. The scenes of the teacher confronting the (at first) rowdy "youths" he is attempting to teach and the frankly (for the time) lewd actions of some of them contrasts markedly from the people he's teaching by the end of the book.This isn't a bad read. I remember being moved by it (though teens do seem to feel things more intensely) the book still does a job of reaching out to the heart of the reader.

  • Stacy
    2019-03-06 14:36

    I loved this book; it made me cry. I have heard the movie is good too, but I have never seen it.

  • obh
    2019-03-13 12:55

    A No frills book. Read it during train-journey at night (yes, people still use this old mode of transportation). This book is highly relevant to the current Indian situation, caste and colour have played a great role in the past centuries in India, only after Independence has it been considered as a crime. But still the social stigma of being born into the lower caste has its effect on the minds and hearts of many young children. In Britain it was if you're black you might as well die, in India if you're from the low-caste you might as well die too. No doubt we had many great leaders from the so called "lower" castes, Ambedkar is my personal favorite, this book opens your eyes to the prejudice that we have inspite of the indifference between people. Hope we all learn from this book!PS. I wish I could have a teacher like that!

  • Gehna
    2019-03-01 14:46

    5 Brilliant Braithwaite Stars!!This book is a piece of nonfiction narrated by Braithwaite about his experience of teaching teenagers. Braithwaite, black in color gets a job in a school after many refusals because of his skin color. Though the other staff members accepted him, the students were hateful towards him and the story shows how Braithwaite changed this hate to love.This is a very special book for me as it reminds me of a teacher I have. Those so many things she taught us, apart from academics. As first, we, the students, thought she was very strict but as days went by, we realized that no one can be better than her.This book is so real. Am sure it has forced all the readers to associate one of their teachers with Braithwaite because he shows the actual relation of a teacher and student :DRecommended for everyone!! :)

  • booklady
    2019-02-26 10:32

    To Sir with Love was one of my favorite movies when I was younger. Secretly I was in love with Sidney Poitier and envious of his students. Why couldn’t I have a teacher like that? The book is well worth reading for a couple reasons. For one thing, it’s more realistic than the movie. As is usual in movies, story-line was sacrificed to intensify drama. In the book you have narration, background, and real characters including development. It’s less gripping perhaps, but infinitely preferable.Also, the actual book has another purpose, which the movie largely ignores—the story of a highly educated black veteran who tries to find employment in post-World War II England and instead encounters very real forms of racial bigotry. Here’s how the author describes it: ‘To many in Britain a Negro is a “darky” or a “nigger” or a “black”; he is identified, in their minds, with inexhaustible brute strength; and often I would hear the remark “working like a nigger” or “laboring like a black ” used to emphasize some occasion of sustained effort. They expect of him a courteous subservience and contentment with a lowly state of menial employment and slum accommodation. It is true that here and there one sees Negroes as doctors, lawyers or talented entertainers, but they are somehow considered “different” and not to be confused with the mass. … I am a Negro, and what had happened to me at that interview constituted, to my mind, a betrayal of faith. I had believed in freedom, in the freedom to live in the kind of dwelling I wanted, providing I was able and willing to pay the price; and in the freedom to work at the kind of profession for which I was qualified, without reference to my racial or religious origins. All the big talk of Democracy and Human Rights seemed as spurious as the glib guarantees with which some manufacturers underwrite their products in the confident hope that they will never be challenged. The Briton at home takes no responsibility for the protestations and promises made in his name by British officials overseas. I reflected on my life in the U.S.A. There, when prejudice is felt, it is open, obvious, blatant; the white man makes his position very clear, and the black man fights those prejudices with equal openness and fervor, using every constitutional device available to him. The rest of the world in general and Britain in particular are prone to point an angrily critical finger, at American intolerance, forgetting that in its short history as a nation it has granted to its Negro citizens more opportunities for advancement and betterment, per capita, than any other nation in the world with an indigenous Negro population. Each violent episode, though greatly to be deplored, has invariably preceded some change, some improvement in the American Negro’s position. … In Britain I found things to be very different. I have yet to meet a single English person who has actually admitted to anti-Negro prejudice; it is even generally believed that no such thing exists here. A Negro is free to board any bus or train and sit anywhere, provided he has paid the appropriate fare; the fact that many people might pointedly avoid sitting near him is casually overlooked. He is free to seek accommodation in any licensed hotel or boarding house—the courteous refusal which frequently follows is never ascribed to prejudice. The betrayal I now felt was greater because it had been perpetrated with the greatest of charm and courtesy.’Later when the teacher, Braithwaite, begins dating a white teacher, he experiences the same type of prejudice, both from the wait staff at restaurants as well as (to a lesser extent) from her parents. Perhaps the omission of the racial issue in the movie was as much due to the medium as anything else. Books allow for asides and explanations which film is at pains to include.However, it could be that Braithwaite’s ‘tell it like it is’ message about the race situation in Great Britain was ahead of its time and something the movie-makers weren’t ready to take on just then. All the more reason to read the book, as well as others by the same author.

