Writings and thoughts in a notepad

( Film: To Sir, with Love )

Those notes following below are the notes written by a language teacher. The writings in a notepad were based on his experience at teaching English to kids. I have taken this book at least twice in my hands and I wouldn´t dare say that it has been the last time. There are lots of interesting conclusions on the work of teaching and the experience of communication, learning and understanding teenagers. But the issue goes further. It is the footprint that a relationship of authority, friendship or whatever the scheme should be makes into the teacher himself. I think this diary is hard to read for any teacher. It is also an uneasy book in which a teacher sees the most unkind side of teaching.

From the very beginning of Joachim Appel´s diary a headteacher warns him not try to be the children´s friend.


“19th August- A new pupil-

First lesson in grade 10. What a difference! They burst out laughing when they saw me. They thought I was a new pupil. I didn´t stand a chance. Their boisterous welcome had intimidated me

31st August-As long as it isn´t grammar-

They say they hate grammar. Anything, as long as it isn´t grammar.

9th December –I want to work with my friends-

Today I tell grade 6 to work in groups of four. They are to read a piece of dialogue in groups and then act it out in front of the class. Hardly have I said they are to work in groups (each group corresponding to one row of seats) than pandemonium breaks out.

20th December-What a fool-

I am still used to measuring my success as a teacher in terms of the silence I am able to produce. “

(Joachim Appel, Diary of a Language Teacher. Heinemann- Oxford, 1995)

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