“Freedom Writers” is one of the few films that are worth watching but is unfortunately viewed, discussed and reflected upon by the majority, especially us, students. The film showcases both the internal and external struggles of Erin Gruwell (Hillary Swank) as a teacher in handling the students of room 203 who are composed of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, juvenile delinquents, gang members, and underprivileged students from poor neighborhoods in Long Beach California.
It strategically conveys the ideological, psychological and sociological transformations which happened not only to the students but to the teacher as well. It exemplifies how respect, understanding and acceptance of a teacher towards her students influence them in a very positive manner. The quite impossible task of creating less violent, more disciplined and united students among a class of mixed races proved to be a minimalist problem. The teacher simply has to open her own eyes and see through her students so she may address their ‘real’ concerns.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was implemented by the Department of Education for the purpose of raising achievements for all students no matter what gender, economic strata, or culture they may belong to but cultural stereotypes are still very much present in our school today which hinders the sociological, emotional and even the intellectual growth of the students. This does not only start for K-12 learners as depicted in the movie but begins even at the elementary level. Nevertheless, if you want to dig deeper it starts at home.
Parents transmit values to their children consciously or unconsciously. Media in like manner conveys stereotypical concepts especially in music and television. A very common case is presented in the film- caricature drawing. One way of hurting the feelings of another is to draw him/her in the ugliest way possible which is done by exaggerating some of their not so beautiful aspect of the body. The moment a person is hurt then his self-esteem decreases and sooner or later you will find him or her wasting her life just because of a single incident.
Elementary students may have a different way of stereotyping. They may do this by drawing animal pictures and scribbling the name of the student whom they hate below the picture or they may simply form a small group which shares the same skin color as theirs. Sooner or later, you will see this kids congregating in a specific place at a specific time. Before you know it you have a gang which is formed out of their disgust towards another gang. At present, being different is a mortal sin and the only remedy to this is to join forces with others who look and breath like you.
The sad part is some students fail to realize this. Seating arrangements convey how each student views himself inside the classroom and unless the student accept his identity, which is composed of positive and negative qualities, then he will be prone to stereotyping until the last days of his life. The remedy to this problem is to allow the students, even at an early age to embrace their true identity and not to be ashamed of it. In the words of Erin she states, “. . . realizing what color you are, where you are.
You are a human being and everybody deserves a chance”. This is a fact. Everybody deserves a chance and that chance rests on the hands of the individual – the student. But as a teacher, we must also see the real identity of our students so that we can guide them in seeing it as well. Erin did so in asking them to write journals. There may be other means in doing this but bear in mind that you cannot give what you do not have. So the discovery should begin first and foremost from the teacher and will soon extend to her students. REFERENCES Tooby, J.
, and Cosmides, L. , (1992), “The Psychological Foundations of Culture”, in The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, and J. Tooby (eds. ), Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 19–136. US Department of Education. (12 October 2007) 10 Facts about K12 education funding retrieved 7 April 2010 http://www2. ed. gov/about/overview/fed/10facts/index. html Vlasenko, Ekaterina et. Al. Cross Cultural Blog (1 April 2009) Cultural stereotypes: the way we see them retrieved on 7 April 2010 http://www.
stanford. edu/group/ccr/blog/2009/04/cultural_stereotypes_the_way_w. html Note: The two clips may be the hateful note; worst summer diary. You may view this in youtube. The first one is the negative effect of cultural stereotyping and the worst summer diary is the realization which happened to the entire class after hearing the work of their ‘ghost’ classmate. They soon realized that even though they have different skin color and culture they still share the same experiences. I hope you like the essay.