The Freedom Writers
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The Freedom Writers film has greatly surpassed many films in communicating to the world about the importance of learning in abolishing ignorance. This paper will focus on various ways through which the film emphasizes this.
The film Freedom Writers was produced in 2007 and is about a teacher, Erin Gruwell who joins Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach. The school has recently established an integration plan. The new students are, however, not the students she was expecting. They are not eager to attend college. They are organized into gangs and segregated into racial groups. These students are chained by painful past experiences which are sometimes witnessed through outburst of fights. The children do not know any other ways to express themselves but Erin, determined and focused, helps them open up and change for the better.
Erin Gruwell has a difficult time with Margaret Campbell, the department head, who prefers training obedience and discipline to the use of books in helping students change. Erin prefers using books but Margaret thinks that they will get lost or damaged. Erin’s view is that books helps change the children so that they are able to express themselves, study hard and attend college. Changing attitudes is the first major step in changing people who are ignorant and who are victims of their environment. They are able to see their situations differently and accept themselves and others. This leads to tolerance and makes an individual have a peaceful mind. Eventually, such individuals will editate and reshape their lives. For example, Erin’s students, who would at the beginning turn their backs against her, openly showing their skepticism and scorn for her, changed and passed well in their exams.
When one student draws a racist picture of a fellow student, Erin teaches the students about dangers of racism. Racism is an indication of ignorance, because people benefit a lot by being tolerant and accepting one another. Furthermore, it is practiced through generations and those who practice it only do so because it was practiced by their forefathers. Educating people on such things helps break a destructive generational cycle. Erin uses the example of the genocide against Jews, during Adolf Hitler’s time, to warn against racism.
Erin buys composition books for the students. They are encouraged to record their diaries. In the diaries, they write about their experiences, such as witnessing a friend or relative die, undergoing physical abuse, being evicted and so on. Opening up relieves people off their baggage and they are therefore able to embrace change. When the experiences of the students are recorded in The Freedom Writers Diary, individual students learn that each person has their own problems. This helped each one of them believe they are victims of the same environment and that they have a common destiny. When people realize that they all face the same problems, they try to resolve their differences and look for solutions.
Miep Gies was invited by Erin to help children learn about morals. She appeared in a class in which Erin and her students read The Diary of Anne Frank. Miep had sheltered Anne when she wanted to talk to German soldiers. Miep shares her story with the students. She said that she was compelled to do the right thing. Through learning, people learn to take responsibility. Doing the right thing is part of taking responsibility. It enables people lead guilt-free lives. For example, Eva decided to lead a guilt-free life when she heard Miep’s story. She would not give false testimony in a court case on the murder of Sindy’s boyfriend.
Erin successfully prepared many high school students, who never considered attending college, to graduate and attend college. This was the message in the note that marks the end of the film. It also emphasizes that most of these students were the first in their families to graduate and attend college. When people seek solutions to their problems, they have clearer attention to issues and are likely to co-operate, leading to success.
Leaning reduces ignorance in individuals. It makes them to be more knowledgeable, understanding and wise. It helps people express themselves through logical and constructive ways. Learning has enabled me to express myself through writing and talking to supportive friends and members of my family. For example, I write poems to express my feelings about a particular matter. I usually give the poem to a friend or relative and ask them to unmask the hidden messages. This helps lay a foundation for an open discussion of events or issues. If people who have watched this film embrace learning as a long-term way of changing behavior, they will not only excel in it, but they will have confidence in addressing issues affecting them and society in general.
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