An Analysis of the Teacher and Her Students in the Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell
The Freedom Writers Diary is a book that I truly enjoyed. It is a book broken down in diary form viewing the survival of a first year teacher and her students. This book shines light on real issues that these students as well as their teacher went through. These issues range from racism, death, and gang related violence. Although the only person that is named throughout the entire book is Ms. Gruwell, one can still identify and keep track of the situations that occur. Diary number two, by far was the most prevalent in my opinion. It gave the viewpoint of a white male student in a class where he was the minority. What the hell am I doing in here? Im the only white person in this English class! Is this really where Im supposed to be? This student made it clear that he felt really uncomfortable in a class full of rejects. Since most of the rejects were not white, he felt he shouldnt have been in that class. The rejects, as he called them, were students that were labeled as problem students and or students with learning disabilities. Although this student had a learning disability, he felt that because of his race, he should have been placed in a high level class. Like many others he felt he should stick with his own kind; separate and not equal. This journal stood out to me because; I believe that when a person or group of people is considered a minority, most play upon that fact. Meaning that they may try to get over or receive special treatment just because In diary number two; this young white boy makes it apparent that because hes white people will listen to him. For example he says, Right after the bell rings, Im going to talk to my counselor and make her move me out of here. Ill lie and insist that theres been a computer error and that I am supposed to be in the Distinguished Scholars class, even though I suck in English and have a learning disability.
I know shell believe me cause Im white. Although the racism that these students went through was portrayed outside of school, it was definitely up in their face while in school. By placing mostly upper white students in these high level classes, sometimes due to social promotion, had a major impact on the students. They experienced racism all the time and as a result lived by it. This Long Beach School was a school with a very diverse student population, and they did not help in breaking the wall of stereotypes among the different nationalities. In schools today, I believe that separating students based upon their performance, can have two effects, either negative or positive. Separation can be viewed as something positive because if students are placed in honor classes, those that are not will be challenged to work harder so they too can be placed in the same class. Viewing the separation on a negative side, students that are not looked upon as the smart kids, may establish low self-esteems. I believe that separation of students based upon nationality and social status is unacceptable. If teachers allow this type of injustice to go on, what is one supposed to think about his or her credibility? Teachers as well as administrators are partly responsible for helping to relinquish the racist stereotypes that students as well as teachers may have against one another. Ms. Gruwell is a person that should be commended for her persistence and dedication. She was a teacher that was placed in the poorest area of Long Beach California with the worst possible kids. She was a teacher that most didnt believe that could make it. To her surprise and the surprise of others she succeeded.
Despite having such a mix genre of students to deal with, she made learning an experience full of fun and self-relating. Ms. Gruwell got all the students wanting to learn. This task was not easy, in the beginning; she didnt know what the students would think about her, what to think about them and wanted to take their opinion into consideration. Tomorrow morning, my journey as an English teacher officially begins. Since first impressions are so important, I wonder what my students will think about me. Will they think Im out of touch or too preppy? Or worse yet, that Im too young to be taken seriously? Maybe Ill have them write a journal entry describing what their expectations are of me and the class. This type of thinking is very substantial when it comes to teaching. Even though the teacher is deemed responsible for their class, he or she is really not. Students will dictate how the class is run. If you are a teacher such as Ms. Gruwell who takes into consideration the opinions of her students, you will be fine. Students need to feel that their opinions matter, if teachers would only talk with instead of talking at and listen to their students, teaching would be a blast! Most teachers dont allow their students to become involved, Ms. Gruwell did and her class turned out great. The most important thing that I learned after reading this book is that teaching is a very challenging career. I realize that your heart must be into it, or else it will be pointless. When teaching it is highly recommended that teachers come to class prepared with predetermined lessons, however, they should take into consideration the problems that their class faces as a whole. I learned that when you individualize situations learning becomes more receptive. I also learned that ignorance in a world full of diversity leads to destruction of self and community.