Freedom Writers essay

Published: 2018-04-03 04:23:57
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Freedom Writers summary essay

Freedom Writers stands out as one of the movies that has, for a long time, attracted the attention of commentators and scholars alike especially for the manner it highlights the struggles of adolescents and other people entering the young adulthood stage. The plot of the movie revolves Erin Gruwell, a teacher who finds herself handling students whose problems are as diverse as their backgrounds.  With many of her students on probation, she is determined to help them lead better lives amid all the challenges. Notably, some of the students are struggling with their identity and their situations are made even worse by the overlap of problems like stereotyping and developmental changes. Examining the challenges and themes in the movie reveals that applying the social developmental model would help the students cope as it would address their behavioral problems and other general issues in the learning environment. This paper discusses the challenges at the school and how the social developmental model can be applied to the same context.

The problems the students are facing can be understood by exploring the intersectionality of the axes of social-economic and ethnic/racial inequalities.For instance, Victoria and Eva have to deal with racial profiling and stereotyping from not only their teachers but also their peers. The gang-related violence affecting most of the students in the English class captures attention. Each student has at least a family member or friend who has been lost life due to this violence. Through the journals or diaries that Mrs. Gruwell required them to keep, the audience can gain insight into the nature of their lived experiences. For instance, the Hispanic girl called Eva had witnessed a man get killed by her friends. She, in the company of her friends, found Paco, the man at the store, attempting to kill a black man they knew was from their school. After taking a shot at the black man, Paco missed and instead shot one of the students. After witnessing the incident, she got back in the car and appeared traumatized, psychologically affected. Her friends could only tell her that it was important to be able to fight for themselves and protect their own. Later Paco was charged, and it was even more traumatizing for her to be involved in the case as a witness. While her friends wanted her to lie to protect the gang, her conscience pushed her, to tell the truth of what had happened. She struggled a lot with her identity during the process, for she was faced a dilemma whether to lie to please people or just tell the truth and risk dislike and contempt. She opted for the latter. Her story is just an example of the hard experiences each of the students in Freedom Writersexperiences.

What is the movie Freedom Writers about

From the onset, one gets the picture of a learning environment where racism and discrimination along racial-ethnic lines are rife. Students can only talk to and associate with those of their races. In fact, this is something they are used to as most of them have been brought up in neighborhoods where racism and gang violence are the order of the day. One student expresses hatred for white people who are always demanding for ‘respect like they deserve it for free.’ Everything around is all about one’s race/color. Eva says ‘I hate white people.’ This expression evidences the extent of hatred and racism as openly expressing that is as normal as practicing the phenomena under focus. Why does she hate white people? Her hatred has grown out of her perception of whites: she knows they hate and look down upon her race so in a way she is only hating back. Eva and many other students struggle through racism for the most of the movie and teacher Gruwell does everything she can to help them deal with this problem.

Racial segregation is a defining feature of the school. For instance, the English class (honors) is made up of white students, but one, a girl who no one thinks has the potential to excel. In the eyes of her classmates, she belongs to an inferior race and her abilities are therefore limited. The class teacher of this particular class, Mr. Guilford has a racist mentality, an inference that one makes from her assertion that before black and colored people came to the school it was only made of an ‘A-List.’ He detests integration and calls it a lie and ironically implies that pointing such things out might attract the ‘racist’ label. In as much as Victoria, the only black girl in the honors class has suffered racism and racial stereotyping; the teacher takes it a notch higher when, during a class session, he asks her to tell the class what the black person’s viewpoint. Indeed, this is offensive because there is no way a young girl can be harboring the opinion of an entire segment of the population. Her counter-hatred and anger make her shift classes (to go to Mrs. Gruwell’s class). Such and other examples evidence the extent of racism and identity issues that the students face. Through Mrs. Gruwell’shelp, they begin to view themselves as belonging to one family. Overall, the film depicts the environment at the schools at the time of the film’s production. Racism was rife and gang-related violence a common problem.

Freedom Writers diary movie questions

Against the background of the issues highlighted above, it would be interesting to apply the social developmental model to help the students deal with their behavioral problems. Imperative in this regard is a need to address gang-related violence that emerges as one of the most common problems in the movie. An obvious line of thought would be to find a way of preventing gang violence and any groupings aligned to committing vices in the society. Before exploring the model, there is a necessity to comprehend the notion of prevention and how it is different from other criminological concepts of sanctions and treatment. According to Tolan (1995), it does not seem utilitarian to, in the crime prevention narrative, focus on all activities oriented to the comprehension social ills. It would be optimal to limit prevention efforts to those actions meant to prevent the onset of such activities in specific individuals and in certain locations. Here, interest would be how to apply the model to help manage behavior and other developmental issues affecting students in the school setting.

As such, strategies rooted in the social development model would attempt to make predictions to the effect of preventing the onset of the implied activities by reducing contextual risk factors that lead to delinquency while increasing or magnifying the protective factors that are thought or believed to negate the identified risks. This viewpoint finds support in the presentations of developmental researchers, theorists, criminologists, and scholars in the disciplines of psychiatry, education, public health, and psychology(Tonry, & Farrington, 1995). Some of the most common predictive factors of offending include poor or failed child management, offending tendencies, separation from parents, low educational attainment, low intelligence, and antisocial behavior in children. (Laub et al., 1994; Hirschi, 1969, Loeber, &Dishion, 1983).

The Social Control Theory that also finds a place within the social developmental model has it that delinquency stems from weak social bonds. Here, missing or weak bonds in social institutions like the family and others like schools gain relevance.  Adding their voice to this conversation, Laub et al. (1994) assert that criminal offenders share an array of factors or characteristics such as sub-standard rearing practices, dysfunctional families, poor/low school performance, weak or no attachment to learning institutions, and associations/relations with peers engaging in delinquency. In the Freedom Writers scenario, these factors emerge when trying to explore and understand why exactly most of the students are involving themselves with gangs and gang-related violence. Efforts to uncover and comprehend these factors should factor in the possibility of intersectionality in the same respect. For instance, lack of attachment to the school or particular influential actors within the school have a big impact. A good example is a case of Victoria and the honors class teacher called Mr. Guilford. The teacher’s conduct and attitude have suppressed any bond that would have existed between students and the school administration. That is the reason she opts to go to join Mrs. Gruwell’s class where she feels comfortable. An effective strategy here would be to improve relations between students and teachers so that there can be that attachment, lack of which is a strong predictor of delinquency. Student-teacher relations directly determine student’s attachment to their schools. For instance, it is wrong for Mr. Guilford to create an impression that the school would be better off with only white students as they are the only ones he considers capable and intelligent. This mentality is racist and be eliminated from the school so that it is not a defining feature of the management. That way, attachment to the school would be enhanced hence reduce chances of delinquency.

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