In the play Our Day Out, we come to see two very different personalities, as the teachers clash on a school outing to Conway. The teachers are Mr Briggs (a strict teacher, who is used to teaching more intelligent children) and Mrs Kay (a teacher who identifies with the children’s needs). There very different characteristics of the two teachers become apparent in the first four pages of the play, when two older students Reilly and Digga ease their way into the school trip by working ‘the head’ with Mrs Kay which would never even come to the minds of those involved if it was a trip organised by Mr Briggs. As we can already see this already outlines the ‘soft’ nature of Mrs Kay.
I think the first part of the play were Briggs shows how pathetic he thinks the Progress class is, is when he shows his dislike and disgust for the progress class by nearly collapsing when he hears that a ‘kid’ has been to the shops to get sweets, here is his reaction to the child getting sweets, ‘sweets? Sweets?’ this part of speech gives you a picture in your mind of Mr Briggs’s face, you get a picture not believing what is happening around him. My views are that because Mr Briggs may not of been in this sort of remedial environment before everything that does not normally happen around him is automatically abnormal.
Mr Briggs seems to get on better with the older students, for example when he has a long conversation with Reilly and Digga about the Liverpool Docks and his own private life by saying things like,” I’m often down here at weekends, taking notes, photo-graphs”.
Mrs Kay first shows her parent like teaching skills when she is talking to Carol with an understanding tolerant attitude, what really highlights on Mrs Kays parent like attitude is when she links Carol Chandler’s arm at the end of the conversation, this also shows how mother like Mrs Kay is.
After Briggs’s conversation with Reilly and Digga he almost immediately looks up to see Linda Croxley(a student with a habit for not wearing the correct school uniform, or indeed any school uniform) kneeling up on her seat talking to the person behind her this annoyed Mr Briggs greatly, he stormed over at screamed ‘ Linda Croxley!’, Linda didn’t even acknowledge Mr Briggs’s presence by not looking at his face when she says What? , as if to say ‘ What do you want now’. This shows how Linda does not have any respect for Mr Briggs.
Mr Briggs then questions her on the outfit she is wearing, when he questions her on this she ignores him and stares out of the window and says ‘ what!’ , Briggs does not like this attitude so he says ‘ Don’t you ‘what’ me young lady’, which shows just a fraction of his already apparent bitterness towards the progress class children’s attitudes. At the end of Briggs’s conversation with Linda he replies to Linda’s ‘ I don’t wanna see no crappy castle anyway’, by saying ‘Count yourself lucky you’re not a lad ‘, which suggests to me that he is either being slightly sexist or he pointing out that if Linda was a boy he would probably give her a quick ‘clip round the back of the head’. If indeed he was being sexist or not it seems as if he is being lenient with her because she is a girl and if she was a boy he would probably hit her.
Sometimes in the play, Mrs Kay trusts the children too much and they take advantage of this at every opportunity they get.
Briggs has a conversation to Colin about Mrs Kay’s teaching methods, it seems as if Briggs wants to get Colin onto his own side by saying that Mrs Kay’s ‘ love and kindness tactic’ does not do the kids any good, Colin argues against this theory by saying that all the kids are here for is to have a good day out.
At one point in the play when Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay go into a cafe at the zoo, which is where, Briggs and Kay first start to get along with each other, with Mr Briggs offering to give a slide show talk with the kids, At this point in the play Briggs shows a side of him that confirms that he is not as bad he seems. At first he seems reluctant to get along with the kids but when he offers to do the talk it shows his concerns for kids and that he does actually care about them, which people would never of thought about him before this.
Almost immediately after he has had the talk with Mrs Kay about the slide show he goes back into a strict teacher, the point at when he does this is when the zoo keeper comes flying out of the zoo’s gates to complain about the missing animals. When this happens it seems to trigger an unexploded bomb inside Mr Briggs he gives the children a lecture about his trust which has clearly been broken by the kids, he uses powerful pieces of text saying that the children should be treated like animals and why people will not treat them like normal people. This proves my theory about Mrs Kay being to trust worthy of the kids, thinking that they will behave well while not under supervision.
At probably the most influential part in the play which is at the castle when Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay have an argument over each others teaching skills, with Mrs Kay showing all of her attributes as a teacher which are that she can teach but she teaches the remedial the children of the progress class differently than other more able children. She does this by letting them’ take it easy’, she does this because she knows they haven’t got the brains to do anything with their lives. This part of the play will shock the audience and it will make them think. At the end of the conversation, Mrs Kay infuriates Mr Briggs by saying that the children are going to the beach.
In my view the part in the play where Mr Briggs shows his real talent as a teacher, is when he is trying to get Carol Chandler down from the cliff he acts calmly and shows his real skill as teacher, he changes from a strict teacher to a normal person talking one to one with Carol Chandler, this is a very important aspect to finding out what Mr Briggs’s personality is really like.
My views on the two characters Mr Briggs and Mrs Kay are that Willy Russell has cleverly created two characters that share certain similarities, For example, they are both suited to their position in the school, and that Mr Briggs is only strict when he gets notified of something which annoys him, otherwise he is a good man. Mrs Kay knows what she is doing when she is teaching the progress class. She lets them have some slack, but in this she also teaches them what they need to learn for the environment of work they would be going into when they are older.