Our Day Out
In our day out, drama arises from the conflict caused between Mr. Briggs and Mrs. Kay and from Mr. Briggs changeable attitudes towards the pupils from the progress class. Discuss several episodes in the play which demonstrate this to be true.
The play is about a class of poor children from the inner city of Liverpool who go on a rare day trip to Wales to visit Conway castle. They also belong to the progress class as the script is set in the early days of comprehensive education. The progress classes very rarely go on trips as in scene 31, page 56 it reads “for some of them it’s the first time they’ve been further then Birkenhead” so therefore they take advantage and run riot.
The play mainly revolves around two teachers who go on the trip called Mrs. Kay and Mr. Briggs. They both have extremely different attitudes to teaching as Mrs. Kay is very outgoing and calm. The pupils respect her and are seen having a good time together throughout the trip. The main reason for this is as she has a child centred approach and acts as a mother hen, however Mr. Briggs is the opposite as he is strict and has very high expectations of the children. He takes a grammar school approach and teaches the examination classes so therefore I believe his method could be more effective as he teaches the better educated pupils.
Mr. Briggs is instructed to go along on the trip as he and the head teacher both agree she has no sense of control or punishment so therefore the children may cause trouble and run riot. We know this as they see her as a soft touch and believes she is more of a friend than a teacher so the children do not take the teaching seriously.
I believe Mr. Briggs worries too much about his and the schools reputation to let this happen. So therefore the both have different aims for the day out as Mrs. Kay is there to make it enjoyable for her and her class however Mr. Briggs is highly against the idea of a trip so therefore is only going to watch over her and the children. The reason for this is as he believes they would learn more in the class room, he understands it as being an excuse to cause destruction and mayhem within the castle.
Due to the different sides of the two teachers conflict is caused. This is mainly as he thinks the trip was poorly organised and has no education values. He also disagrees with all off Mrs. Kay’s decision. I believe if it was up to Mr. Briggs he would have liked to have more control and enforce more rules.
Towards the end of the play Mrs. Kay begins to gain respect for Mr. Briggs and becomes appreciative of him as he began to understand the values of the progress class as well as finding lost student Carol with out making a deal about it. He is also seen enjoying him self with the kids towards the end of the play as well as taking them to the fun fair. Mr. Briggs begins of by thinking they are all the same and out to cause trouble but once he gets to know them his views change a drastically.
I believe that both teachers are incredibly different as Mrs. Kay is a lot more positive then Mr. Briggs for example in scene 2 page 18 it reads “(Bright) Good morning Mr. Briggs”. This shows her as being upbeat however Mr. Briggs then responds by saying”(Begrudged) Morning.” This is showing him as being grumpy and negative.
Within the scene 4 page 19 it shows him moaning to the headmaster about the trip as she is not strict enough. They both seem to agree, so therefore Mr. Briggs is instructed to go along. This may cause conflict within the later scenes of the play as he may end up ordering her around.
As they are boarding the coach two characters from Mr. Briggs examination class come running over and plead with Mrs. Kay to let them go as they used to be in the progress class. Being the soft touch she is she instructs them to ask Mr. Briggs to ensure it is OK. This shows her teaching methods were not a complete failure as she managed to get them into the examination class.
Throughout the play Mrs. Kay is seen siding with the kids more so than the adults. I believe the first case of this is when she is speaking to Ronnie the coach driver as she tricks him into thinking the children have no pop or candy and furthermore cons him into feeling sorry for the children, and hand’s them over some money in order to buy sweets. Therefore I believe she sees him as a sucker.
When everyone is aboard the coach she tells them that there is only one rule for the day as in scene 5 page 23 she says “Now listen! We want everyone to enjoy themselves, so let’s have no silly squabbling or doing anything that might be dangerous to you or others”. I think this may show she is very caring towards the children and would not like to see them get harmed. This is also something parents are likely to say to there children so therefore reflects on her mother figure again.
The light hearted atmosphere is soon ruined when Mr. Briggs boards the coach. The reason for this is as he did not even think to greet anyone but instead bellowed at Reilly and Digger to sit down. When he steps on the coach all the children are said to sigh. I think this shows how little respect they have for him as they believe he will go out his way to ruin there day. The teachers also have no respect for him as when they were informed he was coming along they assumed it was only so he could keep and eye on them as he believe they are incapable and soft, unlike him.
