Introduction

This chapter is taken from the autobiographical novel of the author E. R. Braithwaite. It details the events of one day during his career as a schoolteacher at Greenslade School. The author narrates the proceedings of the half-yearly report of the Students’ Council. 

The Half-yearly Report

The narrator describes the day when the class representatives of each class present reports to the faculty about what they have studied in class till that day. After a long address by the headmaster Mr Florian, the meeting begins. It is presided over by two students of the narrator’s class, namely Miss Joseph and Denham.

The representatives of the junior most class present their reports first and then the higher classes take their turns. A panel of teachers is chosen by picking chits with the names of the teachers. This panel answers the questions and doubts of the students at the end of the meeting. 

Report of the Lower Classes

Mr Braithwaite is the teacher of the senior most class, so he looks forward to his class’s turn which comes at the last. As the session begins, the representatives of the lower classes present brief reports. The narrator observes that these young students are shy and nervous due to no prior experience of such meetings. He notices a marked improvement in the reports as higher classes take their turns. 

Finally, the turn of Mr Braithwaite’s class arrives and Miss Joseph and Denham announce the names of the class representatives for each subject. The narrator is filled with pride as he sees Denham addressing each senior girl with the term ‘Miss’, something his students have learnt from their teacher. All representatives take their seats with business-like mannerism and seriousness of purpose. 

Half-yearly Report of the Narrator’s Class

Miss Joseph reports what they have studied in their Domestic Science class. She reports that these classes have taught them that human beings are interdependent on each other, irrespective of differences like colour, races and creeds. Potter then presents his report for Arithmetic and he also observes that though there are different units of measurement throughout the world, the methods used are quite similar.

While presenting report on the subject of Nature Study, Sapiano talks about their study of pests and he, too, observes that each country has benefitted by the shared knowledge of many countries. While giving a report for Geography, Miss Pegg and Jackson stress on the value of interchange and interdependence among the various countries.

For the Physiology report, Fernman makes arrangement for a skeleton to be displayed on stage. Through the skeleton, Fernman makes his point that nothing can be said about the nationality or race of the person whose skeleton is displayed. This again shows that all humans are similar, with some minor differences.

Miss Dodd presents her report for History classes by talking about their lessons on Reformation in England. She emphasizes on how this period brought forth the idea of tolerance for other’s cultures. Denham presents report on the PT and games class at last. He criticises the PT class for being ineffective and the boys of his class express their support for this opinion. 

End of the Meeting

After all the reports, a panel of teachers including Mr. Weston, Mrs. Dale-Evans and Miss Phillips Denham address the questions and doubts that have been raised through the students’ reports. Miss Phillips is especially successful in dealing with the various queries. She also successfully manages to give prompt responses to Denham’s criticism of PT classes. 

Conclusion

The meeting of the day ends with a conclusive speech by the Headmaster. The students of the narrator’s class have displayed great sincerity of effort and commitment in their reports. Mr Braithwaite is filled with pride because all his students have understood the value of interdependence of human beings and the need of international and interracial cooperation.