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To Sir With Love


by E.R. Braithewaite
In the novel, "To Sir With Love", various human
characteristics are portrayed. Of these, the idea that
humans are able to adapt and change their way of thinking
seems to be demonstrated throughout the story. In the
novel, both the teacher, Braithewaite, and his students end
up going through many changes that ultimately result in
their coming to change their way of thinking about each
other. In life, as in this fictionalized account, the
ability to adapt to the world around one's self is a very
important trait. In my own life, this has occurred on many

In the story, Braithewaite begins with a set of
preconceived ideas about his students. He expects them to
be unintelligent, rough, racially intolerant children with
no future-hardly deserving of his respect. But, as he sees
later, they are are the total opposites of his initial
ideas. This is gradually shown through their actions, such
as the students all going to visit the house of their black
friend during his crisis, or their learning to treat each
other with respect. They learned to address each other by
their last names, in the case of the boys, and "Miss", for
the girls. They also learned to respect and really learn
from their teacher, something they had never cared to do
Braithewaite helped them to break out of the the pattern of
intolerance and roughness into which society had placed
them. They began to respect themselves and then to respect
others. In short, it was obvious that both the teacher and
his students were able to change their way of thinking;
they did not get stuck in their original set of
preconceived notions about each other. This is a key point
of the novel; this idea that people can change their ways.
In my own experiences, I have ended up changing my ways as
I have become wiser. One example would be my relationship
with my older sister. As a child, I constantly fought with
her over everything and never tried to get to understand
her. Gradually, though, as I grew older, I learned to
accept and to understand her. Now, even though we still
argue about a lot of things, I feel my relationship with
her has improved and I am beginning to understand her. ;I
now look at her as being a nice person with much to offer
me, rather than as my evil sister. This has been a true
example of my being able to change my way of thinking about
another individual. 

The concept of man being able to alter his ways is a
crucial element to his living in a society such as ours.
All of us must learn to accept individual hardships, and
all of us must be able to adapt to our ever-changing world.
World leaders must adjust their way of thinking about an
evolving third world country, or a growing superpower. An
employee must adapt to be able to perform his job
adequately. All of us have had to gradually adapt in order
to live together as a relatively cohesive, well ordered
society. It is clear that nothing remains constant in our
world of change except change itself. It is our ability to
learn and to adapt our ways that has brought humans as far
forward as they are today. As a species, we have gone from
living as naked savages to relatively living as relatively
civilized individuals. This would never have been possible
had it not been for our ability to change our ways of
thinking. For humans, then, it is our ability to change
that has put us where we are today and is our key to
further advancement, both as societies and as people. 



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