Purpose – This paper seeks to examine ways in which the film To Sir with Love illustrates several longstanding issues and tensions related to the sociology of education. It is also aims to show how this film (and, by implication, other popular films) can be used to advance understanding among students of educational leadership, organization theory, and the sociology of education. Design/methodology/approach – Approaching its 40th anniversary, To Sir with Love is generally considered to be a classic portrayal of a teacher's struggle to engage a group of disengaged and rebellious students in a working class London school. Yet the film also highlights longstanding issues and tensions peculiar to schooling and teaching. From sociological and social‐psychological perspectives, this paper examines this film's underlying meanings and suggests how it can be used to advance understanding among students of educational leadership, organization theory, and the sociology of education. Findings – Although the paper focuses on teacher‐student‐peer social interaction, it largely leaves issues of race and class for others to address. Practical implications – Implicitly and explicitly, the paper highlights the value of using popular film to promote understanding of problems related to educational policy and leadership. Originality/value – A lively discussion, an attempt to construct (rather than deconstruct) new meanings from a classic text.
Journal of Educational Administration – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 1, 2005
Keywords: Teaching; Film; Organizational behaviour; Educational institutions; Ethics
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