  • Harry Rutherford
    2019-03-13 13:53

    I knew that To Sir, With Love was a book about a black Caribbean man struggling with racial prejudice in 1950s London, so I was quite amused that the opening — his description of travelling on a bus full of East End women — reads so much like a white colonial Briton describing the natives of a third world country. It’s the combination of effortless cultural superiority and an anthropological eye.The women carried large heavy shopping bags, and in the ripe mixture of odours which accompanied them, the predominant one hinted at a good haul of fish or fishy things. They reminded me somehow of the peasants in a book by Steinbeck – they were of the city, but they dressed like peasants, they looked like peasants, and they talked like peasants. Their cows were motor-driven milk floats; their tools were mop and pail and kneeling pad; their farms a forest of steel and concrete. In spite of the hairgrips and headscarves, they had their own kind of dignity.They joshed and chivvied each other and the conductor in an endless stream of lewdly suggestive remarks and retorts, quite careless of being overheard by me – a Negro, and the only other male on the bus. The conductor, a lively, quick-witted felllow, seemed to know them all well enough to address them on very personal terms, and kept them in noisy good humour with a stream of quips and pleasantries to which they made reply in kind. Sex seemed little more than a joke to them, a conversation piece which alternated with their comments on the weather, and their vividly detailed discussions on their actual or imagined ailments.There was another particularly fine example of the type later on the book:I did not go over to him: these Cockneys are proud people and prefer to be left to themselves at times when they feel ashamed.It could be a conscious literary decision to subvert expectations, but firstly Braithwaite doesn’t particularly strike me as that kind of writer — he’s generally pretty direct — and also I can imagine a white British writer with a similar educational background writing in much the same way; like Orwell’s representation of the proles in 1984.In other words it’s partially a class thing; Braithwaite was from a very educated background; both his parents went to Oxford, which I assume was pretty rare in Guyana at the start of the C20th, and he studied in New York before serving as a pilot in the RAF during the war and then doing a Master’s degree at Cambridge. But then race is always partially about class. The class structure is one of the ways that racial status can be monitored and enforced. And it was only because of Braithwaite’s race that he was doing what no similarly educated white Briton would be doing: working as a teacher in a grotty East End secondary school. He was rejected from all the engineering jobs which he was better qualified to do, often on explicitly racial grounds in the days when it was legal to tell people that to their faces, and fell into teaching because it was the only option available.So that’s the set-up: educated, well-dressed black man takes a job teaching in a run-down East End school full of problem teenagers. And if you’ve ever seen a movie where an inspiring teacher goes to work in a deprived inner city school, you pretty much know how the rest of it plays out: he is stern but wise and passionate, and he overcomes their initial hostility and prejudice to teach them the value of education and good manners, and above all he teaches them self respect. And he in turn learns his own lessons, about not being such a snobby prude (although he doesn’t learn the lesson that if you’re a grown man writing about fifteen and sixteen year old girls, there are only so many times you can mention their breasts before it starts to seem a bit creepy).I’m being a bit glib; there is a lot that’s interesting about this book, and it’s well written. But when I say it’s like a Hollywood movie: it really does read like that. And of course you wonder if it’s too good to be true. Clearly he is an impressive man, and I can believe he was an inspiring teacher, and I expect the broad outlines are all true… but for something which claims to be non-fiction, it just seems like it was written by someone who was willing to burnish the truth for the sake of a good story.It’s not that I fetishise historical accuracy for its own sake — I don’t have much objection to things like characters being composites of several people — but I do worry that I’m getting a less perceptive, less insightful book if too many if the complications and contradictions have been tidied away.To Sir, With Love is my book from Guyana for the Read The World challenge. I seem to have been harder on it than I really intended. I think it’s probably fairest to say it’s a good book which has aged badly. But there’s still plenty to like about it.

