Education in Freedom Writers

Foundations of Education

Film Critique – Freedom Writers

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Historically, constructs such as course of study, course of study, lesson program, educational aims have been all important words in instruction. These constructs do non be in a vacuity. Teaching and acquisition are frequently affected by societal, political, economic, and historical factors that are non accounted for in the formal course of study. The movieFreedom Writersexplores some of these factors from the vantage point of Ms. Gruwell, an inexperient in-between category Caucasian female instructor at an incorporate school, Woodrow Wilson Classical High School inLong Beach, California. The movie is set in the racially charged ambiance of 1994, less than two old ages after the Los Angeles public violences sparked by the acquittal of the Caucasic officers who were caught on camera brutalising Rodney King, an African American. Her group of racially diverse at hazard pupils are unflatteringly labeled “unteachables” . Before she can learn basic constructs in poesy, nevertheless, Ms. Gruwell has to postulate with and get the better of the racial stereotypes, low instructor and pupil outlooks, hapless subject, socioeconomic restraints, and nearsighted bureaucratic policy that have resulted in her students’ negative attitude to their instructors, school, the educational system, and life in general. They believe that their educational boundaries are limited, that their instructors are non invested in them, and that school is simply another prison to which they are assigned during the twenty-four hours to contend the undeclared war. Both instructors and pupils believe that the pupils are hopeless and that attempts to learn them utilizing the formal course of study is an exercising in futility. This paper explores how certain factors external to the educational institutions—racial stereotypes, low instructor and pupil outlook, hapless subject, socioeconomic and historical restraints, and myopic political policy—affect the educational procedure as portrayed inFreedom Writers.

Initially, Ms. Gruell tried an uneffective instructor dominated, teacher centered attack to educating her pupils. Try as she might, nevertheless, she could non acquire the pupils interested in her lessons. The pupils regarded her as an foreigner and that she had to derive their regard before they would give them hers and let her to learn them. Ms. G was forced to revise her instruction manner and schemes to make her pupils. Finally she expelled the course of study and merely listened to her pupils. Her wisdom was in acknowledging that she had to link with them and to understand that they had demands that had to be acknowledged and barriers that had to be demolished before they would be taught. She assigned stuffs about minorities and favoritism that they could associate to includingThe Diary of Anne Frankand Elie Wiesel’sNight. She empowered them with words by giving them journals in which they could compose their ain narratives. She devised activities and field trips to assist them larn regard and tolerance of one another. The pupil listened to guest talkers, and conducted a field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum so they could see racism, intolerance, decease and unfairness in a new context. She was even able to raise financess for category undertakings and excursions. Once she had gotten their involvement, Ms. G unrelentingly built on subjects that which was familiar her pupils. In so making, she achieves what therefore far had been apparently impossible: acquiring her pupils interested in reading instruction.

Ms. Gruwell’s pedagogical manner evolved to resemble the Inquiry Approach. Inquiry is a student-centered pedagogical theoretical account which is based on the thought that learning and larning are enhanced when pupils are active agents in the instruction and acquisition procedure. Teaching is most effectual when pupils are non merely passively digesting arbitrary information, but are engaged in the existent building of diverse, relevant, and existent universe cognition. Therefore, the really nature of the Inquiry Approach means that it is extremely effectual model for providing to students’ different acquisition manners and for easing the direction of disputing course of study. The learning sequence is based on constructs that facilitate effectual larning instead than arbitrary schoolroom activities: undertaking real-world inquiries, issues and contentions, developing oppugning, research and communicating accomplishments, and work outing jobs or making solutions. Schema activation, jointing fresh methods of treating thoughts, pulling thoughts and bring forthing new thoughts from experiences, carry oning independent research are of import to Inquiry. Inquiry is reliable: lessons and content are focused on reliable, relevant thoughts that pupils are really interested in. This is the ultimate mastermind of the Inquiry Approach: the deep apprehension of spontaneous content in an reliable context which extends beyond the schoolroom. While Ms. G might hold opted merely to learn the established course of study, she alternatively opted to learn the pupils in the manner they needed to be taught.

One of the of import subjects ofFreedom Writersis that learning and larning do non take topographic point in a vacuity. Rather, the schoolroom is a microcosm of the larger society where a host of societal, historical, political and economic factors converge in the schoolroom and straight encroach on the instruction procedure. This overplus of factors influence the educational procedure and how efficaciously a instructor can learn.

