the freedom writers diary-erin gruwell’s class

(Sigh). So not to gulp the haterade, but I got a funny feeling when I saw the movie, right? Reading the diaries did nothing to quell it. It just further compounded my dis-ease with the whole Dangerous Minds template of self-sacrificing teachers in the hood. Hillary Swank probably rendered Ms. G more sympathetically, or that’s just me not appreciating the tone of her entries-“my badness”. I would’ve also appreciated some further notes on pedagogy/methodology in choosing the entries for this collection. For an example of a teacher who manages to accomplish this without relying too heavily on being a tryhard with much too simplistic an analysis on stereotypes, check Rafe Esquith.

but don’t take my word for it, check her own diary entries:

“Even though I spent last year as a student teacher at Wilson High School, I’m still learning my way around the city. Long Beach is so different than the gated community I grew up in. Thanks to MTV dubbing Long Beach as the “gangsta-rap capital” with its depiction of a city, or L B C as the rappers refer to it. They think I should wear a bulletproof vest rather than pearls. Where I live in Newport Beach is a utopia compared to some of the neighborhoods seen in a Snoop Doggy Dogg video. Still, TV tends to blow things out of proportion.” (1)

“So, to whip them into shape, I’m gonna have to get down and dirty. I’ll have to burst their “Beverly Hills 90210” stereotype of me by getting in the trenches with them. Since I’m tackling Shakespeare soon, I need to convince them that this guy in tights who talks funny “has it going on”. I need to show them Shakespeare’s got a little “something something” for everyone. So what I’m going to do is make the Montagues and Capulets into a modern-day posse. They were true “OGs”, as the kids say, the original gangsters, and although the language, colors, and turf had changed dramatically over the last four hundred years, the theme is universal.” (32)


2 thoughts on “the freedom writers diary-erin gruwell’s class

  1. from the mouths of babes:

    from Diary 5:

    “With memories of my homies getting smoked and all my problems on the way home, I decided to get one. It’s so damn easy to get a gun; it’s like getting bubble gum from the corner liquor store. All you need is $25. All I had to do was ask my parents for money to buy school supplies. It was easy, ‘cause in the ‘hood, for the price of a backpack, you can get a gun, a couple of rounds, and probably even have some money left over. The next day, I met my friends in the bathroom and I bought a .22 caliber with a clip. I quickly stashed it into my backpack and left.” (12-13)

    from Diary 114:

    “For eighteen years, his off-and-on actions have made an impact in my life. My father always promises me things and never comes through, which has made it hard for Mom at times since she’s a single mother. During the holidays, he does bring me gifts, but when I really needed him to provide for me, he would act like he couldn’t help me. I only ask him to help me when I have no other choice.” (224)

    your kids know more than you think.
    so do your parents.

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