  • Sarah AlObaid
    2019-03-18 08:42

    4.5 stars. This book was a very interesting read. It tells the story of Braithwaite, a middle-aged black man, when he gets a job as a teacher in an all-white school in England which is, more or less, not very reputable. The book shows the ever-present prejudice against colored people in the 40's/50's and how difficult it was for them to fit into a racist society, although most of the time it's not openly so. Since racism against black people is very different in England than it is in the United States or other places, we get to see racism that's not blunt, but still equally hurtful and demeaning. And then later on we get to see how a person who studied a completely different field, ends up being one of the best teachers a school has ever seen. I essentially picked this book up upon recommendation from my school librarian since she said it was very similar to The Freedom Writers' Diary. For a long time, and up until now, i was obsessed with The Freedom Writers; both the book and the movie. I love reading about/watching the effect a good, healthy education has on the minds of young people. And To Sir, With Love did not disappoint. It was very shockingly similar to The Freedom Writers, in that the children involved grew up in terrible neighborhoods and had to face problems that were way beyond their age. The two books are also similar in their tackling of racism and prejudice. So if you liked the former, you would probably also like the latter and vice versa.What i disliked about the book, but which i totally understand given the time period in which it was written, is that it had some sexist or backward remarks. They were few and hard to notice, but since i am very concerned with this issue, they bugged me a little. I also found it a bit slow in the first 80-ish pages, but it certainly picks up after that. In the end, i highly, HIGHLY recommend this book. It is very insightful and important.

  • Suzanne
    2019-02-21 07:33

    Another goodie wanting to be re-read. Too young to appreciate first time that I think I will love this second time around. As always, I think of the movie (or should I say video) when as lazy youngsters we would've loved a lazy lesson. And of course all the boys that watched the movie only!

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-17 06:59

    Loved it so... Had studied an excerpt in school and so was excited about reading it. Fulfilled my expectations and more. A truly inspiring and heartwarming story. And surprised at the real amount of snobbish rascism abroad.

  • Indrani Sen
    2019-03-08 12:39

    A heart warming book. A story of a black man winning over the students and parents in the poor but cosmopolitan area of London Eats End. A very positive man and his very positive story.

  • Gorab Jain
    2019-03-15 13:36

    Having loved the movie and recommendations from my friends helped to pick up this book. Inspiring story of one man rising against racism, becoming an ideal teacher and role model against a very harsh backdrop, moulding many lives to bring about positive changes in the society around him.More than imparting knowledge on the subject matter, Mr Braithwaite becomes the guiding light for imparting moral conduct and judgement, which becomes more pivotal in the overall growth of a student. Every school should have at least one such teacher focusing not solely on the course material and syllabus.A short and sweet heart warming read.

  • Penny
    2019-03-16 06:36

    I re-read this recently and found much of it dated and strangely prejudiced!!! One shouldnt impose today's morals on the past - perhaps!!This is a well known and inspiring account of a West Indian young man who comes to England following WW2 to work as a teacher. He had tried to get other work but no one would employ him due to his colour. He gets a job in a forward thinking but struggling East End secondary school where the kids are violent and lacking ambition. He gradually earns their respect and he respects them. This side of the book was as I remembered - touching and informative of the racism that existed (exists?) in London as that time.However, in this reading I stumbled again and again with the author's depiction of women and the teenage girls in his class. Whilst we get a wide range of characters and physical descriptions many were unnecessarily sexual - ie 'huge-breasted bovine women', 2 pages on we have another description of 'prominent breasts' , next page 'beautiful and full-figured' further on we have 'breasts straining against sweaters'. While the book is a wonderful diatribe against racisim - it doesnt read so well in its persistently sexual view of women. I wonder if I am being unduely harsh on a book that was written in 1959 ( same year roughly as Call the Midwife) and there are clever, capable and greatly respected women teachers in the book - and yet it is the actual prose that causes me problems, repeatedly selecting subtle sexist phrases that I could have done without.

  • Velvetink
    2019-02-24 13:36

    The nun's at my high school thought our class incorrigible. They hoped this book would save us, (well in combination with the movie) starring Sidney Poitier as Thackeray and Lulu as Barbara "Babs" Pegg and the film's title song "To Sir, with Love", sung by Lulu, - it did save quite a few of us. Some of us still read books! Only those who passed the English exam (included an essay on the book) were allowed the excursion to see the film.

