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How does Willy Russell present differences between Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay

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How does Willy Russell present differences between Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay in "Our day Out"? Willy Russell contrasts two teachers in the play "Our Day Out" in order to present different teaching attitudes. The play is set in 1970's Liverpool, which was poverty-stricken and had high levels of unemployment. By having this setting Russell gives the teachers difficult children to teach and the play seems to test who will deal with the children best. Russell doesn't make either of the teachers perfect but exposes their true feelings to show what attributes a good teacher should have. Mr Briggs is strict but willing to teach whereas Mrs Kay is fun and sympathetic but has lost hope in teaching the students. In my opinion Russell seems more approving of Mr Briggs, especially by the end of the play. Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs have very different relationships and attitudes to the children in the Progress Class. The differences are between the teachers are revealed through the handling of and treatment of the children. They have different characteristics but neither of them can be said to be entirely positive or negative in the eyes of the audience and also the children. Mrs Kay is relaxed and gentle with children whereas Mr Briggs is far stricter and more demanding of the Progress Class. This is apparent as soon as the play starts so the audience admire Mrs Kay over Mr Briggs at the beginning. ...read more.


He says that Mrs Kay's "philosophy is all over the place" and that he views her as being the "champion of non-academics". By saying this Mr. Briggs implies that he feels that she is not fit to be a teacher. When Mr Briggs is complaining about Mrs Kay's organisational skills, she suddenly changes plans from going to Conway Castle to going to the zoo first. It is very ironical that Mr Briggs finds this out just as he is complaining about her. The teaching methods of Mr. Briggs and Mrs Kay shows that both the teachers are at extremes and at opposite ends. It is good to be patient and generous but Mrs Kay is too generous and laid back. It is also necessary to be firm and be responsible but Mr Briggs is far too strict. He needs to be slightly more sympathetic to the children while Mrs Kay needs to be firm and take responsibility. Using songs in the play is a technique used by Russell to give important ideas. Many of the songs are sung by the children; these songs tell us something about the children. For example in the first song, "We're Goin' Out", the line, "Goin' off somewhere far away", hints to the audience that the children are not very bright as they are not aware of where they are going or if its the right direction to go in. The reason for this may be as it is the first time they are travelling out of Liverpool. "Me mam says I can go ... ...read more.


At first the pupils try to touch Mr Briggs but he does not like it: "Girl1 and Girl 2 go to link arms with Briggs. He shrugs them off" this shows that he does not wish to associate with the children but after his character change on the cliff scene, " He stands with his arms wrapped around [Carol]." The audience also learn something about the teachers from the children themselves. Despite the Progress Class seeing Mr Briggs as a strict and constantly moaning teacher, many times in the play is it implied that the children want to learn something from the teacher. The Castle Song, Song 12, shows this: "Tell us, Sir go on, we want to learn from you sir" and "We'd be really brainy, Sir, if all the teachers were like you". This shows that Mr Briggs is the only one of the teachers that will teach and has any hope for them. This shows Mr Briggs in a positive light and Mrs Kay in a negative light as the Progress Class do not seem to believe that they can learn from Mrs Kay. Willy Russell seems to criticising teachers of the time because of their negative attitudes towards poor students and the lack of hope teachers have for these students. Russell compares the two different teachers at two extremes to show what a good teacher should be like. In conclusion it seems that Mr Briggs has a better attitude towards the teaching profession because he is responsible and always has hope for his students, although some of Mrs Kay's attributes, such as her kindness and generosity, should be taken into account. Grade - B/A ...read more.

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