Teenage Destiny

Many teacher movies are variations on a formula: difficult kids plus an understanding teacher equals transformed lives. Movies usually make it look far easier than this really is. But in To Sir, With Love, teacher Mark Thackeray, played by Sydney Poitier, resonates with lots of secondary teachers. His students are rude, incorrigible, and the boys challenge him to a boxing match. Every student presents individual challenges of poverty and miseducation.

Real teaching feels like this. No mattered how battered or exhausted we feel, our job is to educate children for a future we know nothing about. We help shape our students’ destiny and it’s tough work. Like parents, we do a difficult job day in and day out. We encourage, plead, threaten, laugh, fume, and stick by them because we see so much promise.

To Sir, With Love may appear dated, but it’s not. Mark Thackeray decided to leave teaching and take an engineering job offer. Take a look at the ending and enjoy Lulu’s singing.



2 thoughts on “Teenage Destiny

  1. In the early morning and then again in the afternoon and one more time in the early evening, I drive a school bus. Three schools, all low income to some extent. The upside is that this fits around my other work. I get to see at least some of our future on the elementary bus rides. It’s not encouraging. I really hope that bus behavior is no where close to classroom behavior. What comes through for me more than anything else is the impact parents and home have on kids. As a somewhat conservative purplish political person, this year of bus driving is clearly showing me that contrary to what various politicians would have us believe, success and failure rest firmly on parents and what goes on at home. Schools and teachers are largely playing with the hand they are dealt. The money I see being spent in schools on case workers and individual attention is breathtaking and heart breaking. At times I am left wondering how any teaching time is left for the few normally functioning kids, once all the effort has been exerted to manage and care for the exceptions.
    Fingers crossed for the future!


    1. Jeff, bus drivers are heroes. When I was principal in one school, the bus drivers knew they had my support because I’d follow through with consequences, including a call home or suspension of bus privileges. Districts differ in their policies, but almost every parent wants to hear from the school/teacher/principal when their child misbehaves. We’re all in this together!


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