A true educator will not say "I teach English, Math, German etc." but rather, "I teach children/pupils/students..." As Kathie Chipping puts it so well, "schoolmastering is so important, don't you think To be influencing those who are going to grow up and matter to the world..." (Hilton, 35).
On the surface, the style and methods of the old teacher appear conservative and conventional, like all good educators, he is open to change, when it is for the good, and not merely for its own sake. By incorporating new ideas, using humor, gentleness and wisdom, better results are achieved. By earning respect and love, such a teacher then becomes an inspiration and finally finds contentment and self-worth in knowing they have done a good job. Evidence of this is shown in the achievements of his pupils, his 'boys':
Conflict: The outward manifestation of the principal conflict is the passionate argument between Chips and Ralston, the young headmaster. The underlying differences are those of values and motivation. On one side, there is Ralston, efficient, ruthless, ambitious, 'modern' and materialistic. On the other, is Chips, representing years of tradition, old fashioned teaching methods, using a gentlemanly, timeless approach to what pupils should be learning, and with a genuine dedication to their personal development. Ralston's stance can be illustrated thus, when trying to get rid of Chips:
"Your boys don't learn even what they're supposed to learn. None of them last year got through the Lower certificate." (Hilton, 75).
In seeking to make money, and a reputation for himself, Chips perceived him to be "running Brookfield like a factory, a factory for turning out a snob-culture based on money and machines." (Hilton, 76). He detested the results of such activity, as "Vulgar..ostentatious...all the hectic rotten-ripeness of the age...no sense of proportion." (Hilton, 77). Their personalities and views on educational methods reflect opposing values. Ralston demands 'modernity', and changes which seek to show his perceived talents in a favorable light, not because it is better. Chips subscribes to the view that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', why make change for its own sake, certificates do not make better human beings.
In the historical context, the conflict occurs in a period of social change. Victorian morality had given way to a frenetic, rich, Edwardian decadence. But a huge gap still existed between the rich and the poor. While Ralston courted the rich for their money and power, Chips, influenced by the socialist, idealist and democratic beliefs he had absorbed from Kathie, hoped for change which
would encompass education for all, "a