  • Jeannie
    2019-02-19 14:45

    I read this book many years ago for a unit I was assigned to teach my eighth grade classes during my student teaching experience. We watched the movie at the end of the unit. The book was much better. It inspired me to work hard to be the best teacher that I possibly could become. Maybe it spoke to me so clearly because this book isn't really about the methods--it's more about the heart behind the methods. It really isn't so much about academics either. Braithwaite's focus is on the moral and social education that leads to success in all areas, including academics. It's interesting that I ended up in a school full of outcasts similar to the ones in this school. I drew on the lessons taught in this book more than once. In addition to being a book that every teacher who aspires to change lives should read, it's just a great story. I remember reading it as I walked down the sidewalks of Provo toward class because I just couldn't put it down. Just thinking about this book brings back clear memories of early fall in the Utah Valley--I can almost feel the fall air and the cool soft grass as I sat reading in my front yard on the corner of 2nd North and 2nd East. In stark contrast, the images of the not so crisp and clean inner city where this story takes place are just as clear. And, of course, Lulu's hit song "To Sir, With Love" instantly takes me back to the entire time period that this book was a part of. Reading and teaching this amazing book made that great semester even better than it already was.

  • Shamidha Hameed
    2019-03-15 12:36

    Wonderful! Having worked as a teacher in an elementary school and as a trainer in a professional course college, I have had some experience with students aged 7-25. Whatever their age, I have felt that if the teacher shows them respect and love, the students reciprocate the same in double the measure!This book reminded me of my days as a teacher in a school in the Middle East where people are generally branded as arrogant and bossy. But I realized that when you get to know those people and their wards, they are actually very beautiful human beings. Though I am on a self-imposed break from work, this book has instilled second thoughts in my mind about recommencing work as a teacher.

  • Paul Lothane
    2019-03-11 14:00

    How apposite that I would re-read this book again after hearing that the revered old man, Braithwaite (the author) is dead, one of the world's most famous centenarians. This book is very well-written as the world knows, with lots of fine descriptions, allusions, and the work for decades has always added to one's vocabulary. For us Africans, however, Braithwaite always apparently lacked a sense of humour, which ironically is often associated with his race, even those who've been oppressed and suppressed overwhelmingly. In his writings he often comes across as rather strict and censorious, lacking a lot of fun, fluency and flamboyance. From the intellectual, and from the prism of integrity, he would of course always rate very high, but it might be a bit difficult to warm to him as a fellow "Black brother"...but this book will always remain an early classic penned by a Black man, making the world decades ago to be aware of stuff like prejudices, predilections, and frustrations of race. And there is humour too, but alas it often comes from the other characters, teachers (up Weston!) and young pupils alike...

  • Celia
    2019-02-24 12:38

    One of my reading goals this year is to read at least 1 book written by significant authors who died in 2016. This is the sixth book I have read this year.Once again, I have found an author of significant worth, but unknown to me.Most who read this will be familiar with the movie of same name starring Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackery. Thackery is actually the pseudonym for Braithwaite. This is, in fact, an autobiography.Very well written in what I have come to recognize as the British style, it is an entertaining and sympathetic treatise.Any teacher will appreciate the successes realized by Braithwaite's unique teaching style. These kids were brought up in a rough part of Soho and their initial reaction to their Negro teacher (this was written in 1959 so Braithwaite does call himself a Negro) mirrors their rough environment.But by the end of the term, due to Braithwaite's approach that treats them as adults, they are polite, charming and grateful.Their last presentment to him, in a nicely wrapped parcel, is embossed To Sir, With Love. I can just hear Lulu singing it now.

  • Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
    2019-03-18 11:54

    I first saw the film with Sidney Poitier that was made from this book. The film was OK, if a bit sentimentalised, and may have started the trend of "wonderful teacher" books and films, which I usually avoid, particularly if they are written by the teacher in question, or ghostwritten for him or her.This book is a case in point. Even considering the writing style at the time of publication, I found Braithwaite's prose to be pompous and self-congratulatory in the extreme. He was teaching final year working-class students in London's East End at a time when it was common to terminate schooling at the age of 14-16 and immediately join the work force; one moment he is underscoring how important his own contribution to their future is (almost describing it as a last-ditch effort to "civilize" these urban barbarians!), the next he repeatedly refers to them as "children". One minute he's describing how mature his students are (girls as well as boys--we get quite a lot of detail about how ripe the girls are) and the next he's describing how one of his older students breaks down after announcing his mother's death and weeps "like the little boy he was." He was aware that it was not at all unusual for sixteen year olds in that milieu to marry and form families of their own, and yet he can't resist talking down to them in his descriptions of their lives. Nice man.We are told that during Braithwaite's time in the RAF during the war, he experienced no discrimination based on his colour or background, which I also find hard to believe. He tells his angry students that he too has been "pushed around", but we are led to believe from the text that it only happened when he tried to get an industrial position or rent a room in England after the war. And yet he is blissfully unaware of his own condescending language when talking about how proud "these cockneys" are, how different they are from some sort of norm...contagious, isn't it, Sir?I believe I read this book once before, many years ago, but I wonder if I finished it. I'm having a hard time doing so now. I can't say I recommend it, unless arrogance is your cuppa.