Political agents included the school disposal and the Board of Education ; all cogs in a system designed to stamp down the promotion of minorities. The indurate label of “unteachable” placed on the pupils merely exacerbates the sense of subjugation these disenfranchised minority pupils feel. The school serves as microcosm of the larger society where subjugation was even more permeant and damaging. Alternatively of functioning as a springboard for the pupils to self-actualize and get away the bonds of the “matrix of domination” by disputing them to accomplish high criterions, it alternatively institutionalized the same subjugation the prevented the pupils from self-actualizing in the first topographic point. A simple illustration is the reading list for category. Alternatively of leting the pupils to interact with high quality, disputing reading stuff such as Shakespeare’sRomeo and Juliet, they pupils were expected to read a condensed version of the drama which was below the reading criterion for their class. Even worse, the chief concern of the caput of section, Ms. Margaret Campbell, was that the pupils would damage the books alternatively of reading them. She was non concerned with ambitious pupils to make for high academic achievements. She merely fed into the machinery of the “matrix” where “unteachable” pupils continue to execute much more ill than their Caucasic opposite numbers. What she fails to recognize is that this attitude merely perpetuates the really issue that she complains approximately. Harmonizing to Carborne II in “ Race, Class, and Oppression: Solutions for Active Learning and Literacy in the Classroom. ”

The disadvantage perpetuated by this subjugation can act upon a student’s motive to win in school, and has been shown to negatively impact academic public presentation and degrees of self-pride. In many urban school scenes, the racial impact of socio-economic position is reflected in the academic public presentation of minority pupils in those schools every bit good as in the sense of hopelessness that frequently accompanies it.

The influence of historical factors and the influence on attitudes to instruction is clear inFreedom Writers. The movie is set in 1994 shortly after the 1992 race public violences in Los Angeles which were prompted by the televised constabulary ferociousness of Rodney King. With the individual exclusion of a male Caucasic pupil, Erin Gruwell’s pupils are minorities: Afro-american, Latino, Asian, and Mexican. Traditionally, undereducated, underprivileged and marginalized, these pupils grew up with a long history of racial, economic, educational, and societal unfairness. They come from vicinities that are traditionally controlled by offense Godheads, drug top bananas ; vicinities where drugs, broken households, gang-life and force are a manner of life. Survival dominates their thought, and most are confident that the will non make their eighteenth birthday. The hatred the system that warehouses them in incorporate school and forgets that they exist. Their primary end in school is to last the twenty-four hours.

Learning is of secondary importance peculiarly if the instruction comes from a Caucasic, the representation of the system that they hate so much. Initially, Ms. G’s pupils resisted her efforts to educate them, because they had been socialized to believe of Caucasians as “them” : racially oppressive forces that historically have undermine and disfranchised minority races. The pupils refuse to or can non esteem her as a instructor or even as a human being because she is one of “them. They fail to admit the possible positive branchings of being educated by her.

The most damnatory facet of this sort of oppressive system is that it is self-perpetuating. Over coevalss, the subjugation has become steadfastly engrained in the lives of minorities to the point where they internalise and attest the stereotypes even as they resist them. For illustration, while Ms. G was truly interested in her pupils, but after old ages of favoritism and sick intervention, her involvement came across as understanding, or worse commiseration. Her positive attitude was non accepted at face value. Alternatively her show of what the pupils interpreted as what Freire footings “false charity” was yet another spot of cogent evidence that the system was stacked against them. The fact is that she “needed” to demo “charity” because of the system—her system—put minorities at an unjust economic disadvantage.

Economicss play a major function in Room 203. Research workers such as Jonathan Kozol ( 2008 ) and Berliner ( 2006 ) record galvanizing correlativities between the accomplishment spread and which are straight linked to economic prosperity. Harmonizing to a Trends in Mathematics and Science Study TIMMS ( 2003 ) , “American schools with the most wealth possess the highest trial scores” . Conversely, American schools with the highest degrees of poorness achieve the lowest trial tonss. Hodgkinson ( 2008 ) studies even more startling statistics: the United States has the largest entire figure of kids populating below the poorness line. In this demographic, 33 % is African while merely 14 % is Caucasic. Hodgkinson asserts that long term investing from authorities and non-governmental bureaus would be the best manner to relieve the job of pupil public presentation in underperforming schools. Investing like this would hold a ripple consequence in the larger society by interrupting the rhythm of poorness. However, the issue is far excessively complex to be solved by a simple injection of fiscal capital into hapless acting schools. A collaborative attempt is needed where pupils, parents, instructors, school decision makers, and instructors converge as a individual entity to battle this issue.

Initially, Ms. G’s pupils resisted her efforts to educate them, because they had been socialized to believe of Caucasians as “them” : racially oppressive forces that historically have undermine and disfranchised minority races. Their attitude toward her was based on their old experiences with “white teachers” and other privileged members of a racially oppressive system, who do non understand the battle that they had experienced as minorities: poorness, favoritism, offense, drugs, racism, and decease. In fact, for these laden pupils, these persons are really portion of the machinery designed to perpetually oppress minorities. With her changeless smiling, her high minded ideals, and her lame, misguided efforts to salvage the minority pupils from their ain lives, she fit absolutely the stereotype of “white privilege” . The writer of “Race, Class, and Oppression: Solutions for Active Learning and Literacy in the Classroom” explains this in footings of a “matrix of domination” where the accomplishment spread between minority pupils and their Caucasic opposite numbers has led to the marginalisation of many pupils by societal category and race” . The pupils refuse to or can non esteem her as a instructor or even as a human being because she is one of “them. They fail to admit the possible positive branchings of being educated by her.

