Saturday, 6 September 2014

To Sir With Love - E.R. Braithwaite

In 1945, Rick Braithwaite, a smart, highly educated ex-RAF pilot, looks for a job in British engineering. He is deeply shocked to realise that, as a black man from British Guiana, no one will employ him because of the colour of his skin. In desperation he turns to teaching, taking a job in a tough East End school and left to govern a class of unruly teenagers. With no experience or guidance. Braithwaite attemts to instill discipline, confound prejudice and ultimately to teach.

Published by: Vintage Classics - Memoir
Year: originally 1959
Pages: 208
ISBN: 0099483696

'To Sir With Love' is my return to school read for September.  I can't remember what age I was when I first read this book by E.R. Braithwaite.  He did go on to write other memoirs but this is his most memorable.  Like many of us I have seen the film starring Sidney Poitier many times and it still makes me cry. Having not read the book since school I had completely forgotten that the true story is actually about an English East End school called Greenslade.   Braithwaite had been demobbed from the RAF and had spent 18 months looking for work as an engineer without success.  He encountered prejudice being invited to countless interviews but as soon as they saw the colour of his skin every excuse would be given as to why he was not suitable for the post.  Then someone suggested he look into teaching and he was soon employed in his first post.  He achieved great things with this first class of students, teaching them self confidence and respect for others.

When Braithwaite left Greenslade to be a social worker his class gave him a gift and on the card were written the words 'To Sir With Love'  and this he chose to be the title of his now famous book.

If you have never read this memoir it is well worth  taking the time.

Happy reading one & all.


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