Whilst on their way to Conway castle Mrs. Kay decided to stop at the zoo. I think she stopped of at the zoo for several reasons. Firstly I believe she wanted them to have as much fun as possible as the children are said to very rarely leave Birkenhead and are unlikely to go on anymore school trips. She probably did not like the thought of them all being crammed on the bus for so long either and therefore wanted to give them the chance to stretch their legs and run of a bit of steam. It was also a good opportunity for the children to get to know Mr. Briggs as he was an expert in natural history and if he got to know the children a bit better it may make him more laid back. It could also be perceived as another way, as some people may think she wants the children to run riot so Mr. Briggs has to suffer and chase after them. It may be to get he own back.
Mr. Briggs was obviously against her decision as he is likes to keep to a schedule as in scene 21 page 44 it reads “Well that’s all I’m saying, but if they’re going to have a good and stimulating day then it’s got to be planned and executed better then this”. He does not agree with trips either, as far as his concerned one is bad enough. The only reason he would agree with a trip is if it had educational values however a zoo is totally of task.
As much as he would not like to admit it Mr. Briggs seemed very impressed with the children’s behaviour and interest at the zoo as they were said to have asked many questions and seemed to have educated debates among each other as they appeared intrigued about what he was saying. He also trusts them enough to leave them on their own whilst he goes to the zoo cafï¿½ with Mrs. Kay and furthermore praises them up to her. We know this because he informed her that they had been very good and seemed really interested in the animals. He was so impressed he also offered to show the kids a collection of slides when they get back to school. This may cause the audience to think it is a break through for Mr. Briggs however he soon changes his views about the kids as well as his positive reception.
The audience may find the fact that the two teachers are no longer at war slightly boring as the modern day audience enjoys drama and conflict within scripts. It might also help entice the readers as they maybe aware something shall happen within the later scenes of the play to cause an uproar of conflict between the two teachers as their views about teaching are still very different.
Mr. Briggs trust was shortly mistreated after the children were left unsupervised as Ronson was said to have taken a rabbit out of its cage and began to coach it, many children were then said to follow his example and were shortly all holding furry friends. This scene was very brief; I believe the reason for this is because they wanted to leave the readers in suspense however it becomes a little bit clearer in the next scene as it reads “The animal pit is empty. The children have gone”. Although this scene is once again short I believe it is very effective. The reason for this is as it leaves it as a bit of a cliff hanger. It also leaves the reader thinking of what they may have done to the animals as the hint could have been perceived in a variety of different ways.
In scene 29 page 50 Mrs Kay asks Susan “Is everyone on board?” and she answers”Yes we wandered back and most of them were already here”. This may make them look suspicious and are therefore trying to make the teachers trust them, also in scene 29 page 51it reads “Inside the coach the kids look like angels”. This is implying they have been up to mischief and are trying to hide it. Just as the coach began to drive of and the children thought they had gotten away with it the zoo keeper came running over in a panic and waves the coach down. After it pulls over the keeper strides on board the coach and begins accusing the children of stealing the zoo animals.
Mr. Briggs surprises me at this point as he sides with the children for the first time within the play and further more instructs the zoo keeper to control his language in front of the children. I believe the reason for this is as he does not think the children are capable of doing anything quite so bad considering the behaviour he had recently seen. The main reason however is because he had learnt to trust them throughout the trip at the zoo and does not believe they would betray him. Lastly they were acting innocent into conning the teachers into thinking the zoo keeper was full of lies which obviously worked. This did not work for long however as the clucking of a bantam hen was over heard by the zoo keeper.
As the animals were taken off board the coach I believe Mr Briggs was very embarrassed and disappointed. We know this as in scene 29 page 51 it reads “Briggs stairs icily” I believe this shows he was deep in thought as well as being raged with anger and humiliated due to the children’s actions. Mrs Kay is also very upset as it reads “Mrs Kay raises her eyebrows to heaven”, it may also be as she knows she wont hear the end of it from MR Briggs. I believe she is more disappointed then angry, the reason for this is because she could have chosen to shout however she took a more subtle approach.