The film provides an in-depth geographic expedition of the complex kineticss of outlooks. Historically, low outlooks were routinely assigned to take down category or minority populations by instructors and the pupils themselves. The academic downgrade of Woodrow Wilson High School after integrating “proved” that minorities are non as academically capable as pupils from other privileged backgrounds. The hapless public presentation was farther exacerbated by the students’ deficiency of subject which in bend confirmed teachers’ negative attitude and low outlooks. Possibly the worst effect so such attitudes is that they creates a sense of lower status in these pupils who now internalize these low outlooks of others now manifest them as low outlooks of themselves.

Clearly, outlooks are a dual edged blade. Positive outlooks are a major subscriber to pupil success, while negative outlooks have the opposite consequence. Over the last several decennaries a figure of research workers have shown that irrespective of whether the instructor or pupils have high or low academic outlooks, self-fulfilling prognostications assure that those outlooks will be met. The consequences of a survey of 30,000 minority pupils by Harvard University economic expert and research worker Ronald F. Ferguson discovered “the distinguishable importance of instructor encouragement as a beginning of motive of colored students” . Both Mr. Gelford and Ms. Campbell, and the remainder of the staff, had low outlooks of the “unteachables” in Room 203. From the oncoming, Ms. Campbell indicated that Ms. G’s objectives in her lesson program were pitched above the students’ ability and advised her to simplify them. She besides dismissed the thought that the pupil should be provided with rich, stimulating stuff. Mr. Gelford refused to entertain the thought that the pupils would be able to appreciate the novelThe Diary of Anne Frankand sneered at the thought that they had the rational edification to pull analogues between their lives and Anne’s life. Ms. G’s childs were non expected to accomplish every bit much as the pupils in Mr. Gelford’s advanced category so they were held to a different, albeit lower, standard.

The solution for antagonizing the detrimental effects of low outlooks is non simply to chase away low outlooks or to declare a belief in high outlook. Teachers must believe that pupils have to potential for limitless success. Rosenthal and Jacobson’s 1968 experiment indicated that pupils showed singular academic success simple because their instructors thought they would. Had Erin attended to the advice about the achievement potency of the pupils in 203 would ne’er hold achieved their singular academic public presentation. What drove them to accomplish was her simple belief that they were merely as capable of the degrees of accomplishment as their Caucasic opposite numbers.

Despite all odds, Ms. G was able to accomplish what the two instructors before her had been unable to. She was able to acquire the pupils in Room 203 to take an active involvement in their ain instruction. Despite all odds, and with great personal forfeit, she showed the pupils what it truly meant to hold an instruction in an oppressive universe. She gave them hope for the hereafter. Once she shifted the focal point from her instruction to the pupils acquisition, she was able to acknowledge that the racial stereotypes, low instructor and pupil outlook, hapless subject, socioeconomic and historical restraints, and limited bureaucratic policy are existent restraints that compromise the educational procedure.

The movieFreedom Writersinspires me as a instructor. Students today are much more hard to pull off, but as the movie shows, direction troubles are rooted in societal, economic, political, and historical factors that the pupils internalise and consciously manifest in ways that compromise them. It takes tremendous dedication, forbearance, and strong belief to assist pupils interrupt through whatever restraints the pupils are fighting with. Ms. Gruwell’s experiences remind me of my first yearss as a instructor with typed lesson programs and a 1000 misconceptions about how pupils should be taught. Ultimately, we have to understand out functions as facilitators of acquisition, and more loosely, life. Our jobs—vocation—as instructors is non simply to air facts. Rather it is to educate pupils in the sense of assisting them to garner and build relevant information that will assist them to germinate as originative single minds. Teachers need to happen accelerators that generate the fire for larning in their pupils. We need to endeavor day-to-day to happen originative and radical agencies to acquire pupils to accomplish manner beyond their wildest outlooks. If Ms. G, inexperienced and idealistic as she was, inspired 150 at hazard pupils to persist and graduate, so so can any instructor. She genuinely is an inspiration for us all.


Carbone II, S. A. ( 2010 ) . “ Race, Class, and Oppression: Solutions for Active Learning and Literacy in the Classroom. ”Student Pulse,2( 01 ) . Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: // id=113

Laurier. J. ( 2007 ) . “Freedom Writers: Truly no kid left behind” Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: //

O’Hara, M. ( 2009 ) . “Freedom Writers: Their Story Their Words. A Study Guide” . Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: //

Teach for America. ( 2011 ) . “Diversity, Community and Achievement” . Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: //


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