Warning: there are spoilers in this post. If you plan to watch this movie and don’t want to know what happens, stop reading at the break.
I watched To Sir, With Love last night, the movie starring Sidney Poitier. I had gotten it from Netflix a couple of months ago, and finally got around to watching it. It is a teacher movie, like Stand and Deliver or Dangerous Minds, in which an inexperienced teacher is put in a classroom with a group of ne’er-do-wells.
In Stand and Deliver, Edward James Olmos stars as the man who teaches math to hispanic kids in LA. Ultimately, he teaches them calculus. In Dangerous Minds, Michelle Pfeiffer stars as an ex-marine who teaches English to tough kids. Both are based on true stories.
In To Sir, With Love, Sidney Poitier is an engineer, and he doesn’t teach any particular school subject to his kids. He promises himself he will not lose his temper with the kids, but their shenanigans get to him. If there is one thing kids don’t need to be taught, it is how to push an adult’s buttons! That, I have experience with. My personal strategy is not to have any buttons, but sometimes they pop up unexpectedly.After losing his temper, Poitier’s character decides to teach the kids how to be adults, and he respects them. He insists that they call him Sir. I love that lesson. Respecting students is one of the earliest lessons I learned as a teacher. When you respect them, they respect you. If students respect you, they will do as you ask.
He talks with the kids about how to choose a husband or wife, how to cook, how to treat each other. The kids take it to heart, and they take Sir into their hearts. When Sir finally gets an acceptance letter for an engineering job, he is elated. But at the end, he does the unexpected. Sir takes the letter and tears it up. Awwww. I never had that other job offer, but I sure am glad I stayed in teaching.