When someone thinks of freedom writers, they instantly think of the movie that was made in 2007. Most people dont even know that the movie was based on a true story. In the 1990’s, a new schoolteacher by the name of Erin Gruwell decided that her curriculum needed to be changed. Erin wanted to inspire low-achieving students. Instead of teaching the students about subjects that they don’t care about, she handed out journals and asked the students to write about their own lives and the struggles they have been through. Erin knew that all the students didn’t like her and she wanted to not only be a teacher, but to be a friend to her students. Making a connection to her students was hard, but she knew that something would be able to get to them, and that was to connect her work to the lives of the students. Stories and plays such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Anne Frank were presented within the classroom. The students could relate to these stories because just like in Romeo and Juliet, there were gangs. In Anne Frank, there was racism and death.
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After reading about The Freedom Writers, to words that stand out to me are racism, gang violence and struggles during school and at home. At the time, education was strict because that was the only way to succeed in life. A quote that was stated by one of the writers says, “I’ve lost many friends, friends who have died in an undeclared war.” By analyzing this quote, I feel as if this writer is talking about their experience with gang violence. Because of gang violence, most, if not all, of the writers have to have their guards up. They never know when a gun rampage might begin. Most of the writers were already in a gang because they had no choice. They didn’t know what was right from wrong and even their families were in gangs. If they didn’t have family, they would go into a gang and make a family. Being in a gang has affected teen’s way of learning while in school. Their focus is not on school work. Gangs also caused more racism during school. In most of the classrooms, the students were all separated into their racial groups. These groups affected the way the students felt because if they weren’t a certain type of race, then they weren’t allowed in. This made it hard for students to ask for help in classrooms because they were in a different group.
After reading through the diaries, anyone can understand why and how the writers have overcome their obstacles. To succeed in life, they had to be more open minded and not judge people without knowing them. It’s crazy to read the diaries and see how difficult it was to live in a life where you could only talk to people that were in your “group”, or judging people who I don’t even know just because they are different. When someone thinks they have an awful life now, it’d good to look back on how the lives of the writers were because it helps us realize that we actually do have a great life and we should be grateful for all of the opportunities we get to take. Being able to go to school, get an education and have friends of many racial groups is an honor.
One of the most interesting stories that involved the Freedom Writers was The Diary of Anne Frank. This story was introduced to the writers in the classroom to help them realize that there is someone out there who has it just as bad as they do. Anne Frank had to deal with the Holocaust which was when Germany killed pretty much all of the Jews. Anne Frank fortunately made it out alive because Miep Gies helped hide Anne Frank. Miep Gies actually got out alive as well and was able to write about her experience in the Concentration Camps. The writers were so interested in this book that they just had to meet Miep Gies. They actually raised money and worked together and in the end, they get to meet Miep Gies. Her story touched the hearts of the students and that moment changed their lives forever.
Statistics say that during this time, most if not all of the students did pass high school and even move on to college. They honestly didn’t think that they would be able to pass because no one believed in them, until Mrs. Gruwell came to teach their classes. I don’t blame the students either. Imagine being in a poor neighborhood where all around you are gangs and every night you can’t sleep because you hear gun shots. Your family never graduated from school or maybe you have no family to look up to. How in the world could anyone believe in themselves when no one around them cared enough to help them?
The Freedom Writers, in my opinion, is probably one of the greatest stories in human history. It not only tells people a little bit about the Holocaust and how it affected many people, but it also lets people know that there are people out there who are suffering and we don’t even realize it. I know for certain that most people don’t even go in a down town area because they know that there are trashy and poor people who live there. They don’t even get the chance to let those types of people explain their story and how they ended up there. Most teens don’t have the ability to get a good education like most upper classmen do. After reading about and even watching the movie about the Freedom Writers, it has shown me that people need to give other people a break and not judge anyone just by looking at them. Since the Freedom Writers actually happened, most of us are accepting people of other races and more people are getting educations. In our society, we can’t get anywhere without an education. From personal experience, The Freedom Writers is actually an inspiring story for young people like me. This story is being read in classrooms all around the world still today. The journals that were written by the students in the classroom, was actually made into a book and is inspiring people all around the world to do better for themselves and for others. After the story of the Freedom Writers leaked out, a foundation called The Freedom Writers Foundation was formed. It’s a non-profit organization that was created to inspire young, underprivileged students to pick up books instead of guns and knives.
One of my favorite quotes from The Freedom Writers was, “When you die, do you think it’s going to matter if you were a gangster? If you had swag? If you dressed a certain way? You’re dead and you’re going to rot. And when you rot, no one is going to remember you because all you left behind in this world was something no one cares about.” This quote was stated by Erin Gruwell and this quote should be said to every student that’s in school. A lot of people act or dress a certain way to become popular or to stand out, but that’s not going to get them anywhere in the world. No one cares how good you look in the real world; it’s how good you handle situations that are thrown at you. The Freedom Writers is one of the most known stories in American history.
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