If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it! It’s a must see for anyone in education, but it’s a powerful film for all audiences. It was one of my father’s favorite films and he tried several times to convince me to watch it with him. Sadly, I never saw the film until after my dad passed away and I found the film in his movie collection. Well, my dad was right in saying that I would like the movie.
Having recently watched it again, I found so many takeaways from the film for educators. Sidney Poitier brings so many noble characteristics to the part; mainly courage, consistency, and compassion. He shows his courage not by walking into the tough classroom he inherits, but by walking back into it day after day. He never gives up on his students or himself. That leads right into the second trait of consistency. He is consistently in control of himself, he consistently treats everyone with respect (and expects the same in return) and displays the same professional and caring demeanor day after day. He knows he may be the only consistent person in his students’ lives. Finally, he shows compassion. Compassion for the student who loses a parent, compassion for the boys and girls who don’t know how to behave like young men and woman, and compassion for those who are rude and intolerant of him. His compassion is what wins over his students in the end (and even some of the cynical staff members). My favorite line is from the reformed cynical teacher who states, “Anyone can be an engineer. It takes someone special to teach these kids.” Notice how this teacher has learned to take pride in himself (his dress, his language, his demeanor) from Sir. His courage, consistency, and compassion are contagious to ALL those around him!
I could go on and on about this movie, but it’s one of those things that is best experienced on your own. After watching it again, I think to myself, am I setting that high standard for myself and for our school? I think yes, but it’s good to have that reminder from time to time of the impact we have on our students’ lives. It’s also good to stop and think about the message we are consistently sending to our students. Let’s make it a positive message and one that is straight from the heart, just like Sir!
(from the novel by E.R. Braithwraite)
“So long as we learn it doesn’t matter who teaches us, does it?”
“Every teacher should have a fund of ready information on which to draw; he should keep that fund supplied regularly by new experiences, new thoughts and discoveries, by reading and moving around among people from whom he can acquire such things.”
“He was wonderfully patient with me, much more so than I deserved.”