In the next scene (scene 30) Mr Briggs begins to shout at the children, expressing his feelings of how they have disobeyed his trust. It mentions that the kids had heard it all before. This implies they regularly get into trouble. I believe he sounds a little harsh towards them as he describes them as animals. He is bound to be angry however there are more ways to handle it then to be offensive for instance if it was Mrs Kay tackling the problem I think she would take a more subtle approach. Other may disagree and think it was the only way they would have learnt as Mrs Kay tactics have shown not to be very affective. He also mentions several times that they had disobeyed his trust. I think the reason he used repetition is to make it stick in there mind however he comes over patronising.
In believe this would help intrigue the modern day audience as we enjoy conflict and drama within plays. It may also make them feel sorry for the kids as many of them were to young to see what they were doing wrong as they very rarely go on trips and do not know how to act. They may also feel that if Mr Briggs was more lenient it may not have happened as he seems to negative.
After punishing the kids he began to make some extra arrangements to attempt to gain order and control again. We know this as it says “Mrs Kay when we get to the castle we shall split up into four groups. Each member of staff will be responsible for one group”. I believe many of the teachers would be infuriated of his decisions because he seems to be taking over as he is ordering them around instead of consulting them. The reason for thee arrangements are to prevent them from running riot which is proven unsuccessful. I also find Mr Briggs is very selfish as I believe the only reason he enforces these rules are to protect his reputation.
Mr Briggs rules were abandoned by most of the groups except for his own which shows his method of teaching can be seen more effective. I expect all the children were worried about being put in his group and were hoping to go in Mrs Kay’s. The reason for this is because the children know they will get away with very little in Mr Briggs group, they also have very little respect for him and in my opinion find him boring most of the time. We know the children did not enjoy themselves in his group as in scene 31 page 52 it says “Briggs, with a group of ordered children standing behind him, pointing to a spot high up on the castle. The kids all look up bored”. This also implies his rules were kept within the group.
Mrs Kay however was the opposite as she was relaxed and enjoyable. We know this as in scene 31 page 53 it reads “in another part of the castle, kids are rushing about playing medieval cowboys and Indians”. This shows how laid back she really was as she let them get on with what they wanted to do. If Mr Briggs was to find out about this I believe further conflict would be caused.
As well as the kids rarely leaving Birkenhead I neither think Mrs Kay goes away much either as in scene 31 page 53 it says “Mrs Kay sits on a bench over looking the estuary”. I believe she is making the most of the scenery as she is said to live in a built up and rough area.
Colin neither stuck to rules as although he showed Karen and Linda around the castle his other students had slipped of without him noticing as it says “Sir they kept dropping out as you were talking”. This shows he was also not very successful in keeping order and the only reason the others stayed is because they were said to fancy him. He replied to her remark saying “O God”. This may show he is scared of what Mr Briggs may say or do.
Overall I believe the rules were very poorly enforced, the reason for this may be as they do not respect Mr Briggs enough for him to have authority over them or they may have underestimated the children. We are aware the rules were ineffective as there were children running riot around the castle as well as smoking and being a nuisance.
After seeing the chaos caused by the kids Mr Briggs was fuming and therefore confronted Mrs Kay. At the time she was having a conversation with Andrews and Carol however he did not seem to care and ordered them to go. We know this as is scene 31 page 56 it reads “You to…off! Go on move”. He seemed to be enraged at this point as he did not even give the children the opportunity to move before bellowing at them. This would be more in order if they would have had refused to leave however they were said to have moved without restraint, I believe the reason they moved so freely is as most of them are scared of him as he is often harsh with his punishments. This sentence also emphasises how inconsiderate and selfish he really is.
After the children are forced away Mrs Kay says to him ” I was speaking to those kids” This shows she is siding with the kids once again and shows she is against most of his decisions and therefore is the main reason conflict is usually cause between the two teachers. To make it worst he replies “Yes and im, now talking to you, Mrs Kay” I believe he comes over patronising and sounds as if he only cares about himself and what ever he wants he gets. There is no sympathy or apology from him, the reason for this is because I believe he thinks he is always right.
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