  • Kandice
    2019-03-01 11:54

    This is the second time I've read this book and you would think that after the first time I wouldn't be surprised by the differences between the movie and the book. I'm not saying the movie is better, I'm just saying it sets a very, very different tone than the book.Ricky Braithwaite is a young, black man trying to make a living in Britain. It's the 60's and prejudice is behind the British Empire. Ha! Not so much.When he can't find a job in his field he tries for a teaching position at a progressively disciplined school in the slums. The kids are lucky to be able to go to school at all, they have a hard enough time finding water to wash, much less a time and a place to do homework.Ricky takes over the oldest class, about 8 months before they are set to graduate. None of them have any aspirations of further education. They know they must begin earning and contributing as soon as their time in school is over. Most will work in the same factories, shops, refineries that their parents work in now.Ricky slowly teaches these young people that a low station in life is no reason not to show respect to others. That the color of a man (or woman's) skin does not speak for him. That we can all live with dignity and pride regardless of where we live or how many of us live in our small homes. He does all of this because he is a decent human being who grows to care for these youngsters. He has no teaching experience and yet the class he sets free into the world are more prepared to live their lives than countless graduating classes before them.Braithwaite speaks of racial indignities and injustices quite a bit, and I understood that lesson, but felt it carried more weight when delivered alongside the prejudice these teens faced due to their poverty and neighborhoods. Inequality is inequality regardless of the reason and "Sir" taught that lesson in spades.

  • Rishi Prakash
    2019-03-19 13:52

    This is one of those books which was always on the reading list but somehow could not get my hands on it! Glad the new year started with this book :) E R Braithwaite’s autobiographical nove is based on his own experience as a black teacher in a tough East End secondary modern school, gives a remarkable insight into the politics of class and race in postwar London in 1950's and the struggle of a well educated and qualified ex-air force guy to settle in England . This fine and heart touching portrait of a post-war English working-class community coming face to face with a decidedly atypical West Indian man( our author), has much to tell us about that era with all soft of prejudice based on race and class. I went and searched about the author and found that his life slowly changed after his stint in the school and the publication of this book as he left teaching and pursued a successful career as a social worker and then a diplomat. He wrote few more books but will always be remembered for this book which shook the entire nation. A must read.

  • Shelby Hanson
    2019-03-03 10:42

    This book is about a black man that can't find a good job, so he has to be a teacher because of his skin color. This story is set in Greenslade Secondary School in the east London disrict.This black man in E.R. Braithwaite and he is the author of this book. The school he works in is in a rough neighborhood and his class is less than disiplined. So throughout the book the realtionships with Braitwaite and his students grow more and more through respect and guidance; that includes overcoming racism and diversity.I gave this book three stars because of it's hard hitting look into reality and how one person persued through their satbacks in order to make a real difference in other peoples' lives. I really liked this book for it's heated topics, like racism, and it makes me think/wonder if us Americans are that disrespectful, rude, and crude. It was a wonderful book to read.

  • Purvi Petal
    2019-02-16 14:41

    One of the most remarkable and impacting books I read first as a student in class VIII and then as a teacher in two Co-Ed schools. The issues covered in the book are real to date and so very poignantly relevant, I relate to it all the more strongly as a woman teacher having to deal with almost the same issues and more on a regular basis. As per my understanding, the book needs to be introduced as part of syllabus for middle school learners as the book deals effectively, 'with love', the fundamental reasons for the directionlessness in the present day students and manages to core out these by walking through the heart.

  • Erin
    2019-02-25 08:54

    Received as part of the holiday book exchange that I entered through my friend Kathy Lawson, along with a lovely note, "Hope you enjoy! I understand you're an avid reader so I looked for one of my favorites off the beaten path. Praying you've neither read it nor seen the movie! Best wishes, Catherine" Well, I've neither seen the movie nor read the book, so I'm excited about this one! Thanks, Catherine!

