The Curse of “Freedom Writers”
Posted by newbie-tchr at 3:27 pm in 1

I’ll put it out there – I’m not the biggest Hillary Swank fan, but even I thought Freedom Writers was a good movie. I think what made me like it more, is the fact that it’s a true story. (Look here for the true story and Freedom Writers Foundation) Anywho, during my student teaching I quickly came to realize that I wasn’t the only person who saw & liked it. My non-AP kids, ESPECIALLY 5th pd, had seen and loved it. Not only did they love it, but they wanted to know why school couldn’t be like that for them, and they wanted to know all….the…time.

It was a given, anytime they had to work on something that was the least bit uninteresting to them I’d get this question: “Man, Ms. Berry, why can’t school be like freedom writers?” Not because it meant they loved education, or anything so sweet as that – but they wanted school to just have the cool stuff. Why don’t we go to the Holocaust museum every day? Why don’t famous WWII heroes pop in on the regular? Why don’t I spend my non-existent cash flow on sparkling cider so we can make a toast to new beginnings? Well, children, because beyond the cool things that I want to do just as badly – sometimes you just have to do the basic stuff first.

Blame it on the system, blame it on the testing, blame it on the fact that no activity can possibly please all 120 students. Of course the real teacher from the movie incorporated the basics, but no movie’s going to waste time on the boring class lessons like “how to write an essay.” As a result, my students saw these movies and start to question what’s wrong with the education system that it can’t be just like what they saw in the movie.  I agree, more cool stuff would be awesome, and I’d love to do it every day, but unfortunately the reality is that they have to master the basics too. I just wish a big movie could mention that next time…

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