Freedom Writers

20121210-174312.jpg (Source)

I subbed today in an English class. We watched Freedom Writers, a movie based on a book by Erin Gruwell. Gruwell was a teacher who used journaling as a method for teaching.

I asked the students, “Are you guys reading The Crucible?”

“Yeah.”

“I would have rather taught that than watch Freedom Writers.”

One student asked me, “What do you have against the movie?”

I don’t have a problem with the movie. I don’t have a problem with the author’s methods of teaching.

I do have a problem with the assumption that there haven’t been amazing, wonderful things happening in classrooms all around the country. I do have a problem with the assumption that there haven’t been educators worthy of a book deal or movie. I have a problem with people who have a profound impact on students that leave the classroom (she left the classroom after fours years of teaching, according to Wikipedia, but is still in education). I have a problem with books made into movies that Hollywood-ize everything, portraying the worst of every stereotype and race.

I cringe whenever I have to show a movie but since the author herself visited the campus last week, I suppose it warranted a showing. (That and the teacher did not anticipate her absence today.)

I assigned an essay to be written during the movie. Nothing major, just a couple of paragraphs that summarized the movie and commentary with examples. I wish I had written down some of the quotes I read from them. Most essays were full of observations and questions; many shared my concerns regarding stereotyping and exaggerating for Hollywood. But how many teenagers, let alone people, have been taught to think critically?

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One thought on “Freedom Writers

  1. Not only are they not taught to look critically but they look askance at you if you do.

    Today society has an “ooh that’s great” pervasiveness and ever increasingly with kids. Sometimes it’s tempting to say to my kids that for instance their artwork is “wonderful” but *sometimes* it’s actually better to say that it’s nice but I know they are capable of actually far better … and try and spur them on to reach higher (when I KNOW they are capable of it).

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