  • Laura
    2019-03-15 09:52

    Excellent piece of work, better than the movie.

  • Vincent Ho
    2019-03-15 06:42

    Read this in my 8th Grade. Is still the writing style and the way of delivering the message I compare when reading other books.

  • Jaanaki
    2019-03-12 07:42

    So. this was sitting on my list for a very ,very long time and finally one of my Instagram contacts posted about this book and being a teacher myself,I knew I had to get this and read it immediately:) .The narrative is pretty straightforward .It is the memoir of E.R.Braithwaite who has recounted his experiences as a teacher in an East End London school at the end of the war.However ,this slim little book is much more than that .Braithwaite is a powerful writer and his writing is honest ,clear and precise just like the man himself .He does not mince words when it comes to describing situations ,emotions ,behavior, injustice and some of us (I did anyway!!) might even get offended with his physical descriptions of people.I think it is outstanding for two reasons.This is probably one of the earliest books where the author talks honestly about the prevalent racism in Britain after the war.He.discusses the fact that he was rejected jobs even though he was highly qualified just because of his skin color. E.R.Braithwaite has dissected and analyzed the British psyche and attitude towards color in a manner that will put any research scholar in civil-rights to shame . The way he describes how racism is subtly practiced can be felt in these lines :"In Britain I found things to be very different. I have yet to meet a single English person who has actually admitted to anti-negro prejudice. It is even generally believe that no such thing exists here. A negro is free to board any bus or train and sit anywhere, provided he has paid the appropriate fare. The fact that many people might pointedly avoid sitting near to him is casually overlooked. He is free to seek accommodation in any licensed hotel or boarding house - the courteous refusal which frequently follows is never ascribed to prejudice. The betrayal I now felt was greater because it had been perpetuated with the greatest of charm and courtesy .”One of my favorites lines was when he clearly says ,"There is a difference between being British and a Briton ". The second is that all teachers who want their students to respect and adore them should read this book at least once in their lifetime .The book is about how he gains the respect and love of kids who ignore him in the beginning.Many people think that teaching is very easy profession .In truth , it is one of the toughest jobs around and gaining the confidence and trust of adolescents can be nerve wrecking at times .In the end ,Braithwraite reiterates what I have always believed in - that to be a teacher who inspires and is always remembered means having tons of patience,shedding your prejudices ,ego and learning to respect your students no matter their backgrounds and status and in return they will always love you and remember you ❤️All in all a five star read

  • VaultOfBooks
    2019-02-19 10:53

    By E. R. Braithwaite. Grade AI had never heard of this book until I read an excerpt from it last year. The excerpt was half a chapter of the book which was in our Functional English syllabus for the second terminal exams in Eleventh Standard. I found the excerpt very, very intriguing and that day I decided that I am going to read this book for sure.The modern classic about a dedicated teacher in a tough London school who slowly and painfully breaks down the barriers of racial prejudice. It is the story of a man’s own integrity winning through against the odds. When a woman refuses to sit next to him on the bus, Rick Braithwaite is saddened and angered by her prejudice. In post-war cosmopolitan London he had hoped for a more enlightened attitude. When he begins his first teaching job in a tough East End school the reactions are the same. Slowly and painfully some of the barriers are broken down. He shames his pupils, wrestles with them, enlightens them and eventually comes to love them. To Sir, With Love is the story of a dedicated teacher who turns hate into love, teenage rebelliousness into self-respect, contempt into consideration for others.When I read the excerpt last year, I had a different idea about the book. I thought that it was a book about a teacher who has been wound up completely by a bunch of crooks and rogues who’re his students. But when I read the book, it was an entirely different story.Set in the 1940’s, it traces the journey of a black man named Braithwaite who has suffered a lot due to the color of his skin. In London, it is hard for him to earn a living because he is either said to be too qualified for the job or too ‘black’ to be bossing the whites in the offices. Finally Braithwaite meets an old man sitting in St. James Park in London who gives him a piece of advice that as Braithwaite says ‘…changed the whole course of my life’.I liked the line said by the old man to Braithwaite to raise his spirits and it will be one of my favorite quotes I have ever read.“A big city cannot have its attention distracted from the important job of being a big city by such a tiny, unimportant item as your happiness or mine…. A great city is a battle field. You need to be a fighter to live in it, not exist, mark you, live. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul behind him like a worn out coat; but living is different. It can be hard, but it can also be fun; there’s so much going on all the time that is new and exciting…”Reading the book, I could relate to each and every character of the book. Being a student, I related to the students at the Greenslade School. Knowing that I might have to teach at some point of my life, I could very easily relate to Mr. E. R. Braithwaite. It is not just these. All the characters from Gillian to Pamela Dare’s mother seemed so close to me.Although it is an autobiographical account, you would at no point get bored while reading it, even if you’re just a fiction lover. Braithwaite successfully reaches the heart of his readers writing with the skills of a novelist.The book is mainly a school drama but the main point of the book, racism, is no where neglected. It clearly shows the plight of the colored people living in the white majority societies. It goes way beyond your history books that tell you the blacks were looked down upon. It makes you live the life of a black man himself.The language used in the book is absolutely marvelous. But the ones who are not regular readers of modern classics might find it a little difficult to get the hang of it easily. It primarily uses the language in a way that is a British dialect of East End Londoners.And talking of language, the students at Greenslade live in slums and have a very bad mouth. The way Braithwaite quotes the slang is as if you are yourself sitting in front of them, hearing them swear. A beautiful thing about the book is that Braithwaite has no where used the F word in his entire book although you do come to know when the students say it.He quotes the sentences like “Bastard. You f__ing bloody Bastard.” And “If I’d had the wood I’d have done the f__er in and no bleeding body would have stopped me.” There are a lot of examples like this in the book.There’s nothing about the book that I disliked particularly except that at some points it has a lot of narrative summary and no dialogues in two or so pages together. But this being an autobiographical account, we can’t expect dialogues after every paragraph.A fantastic book meant for the ones who teach or aspire to teach sometime in their life. If you like school dramas, go for To Sir, With Love and you too will fall in love with this Sir.Originally reviewed at:

  • Anu Lal
    2019-03-13 12:51

    TO SIR WITH LOVE by E. R. BRAITHWAITE: A ReviewThe Commentator says;The previous year, a friend of mine spoke about this book. It was during her farewell party. We both worked at the same college. She spoke of her time at the college, the struggles and fun she had as a teacher. Then she said this book reflected her being in an unspeakable ingenuity that was unbeknownst to her before. I decided right then that I’d get my hands on this book when the next door of opportunity shows itself. To Sir, with Love tells the story of Mr. Braithwaite. It’s an autobiographical novel. This novel offers a classroom drama with an amalgam of varied themes such as racism, love, personal empowerment, religion, God, etc. The classroom setting offers a fertile ground for the rest of the discussion. This gives the novelist the best device to explore the many layers of these themes and their varied implications. The Indian Commentator loved the craftsmanship of E R Braithwaite. But Commentator is also aware that this is not a work of fiction. Perhaps, you might call this book a nonfiction novel… you know… like Capote did with his book In Cold Blood. Often the Commentator felt that the author is rather conservative in his attitude. However, his strategies seem to instill in teachers who read this book a set of solutions for their own classrooms. This part, I think, is the best angle to view the book. Yes, To Sir, with Love is also a self-help book. I mean, you can read it that way too. You can also read To Sir, with Love as a passionate story of a man’s journey towards his conquering his own inner conflicts. To Sir, with Love has visual quality. The Commentator hadn’t watched the movie adaptation of this novel yet. But the scenes were, nevertheless, being played out in my mind. Braithwaite, the protagonist, the black teacher who joins Greenslade School, a secondary school in London's East End finds his journey as a teacher transformative. It is interesting how a classroom could be transformative and crucial for both the teacher and students. The cliché, normally, places the students on the receiving end of this transformative arch. To Sir, with Love is a relevant example for students of this generation to experience what it means to be in the shoes of the person who teaches them in the classroom. At least, they must realize that teachers, too, are human beings and have emotions and responsibilities at the same time. Perhaps, those who are teachers among the readers could comment on this issue better. The Commentator leaves this space for them to comment upon. E R Braithwaite demonstrates that the menace of racism has both the perpetrator and the victim encamped. Within the territory of racist world view, the victim’s mentality is equally corrupted as the perpetrator’s attitude. The lively space of the novel provides ample scope for exploring the subtle tones of European version of racism. Braithwaite comments that in Britain racism is more subtle than in the US. In the US, racism is more open and direct. He considers this an advantage of the US society. Originally an engineer in the army, Braithwaite searches for jobs after his service in the army. However, he fails to pitch himself for a good job. Once the hope of getting a job in Britain for a black man evaporates, Braithwaite applies for a teaching job. Another aspect of this novel is its handling of the teacher character. No attempt to idealize the motive of the protagonist sets it apart. What the protagonist does in favor of his class is the direct and rather pragmatic solution for keeping his hard-earned job for some more time. There is no ideal teacher. There is only a man trying to hold on during worst-looking times.The commentator thinks that To Sir, with Love could make an excellent Malayalam movie. The reality and human interactions portrayed in this movie are very much relevant in today’s Kerala. To Sir, with Love is highly recommended. Details:To Sir, with Love: E R BraithwaiteFirst published: 1959Publisher: The Bodley HeadMovie Adaptations: To Sir, with Love (1967)To Sir, With Love also won Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

  • Lori L (She Treads Softly)
    2019-03-05 08:53

    To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite has been recently re-released by Open Road Media and is highly recommended for the intelligent narrative as well as the historical perspective on racism.Originally written in 1959 and set in the post WWII tough East End of London, To Sir, With Love is a nonfiction account of a well-educated 28 year old man from Guyana who stumbles upon his teaching career by accident when he cannot find another job due to his skin color. Braithwaite accepts the teaching position, but makes it clear that he "did not become a teacher out of any sense of vocation; mine was no considered decision in the interests of youthful humanity or the spread of planned education. It was a decision forced on me by the very urgent need to eat; it was a decision brought about by a chain of unhappy experiences which began about a week after my demobilization from the Royal Air Force in 1945." (Location 448)After being jobless for 18 months, "Disillusionment had given place to a deepening, poisoning hatred; slowly but surely I was hating these people who could so casually, so unfeelingly deny me the right to earn a living. I was considered too well educated, too good for the lowly jobs, and too black for anything better."(Location 607)He finds himself at Greenslade Secondary School in charge of 40 students. His initial encounter with the students is not what he expected: "I felt shocked by the encounter. My vision of teaching in a school was one of straight rows of desks, and neat, well-mannered, obedient children. The room I had just left seemed like a menagerie.... Was it the accepted thing here? Would I have to accept it too? "(Location 161)The majority of the children could be generally classified as difficult with a disregard for authority. They are poorly fed, clothed and housed. They face a multitude of difficulties in an environment that is lacking in every way, however, as Braithwaite points out, they are, as a majority, white. He has faced numerous difficulties and hurdles based on his skin color. Certainly these children can be taught to overcome their limitations.Braithwaite is very blunt and, well, insulting, in some of his descriptions and this is especially noticeable at the beginning of the book. For all his difficulties endured due to racism, clearly sexism was also a prevalent part of the times. I had to take into consideration the time in which it was originally written and place it in a historical context.If you have seen the movie, it is impossible to read the book To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite without picturing Sidney Poitier and hearing the song sung by Lulu.While there are many similarities, there are many differences too. The book is set in the late 1940s while the movie, released in 1967, changed the setting to the 60's. The book also deals openly with questions of race and the overt prejudice Braithwaite felt in Great Britain. The timeline for some events in the book is changed around for the movie. In comparison to the sombrer tone of the book, the movie feels light-hearted.Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Open Road Media via Netgalley for review purposes.

  • Joy Sorensen
    2019-03-08 07:57

    First and foremost, I was so excited when I actually won a book from Goodreads. It felt like my lucky day, especially since it was one I have wanted to read for years. Sadly, after winning it in September I started a full time job and my reading time diminished. It was my first "to-read in 2017" goal and I finished it quickly. Having loved this movie all of my life, I found myself reading the book through the voice of Sidney Poitier, and it was delightful. I like the back history of his military service, which wasn't really focused on in the movie, but my heart always belongs to how he took these kids from tough backgrounds and invested in their education. It wasn't always easy, but along the way he gained their respect and increased their desire not only to learn, but to improve how they would affect society. I'm glad I got to read this book. I still think I love the movie a bit more, but even reading the book reminded me of how much "Sir" changed their lives. They really did love him, and that is a rare and beautiful gift between teacher and student. I'm not even ashamed to admit that I did start singing that famous song at the end of the book. Here you go. Sing along. "Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are goneBut in my mindI know they will still live on and onBut how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?It isn't easy, but I'll tryIf you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,That would soar a thousand feet high,To Sir, with LoveThe time has comeFor closing books and long last looks must endAnd as I leaveI know that I am leaving my best friendA friend who taught me right from wrongAnd weak from strongThat's a lot to learnWhat, what can I give you in return?If you wanted the moon I would try to make a startBut I, would rather you let me give my heartTo Sir, with Love"